COCA Newsletter

  • Martin Benson posted an article
    Poll Shows Ontario Liberal Support Increasing see more

    An online poll of 1,628 Canadians aged 18 years or older conducted between October 26 and October 28 by Innovation Research Group conducted on behalf of the Ontario Energy

    Association revealed the following:

    • Support for the PC Party is now “in the low end of their range.”
    • Is an election was held on the day the poll was taken, 31 per cent of decided and leaning respondents picked the Tories, 28 per cent chose the Liberals and 22 per cent would vote NDP
    • Among decided respondents the gap narrowed to 35% for the PCs and 32% for the Liberals
    • 37% of respondents felt ambivalent or alienated
    • Only 22% of respondents felt Ontario electricity consumers are well protected on price

    The complete results are available in full graphic form by clicking on the following link:  

  • Martin Benson posted an article
    Ford Shuffles Cabinet see more

    On the evening of Friday, November 3rd, a spokesperson for the Premier announced that the Minister of Economic Development Job Creation and Trade and the MPP for Simcoe-Grey, Jim Wilson, had resigned from Cabinet and also from the PC Caucus to seek treatment for addictions.  Then, on Monday, November 5th, various media outlets reported that allegations of sexual misconduct had been made by a male Queen’s Park staffer against Wilson.   

    Also, over the last few weeks, the Opposition has been raising questions about the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Michael Tibolo and in particular about the numerous lawsuits arising during his long career as a lawyer, prior to his election on June 7th as the MPP  for Vaughan-Woodbridge and also about allegations of past questionable management practices.

    These factors caused Premier Ford to visit the Lieutenant Governor on the morning of Monday, November 5th to make the following Cabinet changes:

    • Jim Wilson, (MPP Simcoe-Grey) formerly Minister of Economic Development Job Creation and Trade - RESIGNED from Cabinet and from the PC Caucus and currently sits as an Independent
    • Todd Smith (MPP Bay of Quinte), formerly Government House Leader and Minister of Government and Consumer Services - Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade and continues as Government House Leader
    • Bill Walker (MPP Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound), formerly Chief Government Whip - Minister of Government and Consumer Services
    • John Yakabuski (MPP Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke), formerly Minister of Transportation - Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry
    • Jeff Yurek (MPP Elgin-Middlesex-London) formerly Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry  - Minister of Transportation
    • Silvia Jones (MPP Dufferin-Caledon) formerly Minister of Tourism Culture and Sport - Minister of Community Safety and Corrections
    • Michael Tibolo, (MPP Vaughan-Woodbridge), formerly Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services - Minister of Tourism Culture and Sport 
    • Lorne Coe (MPP Whitby) - Government Caucus Whip
    • Doug Downey (MPP Barrier-Springwater-Oro-Medonte) - Deputy Government Caucus Whip

  • Martin Benson posted an article
    Fall Economic Statement see more

    On the afternoon of Thursday, November 15th, Finance Minister Vic Fidelli rose in the Legislature to present the government’s Fall Economic Statement.  Features of this financial and legislative roadmap that will be of interest to contractors are as follows:

    • GDP is expected to grow by 2% in 2018, 1.8% in 2019, 1.7% in 2010 and 1.5% in 2021
    • To maintain business tax competitiveness for with the US, the provincial government will introduce accelerated depreciation measures, will maintain the lower small business corporate income tax rate and will increase the Employer Health Tax exemption threshold from $450,000 in payroll to $490,000
    • The provincial deficit was pegged at $14.5B, down $500M from the time when the Tories assumed office little more than five months ago; this is the result of $3.2B in savings already implemented and $2.7B in new spending or foregone revenue (tax spending)
    • The Fall Economic Statement did not prescribe the journey to budget balance (look for that in the March 2019 budget)
    • The government will introduce the Low-Income Individuals and Families Tax (LIFT) Credit, effective January 1, 2019, which will exempt low-income earners from paying provincial income tax; this measure is estimated to benefit 1.1 million people and cost the government $495 million in foregone revenue
    • The government will conduct a review of the workers compensation system to ensure it remains sustainable in the future
    • There will be a review of Metrolinx and possible amendments to the Metrolinx Act
    • Work will resume on the GTA West highway corridor
    • An Open for Business Action Plan will be initiated to reduce the burden of red tape and unnecessary regulation by 25% by 2022
    • The government will conduct a review of power prices for industrial power consumers with public input
    • The government will introduce an environmental plan to fight climate change
    • The government will launch a Housing Supply Action Plan to address housing affordability and grow supply
    • New rental units built after the date of the Fall Economic Statement will be exempted from rent control

