NEW - ON: Minister of Government and Consumer Services consults on pandemic recovery with propane representatives
To prepare for economic re-opening in Ontario, the Minister of Government and Consumer Services, the Honourable Lisa Thompson, struck Ministerial Advisory Councils (MAC) to solicit industry advice on how best to proceed.
Former CPA Board Chair, Dan Kelly, is a Council member and was asked to gather sectoral input into changes that could help the propane industry in the immediate, medium and longer terms to operate safely and efficiently during economic re-integration.
On June 3, 2020, seven CPA Ontario member propane sector representatives and CPA President & CEO Nathalie St-Pierre and senior staff met virtually with Minister Thompson and Parliamentary Assistant, Bob Baily to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on industry and to consider ideas that would assist the province and businesses in economic recovery.
Industry participants included: Greg McCamus and Jim Carlsson, Superior Propane; Donaven Welk, Parkland Fuel Corporation; Dave Karn and Dan Kelly, Dowler-Karn; Dan Granger, EDPRO/Sleegers; Greg Thibodeau, Pembina Pipeline (Ontario Committee Chair); and Daryl Patjas, Maxquip (Ontario Committee Vice-Chair).
Members addressed three key areas of concern and offered practical remedies for each: immediate pandemic recovery relief; economic stimulus ideas; and ongoing provincial and federal regulatory industry impediments.
In the immediate term, representatives advocated for a regional approach to economic re-opening, given the significant disparity in rural versus urban COVID-19 spread.
Given the industry’s commitment and impressive record in prioritizing safety, the participants stressed to the minister the importance of the Technical Standards and Safety Association (TSSA) allowing industry to manage the backlogs that have accrued as a result of the suspension of all but essential services during COVID-19.
The economic and environmental benefits of auto propane were also explained to the minister. Government support for auto propane could help propel the province’s economic recovery, for example, by utilizing existing excess manufacturing capacity in Windsor and London to produce road ready auto propane fleet vehicles. It was also recommended that the propane fuel tax of 4.3 cents/litre be finally eliminated, thereby leveling the playing field with other automotive fuels.
Representatives also outlined a number of regulatory burdens that overlap between the province and the federal government. Better coordination between the senior levels of government could result in the overlaps being eliminated or reduced. All without compromising safety.
Examples cited include RSMP Level 1 applications, similar information requirements of Environment Canada’s E2 evacuation plans and the TSSA’s Level 2 RSMP forms, and provincial and federal government overlap for propane delivery trucks and transportation (Transport Canada’s requirements are considered the most thorough, rendering the TSSA’s role and fees unnecessary).
Members also noted that a shortage of skilled trades people in the propane and other fuels industries presents a significant hindrance to growth. Government investments in trades training such as gas fitters and licensed service technicians could help ease unemployment, benefitting communities and businesses.
Minister Thompson committed to following up on the areas addressed, acknowledged the important role propane plays in Ontario’s agricultural communities, and promised to connect propane businesses with Personal Protective Equipment through a new government website.
The CPA will follow up with the minister and her staff to ensure that the issues raised in the meeting are addressed and will continue to work with her office and other provincial departments to further advance Ontario’s propane industry.