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Ontario's 'red tape' reduction bill: What's in it for grocers

Ford government wants to reduce regulatory requirements for organizations across sectors, and two proposals will impact grocers
Jason Salmon/Shutterstock

Doug Ford’s PC government has introduced a bill that proposes more than 80 changes aimed at cutting red tape for business. The Better for People, Smarter for Business Act was created to “eliminate unnecessary or outdated rules and streamline regulations that need updating” in Ontario.

One proposal is to clarify menu labelling and calorie count requirements for food counters or ready-to-eat sections in grocery stores. The change will clarify when the posting of calorie counts is and is not required for certain food items.

In some cases, grocery store items are being captured under the menu labelling requirements under the Healthy Menu Choices Act. “This has led to ambiguity regarding whether or not unprepared fruit and vegetables that are normally sold by weight or unit in a grocery store, like a banana, require calories to be posted on a menu, label or a tag,” according to the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.

“Produce was never actually exempt under the previous regulation, and inspectors were starting to ask for calorie counts on items like apples or immediately consumable fruit,” says Sebastian Prins, director of government relations (Ontario) at the Retail Council of Canada. “Our grocers pushed back pretty strongly to say produce by weight or by piece should be out of scope.”

RCC’s view is that with the changes, provincial and federal rules on food labelling will be harmonized. “The federal and provincial rules don’t speak nicely to one another,” he says. “But the new set of rules will help relax or alleviate a lot of those issues, or so we hope.”

RCC estimates the changes will save grocers in Ontario $25.6 million in unnecessary operational costs, including compliance, labelling and signage.

Another change allows long-combination vehicles (LCV) to travel during peak travel times in the Greater Toronto Area and permits more LCVs on Ontario’s highways. A typical LCV is up to 40 metres long, consisting of a tractor pulling two full-length semitrailers, according to The Ministry of Transportation.

The change will allow for a more efficient way of moving goods across the province, according to the provincial government.

Prins says the major win here for grocers is long-combination vehicles use 30% less gas than single tractor-trailers. In addition, LCVs are safer vehicles, according to The Canada Safety Council, which reports that LCVs are involved in at least 40% fewer collisions than regular tractor-trailers.








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