    The full document is available at the following link


  • Martin Benson posted an article
    Cannabis in the Workplace and Reporting Near Misses see more

    Readers of this newsletter will be aware that the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA) is a tremendous source of relevant and helpful accident and sickness prevention programs and health and safety management services specifically designed for the construction industry.  The recent edition of the IHSA’s magazine, Magazine, which is available on their website, contained two articles that I’d like to draw to your attention.  One is titled “Are you ready for CANNABIS in the workplace?” and the other “Never miss Reporting a near miss”.  Here are the links:

    Are You Ready For Cannabis in The Workplace?

    Never Miss Reporting a Near Miss


  • Martin Benson posted an article
    Line-by-Line Audit Recommends Transformation in Expenditure Management see more

    Ernst & Young LLP (EY) was engaged by the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) of the Government of Ontario to conduct a line-by-line audit of Ontario Government expenditures and expenditure growth across all ministries over a fifteen year period from fiscal year 2002/03 to fiscal year 2017/18. EY recently completed the review and submitted its report to TBS.  The title of this report “Managing Transformation: A Modernization Action Plan for Ontario” suggests the general direction of their findings.  The Government’s objective is to achieve a 4% efficiency improvement.   

    Among the reports summary findings are the following:

    • Per capita spending has increased by  32% over the period
    • Increases in expenditures have outpaced population growth
    • Total provincial debt increased by 87%
    • Interest on the debt is Ontario’s 4thlargest expenditure, higher than the total operating expenditure of the total Ontario Public Service (OPS)
    • There was no real change (increase/decrease) in the OPS operating expenditures over the period
    • Real growth in Transfer Payments including to the Broader Public Sector (BPS) over the period accounts for 99.8% of the real growth in total operating expenditures
    • 90% of total operating expenditures are spent through Transfer Payment agreements
    • Significant efficiencies can be implemented that will not compromise outcomes and can in fact improve results
    • The Province must develop a better framework for public expenditure management 
    • Strong leadership will be required at the centre to strengthen coordination across the Government and its BPS partners
    • There must be a renewed focus on efficiencies across government ministries and the BPS 
    • A Modernization Action Plan should be developed to define how this will all work

    For the full report, click on

  • Martin Benson posted an article
    Torys still Lead, NDP declines, Liberals Up in Latest Abacus Poll see more

    Here are some interesting findings from a public opinion poll conducted by Abacus Data and published on October 9th:

    • “36% of committed voters would vote PC (down 5 since the election), 29% would vote NDP (down 5) while Liberal support is up 5 to 24%.”
    • “PC support is fairly consistent across the province ranging from a high of 39% in the GTA (postal codes starting with L) to a low of 32% in Metro Toronto. The NDP is stronger in Metro Toronto and Northern Ontario, and trail both the PCs and Liberals in the region surrounding Toronto. The Liberals continue to struggle outside of the GTA and Metro Toronto.”
    • “About half of Ontarians still have a negative impression of the Premier, largely unchanged since the week before E-day.”
    • “Andrea Horwath, much as she was throughout the election campaign, is viewed more positively than negatively and has the best ratings of all provincial party leaders. Despite this, her positives are down 9 points to 35% since her peak at the end of May.”

    ·      “Most Ontarians (76%) say Doug Ford is governing about as they expected him to. This feeling holds true regardless of vote choice in the last election.”

    • 36% of New Democrat voters say they would keep the current PC government instead of reverting back to the Liberals confirming that intense desire for change that swept the Wynne government from power.

    Here’s a link to the poll:

  • Martin Benson posted an article
    Ministries in Holding Pattern as Government Attends to Urgent Business see more

    It appears that most ministries of the Ontario government have been in a “holding pattern” as our new Government attended to its most urgent business.  The first session of the 42nd Parliament began little more than a month after the June 7th general election and our new government’s most urgent business included:

    • Causing the resignation of all Hydro One directors and the retirement of the CEO
    • Ending the labour dispute at York University
    • Terminating the White Pines Wind Project
    • Limiting and making public the compensation of directors, the CEO and executives at Hydro One
    • Cancelling more than 300 renewable energy projects
    • Initiating Ontario’s withdrawal from the North American emissions trading system
    • Aligning the City of Toronto’s electoral districts with the provincial electoral districts and thereby reducing the size of the City of Toronto’s Council  from 47 to 25 councillors
    • Reverting to the appointment of the chairs of Regions of Niagara, Peel and York and the District of Muskoka by their Councils rather than by Region/District-wide election by the voters

    The ruling by the Superior Court of Justice that Bill 5, which dealt with the last two bullet points above, contravened the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, caused our government to introduced a new Bill, Bill 31, which mirrored Bill 5 but invoked the rarely used “notwithstanding” clause in the Charter of Rights and Freedom that allows Canadian governments to override the Charter.

