MPP Michael Harris’s transparency bill passes second reading

September 13, 2012

QUEEN’S PARK – Today, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris achieved a major success in improving government accountability with the passage of his private member’s bill: Bill 109: Transparency in Government Bills Act.

Bill 109 passed second reading this afternoon with the support of NDP MPPs, and was referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs for further examination.

“I’m glad the NDP joined with me and my PC colleagues today to vote in favour of increasing government transparency. For far too long, Ontarians have experienced an accountability deficit with the Liberals,” Harris said.

“They’ve seen government bills, like the Green Energy Act, rushed through the House with no cost-benefit analysis whatsoever. And when the Management Board of Cabinet actually does conduct a financial assessment of proposed government legislation, Ontarians never know about or see any of that information.”

Instead of voting in favour of greater access to information on government decision-making, the Liberals attacked the transparency reforms in Bill 109.

Liberal MPP Shafiq Qaadri resorted to red-herring arguments, unfounded allegations and personal attacks in his remarks on Bill 109 in the Legislature this afternoon, rather than providing thoughtful comments on how transparency can be increased in the Ontario government.

Bill 109 calls for the government to table a comprehensive report with each government bill that includes:

  • A detailed summary of the financial costs the bill will have on government, municipalities, individuals and businesses,
  • An assessment of potential legislative overlap with different levels of government,
  • A review of how the bill will affect Ontario’s competitiveness,
  • And, if applicable, a science-based assessment justifying the bill’s measures.

The report would then be posted on the Legislative Assembly’s website, so that all Ontarians, not just insiders, have an opportunity to learn about government bills.

“This is an issue of trust, fairness and government responsibility. Ontarians analyze the costs and benefits of every important decision they make, whether they’re buying a home or starting a business. But they’re limited in their ability to assess how new laws will affect their lives because the government provides little to no information on proposed legislation,” Harris said. “My bill would help correct this problem by requiring the government to provide accessible information online, explaining the financial, economic, social and environmental implications of government bills.”


“Businesses in Waterloo Region and Ontario support improved transparency across all levels of government. The provisions of this proposed legislation that mandate an assessment of potential costs and impacts on businesses, municipalities, and other affected sectors will significantly enhance provincial accountability.”

– Art Sinclair, vice president, Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce

“Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters has long advocated for governments to conduct transparent economic-impact assessments of new legislation and regulations. We support any effort that seeks to increase transparency in government legislation and assess the potential costs it will have on industry.”

– Canadian Manufactures and Exporters

“On behalf of the Cement Association of Canada, I’d like to add my support to this Bill. We are supportive of any initiative that seeks to enhance fiscal transparency for industry.”

– Michael McSweeney, president, Cement Association of Canada

“The New Hamburg Board of Trade supports Mr. Harris’s private member’s bill: Transparency in Government Bills, 2012. We encourage and appreciate any steps members of the provincial Legislature take to ensure greater transparency and accountability in government.”

 – Tim Bender, president of the New Hamburg Board of Trade