The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) is one of 17 Ontario ministries that is required under the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 (EBR) to include the public in its environmentally significant decision making. Click on a heading below to learn about the OMAFRA and its EBR requirements and performance.
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has a mandate to ensure the sustainability of agriculture in Ontario, including its impacts on the environment. The OMAFRA deals with a broad range of environmentally significant issues, including land use planning, nutrient management, water quality in the Great Lakes, air and noise issues related to agriculture, farm animal diseases, human-wildlife conflicts, and pollinator protection. The ministry has an identified role under Ontario’s Biodiversity Plan, as well as an important role in addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Statement of Environmental Values
Each ministry that is prescribed under the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) is required to develop a Statement of Environmental Values to guide ministry staff when making decisions that might significantly affect the environment. Read the Statement of Environmental Values of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).
Public Notice and Consultation
Each ministry that is prescribed under the EBR is required to consult the public on certain environmentally significant proposals via the Environmental Registry. Specifically, the OMAFRA must give notice of, and consult on, any proposal to make or amend a policy or act that could have a significant effect on the environment.
In addition, the OMAFRA is required to provide notice and consult with the public on any proposed regulation, or amendment to a regulation, made under the Nutrient Management Act, 2002, or any regulation made under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 that relates to the disposal of deadstock, if the proposal may have a significant effect on the environment.
Applications for Review
Under the EBR, members of the public can ask the OMAFRA to review the need for a new environmental policy, act or regulation. In addition, the public may ask the OMAFRA to review the Nutrient Management Act, 2002, a regulation made under this Act, or any of the ministry’s existing policies.
The ministry is required to consider all such requests, and to respond within 60 days of receiving the application to let both the applicants and the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario know whether or not it will undertake the requested review.
Pending Requests for Review
Soil Management in Agricultural Operations (R2014002): In January 2015, two Ontarians submitted an Application for Review requesting a review of the need for an act to declare the Ontario government’s support for sustainable and careful use of soil. They stated that current legislation and incentives are insufficient to encourage responsible soil management on agricultural land. The ministry agreed to undertake a review, which it expects to complete by winter 2017.
Applications for Investigation
Under the EBR, members of the public can ask certain ministries to investigate alleged contraventions of certain acts, regulations and instruments. The OMAFRA does not administer any acts that are prescribed under the EBR for Applications for Investigation.
In December 2015, the ECO invited prescribed ministries to recommit in writing to the EBR. Read the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs' recommitment to the EBR.
The ECO evaluates prescribed ministries’ performance under the EBR. Here is the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs' EBR report card for the 2015/2016 reporting year.
ECO Comment: OMAFRA executed many of its EBR responsibilities well, including posting clear, useful and detailed notices on the Environmental Registry, adhering to timelines for responding to applications, and maintaining a productive working relationship with the ECO. However, OMAFRA needs to post decision notices more promptly. OMAFRA should also respond to all requests for SEV documents promptly to show the ministry’s compliance with the EBR requirement to take every reasonable step to ensure their SEV is considered when making environmentally significant decisions.
Quality of performance:
Relative EBR Workload:
The Ontario ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) is deeply committed to the Environmental Registry and the ministry’s statutory obligations under the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993.
The EBR Report Card for the 2015/2016 fiscal year confirms the value that the ministry places on using the Environmental Registry as an important vehicle for public engagement. OMAFRA acknowledges the areas for improvement that the ECO has identified in the EBR Report Card, and is committed to improving its performance in the future. Moving forward, OMAFRA is working to update its internal processes to better ensure consistency with its EBR responsibilities.
OMAFRA will continue to apply its Statement of Environmental Values (SEV) in making decisions that may have a significant effect on the environment. OMAFRA will be updating the ministry’s SEV by the summer of this year.
Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) - Percentage of all Policy, Act and Regulation Proposal and Decision Notices, 2015/2016:
OMAFRA by the numbers in 2015/2016
To view other ministries’ EBR report cards, go to Government Performance on this website and select the ministry of your choice.
The ECO’s full report to the Legislative Assembly on the 2015/2016 EBR report cards can be accessed here.
In our reports, the ECO makes recommendations to improve EBR compliance and environmental protection. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has several outstanding ECO recommendations, including:
- The ECO recommends that the OMAFRA and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change undertake monitoring to determine the prevalence and effects of neonicotinoids in soil, waterways and wild plants (2013/2014 Annual Report).
- The ECO recommends that the OMAFRA amend the Drainage Act and its policies to ensure that provincially significant wetlands are protected from being drained (2009/2010 Annual Report).
- In 2014, the public submitted over 52,000 comments through the Environmental Registry on Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs' proposal to enhance pollinator health and reduce the use of neonicotinoid pesticides. The ministry reported that it carefully considered the public's comments in developing a draft Action Plan.
Since 2000, the annual ECO Recognition Award has recognized the hard work of ministry staff in an initiative that benefits Ontario’s environment and meets the goals of the EBR. Every year, the ECO asks prescribed ministries to submit programs and projects to be considered for the award. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has not yet been the recipient of the ECO Recognition Award.