Economic development was high on Nina Tangri’s agenda during 42nd Parliament, the environment not so much
Before Nina Tangri was elected to represent the riding of Mississauga—Streetsville she helped run her small family-owned insurance and financial services business. The former entrepreneur clearly has the spirit running through her blood.
Throughout her four year term as MPP she focused on the small business sector and held the role of associate minister of small business and red tape reduction, a portfolio created by the Doug Ford PCs to streamline municipal and provincial processes believed to slow down the pace of economic development in Ontario.
Her focus as a politician was clear even before taking on her most recent ministerial role: she was a member of the standing committee on government agencies, the standing committee on public accounts, a parliamentary assistant to the minister of economic development, job creation and trade , and chair of the standing committee on social policy.
In her time during office she successfully passed two pieces of legislation in support of businesses across Ontario.
The first was Bill 13, the Supporting People and Businesses Act (2021) which made multiple revisions to many Acts dealing with the commercial sector: making it easier for cannabis store operators to use online and delivery methods; for establishments to extend sales of alcohol; for mining companies to work without certain restrictions from previous regulations; for infrastructure projects to move forward with less stringent environmental assessment requirements; and the Act repeals certain financial charges under the Toronto Atmospheric fund. Tangri pushed the legislation as a way to remove barriers for small businesses during the pandemic, but many critics saw its dramatic erosion of environmental protections, which favor businesses that no longer have to adhere to previous regulations or financial costs meant to curb certain activities, as a blow to the climate change fight.
Tangri’s record, particularly as the parliamentarian behind the bill, was one that put business ahead of the environment.
“As we confront COVID-19 for the second year in a row, people and businesses continue to contend with untold challenges. That’s why, as we move forward, our government is committed to doing whatever it takes to protect the health and safety of Ontarians while supporting the economy on which they depend,” she said in the legislature on October 2021.
This Bill focuses on the government stepping aside to allow commerce to unfold without as much bureaucratic and regulatory interference and goes hand-in-hand with previous PC legislation during the pandemic such as the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act (2020), the Main Street Recovery Act (2020) and the Supporting Recovery and Competitiveness Act (2021).
Bill 13 made changes to some Acts, like allowing government infrastructure projects to get built faster by modernizing and streamlining environmental assessments, reducing the level of regulation.
“Finally, to help people and businesses in the construction sector, this act makes it easier and faster to update the building code,” Tangri said. “Streamlining the building code development process, supporting harmonization with national construction codes and allowing Ontario to respond faster to the needs of the construction sector is helping keep more people working and communities running across our province.”
The most recent legislation Tangri pushed was Bill 84, the Fewer Fees, Better Services Act (2022). Members of the public would recognize this as the Bill that took away the tolls on Highway 412 and 418 in Durham Region and refunded license plate sticker costs to all Ontarians. Tangri said these sorts of measures put money back into the pockets of residents and reduce financial barriers.
It also formalized a single window for business services allowing companies to track the information they need from government, meant to help level the playing field in the procurement process, while enhancing the supply chain and giving more flexibility to provincial assets by creating the Center of Realty Excellence.
Prior to being appointed as the associate minister of small business and red tape reduction, Tangri focused her energy on a variety of files, frequently stepping up to speak inside Queen’s Park. She stuck to party lines, supporting her fellow PC MPPs legislation and their efforts to support businesses, often while weakening environmental regulations, conservation authorities and the broader oversight structure that previously acted as a guardrail for ministries.
Her focus on companies and the economy, while seldom mentioning her riding, still impacted Mississauga—Streetsville. It is home to a variety of small businesses and a historical ‘downtown’ that offers significant economic benefits through local tourism. When the pandemic hit, many businesses struggled to keep their doors open and with many being concentrated in her riding Tangri advocated often for any legislation to lessen the burden on her business community.
Even prior to COVID-19, Tangri pushed economic development.
“Ontario’s life sciences sector plays a significant role in our economy, contributing more than $50 billion to our GDP [Gross Domestic Product] and $2 billion in provincial tax,” Tangri said March 2019. “In my riding of Mississauga—Streetsville, also known as ‘Pill Hill,’ over 400 companies provide more than 15,000 well-paying jobs to the people of the GTA.” Pill Hill is a reference to all the pharmaceutical companies and related businesses located in the area.
That same month she brought up what the province was doing to create jobs and how important it is to the public that Ontario become the “economic engine of Canada once again.”
In April 2019 she applauded her government for investing in education. Tangri did not mention the turbulent time the Peel District School Board was going through (and continues to go through) as anti-Black racism and systemic problems with discrimination were finally confronted. Instead she focused her time speaking in the legislature on budget investments that year.
Tangri also supported Bill 107, the Getting Ontario Moving Act (2019) which made various amendments giving the province more authority on public transportation projects, to push its strategy of linking commuter needs with economic development.
Nina Tangri has run as an MPP candidate every year since the riding was created in 2007, losing to the Liberals’ Bob Delaney every year except 2018.
“Contrary to the rhetoric coming from the other side of the House, our government is 100% committed to the safety of our road users, our road workers and our emergency personnel,” Tangri said April 2019. “Our government has made investment after investment into community safety.”
In July 2020, Tangri made a bold statement about COVID-19 and the effects of the early lockdowns on the public and economy.
During a period when there were no vaccines and people were being told to stay separated, Tangri voiced her opinion on why the government should pass Bill 175, the Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act (2020).
She said the Bill would improve patient experience, enable a flexible delivery model, help personal support workers and empower health care professionals. It would allow Ontario Health to fund home and community care services, stripping power from various health organizations like the Local Health Integrated Networks (LHINs) and non-profit groups.
Nursing organizations and unions opposed the Bill, raising concern it would remove resources and open the door to less regulation under a more centralized system, saying the government pushed it through during the pandemic without enough public notice or consultation.
Tangri said in July 2020 her office was in good communication with the LHINs and saw the legislation as a way to fix the current system and its waitlists.
In November 2020 she returned to her economic development focus, speaking in favor of Bill 236, the Supporting Local Restaurants Act (2020), allowing further funding assistance for small businesses and reducing food delivery fees from service providers.
“If we don’t change course, the future of these businesses is bleak, particularly for non-chain operations without a parent corporation’s resources to rely on,” Tangri said. “Restaurants Canada estimates that up to 40% of independent restaurants may not last beyond next March. Restaurant owners, employees and associations have told us they need more support to survive.”
While she didn’t specifically mention her riding, Tangri was aware that Mississauga—Streetsville’s local economy is driven by its rich restaurant, cafe and pub culture.
Outside of the economy and business, Tangri made a statement on International Women’s Day each year. She supported border closures during the pandemic and followed the party line when enacting various regulations that were meant to keep communities safe throughout the global public health crisis.
She has also supported the PC plan to construct the 413 Highway, known as the GTA West Highway, despite polls that show the vast majority of residents in the GTA and across Ontario do not support the project being pushed by Tangri and the rest of her PC colleagues.
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