Ministries’ Handling of EBR Applications

A Ten-Year Statistical Retrospective (2000-2010)

Under sections 57 and 58 of the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 (EBR), the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) is required to review and report on the receipt, handling and disposition of applications for review and investigation. The ECO meets this obligation by reporting in our annual reports and supplements on ministries’ handling of applications and compliance with EBR timelines and requirements. The ECO’s annual reports and supplements are available at www.eco.on.ca.

The purpose of this technical report is to provide a statistical overview of ministries’ handling of applications over a ten-year period (April 1, 2000 – March 31, 2010), including: the number of applications received, denied, undertaken and returned by each ministry; the reasons cited by ministries for denying applications; and ministries’ compliance with EBR timelines.

This report also statistically summarizes: the nature of the concerns raised in applications; the legislation alleged by applicants to have been contravened; and the ECO’s assessment of how ministries handled applications over the period, including the number of applications for which the ECO agreed with the ministry’s decision, and the primary concerns the ECO had with ministries’ application handling.

Finally, the report considers the usefulness of applications in improving environmental policy, by identifying the number of undertaken applications that were followed by government action (e.g., amendments to legislation, Director’s Orders). In particular, the number of applications for investigation for which a ministry actually visited the site of alleged contravention(s) was counted to give an indicator of the attention ministries paid to applicants’ concerns. Although site visits can be prompted by a number of things, and they are not relevant in all cases, they can demonstrate how serious ministries are in considering and following-up on contraventions alleged in applications.

By examining and analyzing ministries’ handling of applications with a decade-long perspective, the ECO is able to identify and draw attention to trends and concerns, and more fully satisfy the ECO’s duty to report to the Legislature on this subject.

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