On Tuesday, July 7th, Ontario’s government introduced Bill 195, the Reopening Ontario Act (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act 2020.
This Bill would effectively allow the provincial government to continue its extraordinary powers – currently being exercised under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) – except without the need for an ongoing public health emergency and without the oversight and accountability mechanisms that are crucial when power is concentrated in the executive branch (the Premier and Cabinet).
Right now, the government has to return to the Legislative Assembly every 28 days if it wants to extend the state of emergency. Bill 195 eliminates this requirement – leaving no meaningful democratic check on the government’s power.
In essence, Bill 195 would give the Premier and Ministers the power to impose emergency orders that drastically curtail basic rights and freedoms without the need to engage in the legislative process or involve members of the Legislative Assembly.
This ability – to exercise emergency powers without the label of an “emergency” or the checks and balances that come with it – would last for at least a year and can be extended by the Legislative Assembly for a year at a time. Indefinitely. The powers governments have under emergency legislation are supposed to be exceptional – Bill 195 would make the exercise of those powers the “new normal”.
CCLA has significant concerns about the Reopening Ontario Act – it has an illegitimate purpose and is seriously flawed. There is no need for this Bill – Ontario’s existing emergency legislation gives the government all the tools it needs to respond to the pandemic. The government is simply trying to keep the power while cutting democratic oversight.
Bill 195 is undemocratic, unnecessary, and seriously flawed. Add your name to help us stop it.
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