Keeping the EBR in Sync with New Laws and Government Changes

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A major challenge facing the ECO and the Ontario government is keeping the EBR “in sync” with the evolving nature of government, including the frequent enactment of new laws, the occasional reorganization of government portfolios, and the creation of new ministries.

The ECO constantly tracks developments at the prescribed ministries and within the Ontario government as a whole, and encourages ministries to update the EBR regulations (O. Reg. 73/94 and O. Reg. 681/94) to prescribe new ministries, laws and instruments that are environmentally significant. While the ECO strives to ensure that the EBR remains up to date so that Ontario residents can continue to participate in all environmentally significant decision making, there continue to be serious delays in prescribing several ministries, laws and instruments under the EBR, as summarized below.

The ECO is concerned about such delays – they deprive the public of their rights to participate in environmentally significant decisions, to ensure that Statements of Environmental Values (SEVs) are considered, to request EBR investigations and reviews, and to seek leave to appeal prescribed instruments. Moreover, the ECO is unable to scrutinize non-prescribed decisions in the same manner as decisions made by prescribed ministries under prescribed acts, regulations and instruments.

In the 2010/2011 reporting period, the ECO observed some progress in expanding EBR coverage. In May 2010, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) filed important changes to O. Reg. 73/94, prescribing: the Lake Simcoe Protection Act, 2008; the Toxics Reduction Act, 2009; and the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001. MOE also made changes to O. Reg. 681/94, including prescribing certain instruments issued under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 and the Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002. Further, in March 2011, MOE posted a proposal on the Environmental Registry (#011-2697) to prescribe the Ministry of Education for the purposes of the SEV and public consultation provisions under Part II of the EBR, and to prescribe most of the Water Opportunities Act, 2010, for the purposes of posting regulations.

The ECO commends the ministries on these developments. However, there are still a number of ministries, acts and instruments that remain unaddressed.

Gaps in EBR coverage (as of June 1, 2011)

Ministries and Agencies that Should be Prescribed under the EBR

  • The Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs
  • The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services
  • The Ministry of Education (proposal to prescribe posted on Registry in March 2011)
  • The Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport
  • The Ministry of Infrastructure
  • The Ministry of Research and Innovation
  • The Ontario Heritage Trust

Laws that Should be Prescribed under the EBR

  • Animal Health Act, 2009 (Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs [OMAFRA])
  • Building Code Act, 1992 (in full; already partially prescribed for provisions related to sewage systems) (Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing [MMAH])
  • Far North Act, 2010 (Ministry of Natural Resources [MNR])
  • Water Opportunities Act, 2010 (proposal to prescribe posted on Registry in March 2011) (MOE)

Instruments that Should be Prescribed under the EBR

  • Instruments issued under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 (OMAFRA)
  • Water management plans issued under the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act (MNR)
  • Nutrient management strategies and nutrient management plans issued under the Nutrient Management Act, 2002 (OMAFRA)
  • Instruments issued under the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006 (MNR)
  • Instruments issued under the Public Lands Act (MNR)

For more details, please refer to Section 8 of the Supplement to this Annual Report. For ministry comments, please see Appendix C.

Previous section: Part 8 – The Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 in Practice
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This is an article from the 2010/11 Annual Report to the Legislature from the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario.

Citing This Article:
Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. 2011. "Keeping the EBR in Sync with New Laws and Government Changes." Engaging Solutions, ECO Annual Report, 2010/11. Toronto: The Queen's Printer for Ontario. 132-133.