    Almost every constitutional expert and a number of former politicians who are very familiar with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms including former Prime Ministers Brian Mulroney and Jean Chretien, former Ontario Premiers Davis, Peterson and Rae, former Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow and former Ontario Attorney General Roy McMurtry have been critical of our newly elected Premier, Doug Ford, for misusing the “notwithstanding” tool, which was intended for only the most extreme circumstances, for an issue of such minor importance that was not even mentioned during his recent  election campaign.

    The Charter of Rights and Freedoms was developed by Canadian politicians and it forms part of the Constitution Act 1982.  Its purpose is to make sure that all statutes passed into law by governments in Canada conform to the rights and freedoms identified in the Charter.  These include:

    • Freedom of religion
    • Freedom of the press
    • Freedom of peaceful assembly
    • Freedom of association
    • Democratic freedoms such as the right of every citizen to vote
    • Freedom of mobility
    • Legal rights such as the right to life, liberty and security
    • The equality of everyone under the law

    However, Section 33 of the Charter gives Canadian governments the authority to override the rights and freedoms identified in the Charter.  This is the “notwithstanding” clause and as already stated, its use was intended by the framers only for the most extreme circumstances. 

    Our new Ontario government has taken unusual steps to push Bill 31 through the legislative process as quickly as possible including invoking the notwithstanding clause, calling a special 40-minute meeting of the Legislature on Saturday, September 15th and then another for second reading debate that started at 12:01 am on Monday, September 17th.   

    The ministries are also in a holding pattern as the government waits for the results of the line-by-line audit being conducted by E Y Canada and the report from the Independent Financial Commission.  The line-by-line is supposed to be completed not later than September 21st and the Financial Commission was to have submitted its final report on August 30th

    Once all of the intelligence from these two initiatives is received and analysed, the government will be in a position to establish priorities, develop financial and legislative plans and move forward in a planned and orderly fashion. 

  • Martin Benson posted an article
    Minister Calls EQAO Test Results Unacceptable see more

    Here’s what the Education Quality Accountability Office said when they released the results of their latest round of testing on August 29th,


    In elementary schools, the percentage of Grade 3 and Grade 6 students meeting the provincial math standard has decreased over the last five years.

    • Of the 132 656 enrolled Grade 3 students assessed in 2018, 61% met the provincial math standard (a decrease from 67% in 2014).
    • Of the 132 766 enrolled Grade 6 students assessed in 2018, 49% met the provincial math standard (a decrease from 54% in 2014).
    • Results from EQAO’s Student Questionnaire suggest that while only 56% of Grade 3 students and 52% of Grade 6 students believe they are good at math, 78% are motivated to do their best when they do math activities in class. High motivation levels signal a positive mindset that can facilitate future achievement.

    In secondary schools, the percentage of Grade 9 students enrolled in the academic course who met the provincial standard in math has remained high, while fewer than half of the students enrolled in the applied course met the provincial standard.

    • Of the 96 996 students enrolled in the Grade 9 academic course in 2018, 84% met the provincial math standard (a figure that has remained relatively stable since 2014).
    • Yet of the 33 451 students enrolled in the Grade 9 applied course in 2018, only 45% met the provincial math standard (a decrease from 47% in 2014).”

    Minister of Education, Lisa Thompson, has stated that these results are unacceptable and our new government has vowed to abandon “Discovery Math”, a teaching concept advanced by the former government that encourages students to engage in problem-solving with real-world applications in favour of old-fashioned times tables memorization and rote learning.  Some experts advise that a balance of both approaches is the best solution.  About $55 million in the education budget has been reallocated to support lead math educators and new math training for teachers.

  • Martin Benson posted an article
    Consumers to See Reduced Natural Gas Price see more

    Beginning October 1st consumers can expect to see a reduction of approximately 3.3 cents per cubic metre on the price of natural gas.  Our new government has ordered the Ontario Energy Board to remove cap-and-trade related costs from natural gas rates.  Gas utilities have been ordered to pass these savings on to consumers so the government anticipates savings of around $80 per year for the average household and $285 for small businesses.