KENORA – Leaders Ledger – Just before Queen’s Park recessed for the summer Bill 8, popularly known as Ontario One Call, passed third and final reading and received Royal Assent a few days later. Included in the bill was an amendment I successfully put forward that ensures many of the jobs that will come as a result of this bill, will be located in Northern Ontario.
For those who are unaware, Bill 8, sets to rectify years of confusion and inconsistency by establishing a single point of contact for all underground utility location services. This replaces the current system where contractors, builders and homeowners in many areas of the province were forced to make dozens of phone calls to determine the location of underground wires and lines on a property.
The lack of a single system had been cited as a reason for industrial accidents across the province, including some fatal incidents that simply do not happen in other jurisdictions. In fact, all 50 U.S. States have mandatory one-call systems and, as a result, much lower rates of digging-related incidents.
For this reason, Bill 8, was jointly sponsored by Paul Miller, NDP, and Bob Bailey, PC, and received overwhelming support from industry, safety advocates, and municipalities, who agreed that the haphazard system that was in place, which included voluntary participation, posed an unreasonable risk to the safety of people living in this province. While it does impact a handful of small operators that offered a for-profit service, both Mr. Miller and Bailey did their best to minimize the impact of the bill on these operators.
In its original form, Bill 8 would have created a single call centre to service all of Ontario, however, after learning about the bill and its impacts I felt it was important to ensure that those living in the north were serviced by individuals who had an understanding of the unique geography and layout of our region, leading me to put forward the following amendment that “The Corporation shall operate, as part of its call system, at least one call centre located in Northern Ontario,” and I am pleased that both Mr. Miller and Bailey agreed with the amendment and supported its inclusion in the final draft of the bill.
Not only does this ensure the public is safer as a result of this bill, but the amendment ensures that the North will see some of the economic benefits as a result of its passage and it allows the private companies already providing a similar service to put in a bid and continue to operate on a larger scale.
Sarah Campbell MPP