1996 Special Report

Keep The Door To Environmental Protection Open

A Special Report to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario

Submitted by Eva Ligeti, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario
October 10, 1996

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Introduction

As Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, it is my responsibility to review how provincial ministries meet the requirements of the Environmental Bill of Rights. When necessary, I submit special reports to the Legislative Assembly on matters related to the legislation.

Ontario is undergoing a massive policy shift in environmental protection. The list of recent environmental changes in the Appendix to this report is extensive, but really only shows the tip of the iceberg. The ministries are making remarkable changes to environmental safeguards either behind closed doors or with minimal public participation. This is a clear and unacceptable departure from the goals and purposes of the Environmental Bill of Rights.

I am compelled to submit this special report because I believe the elected members of the Legislative Assembly must fully understand that changing or eliminating environmental safeguards too quickly and without adequate public consultation produces poor decisions that will need to be fixed later on. That costs money and does little to safeguard the environment. Hasty proposals do not produce effective or efficient results.

I make the following recommendation to avoid future restrictions on the public’s right to participate in environmental decision making. My recommendation is practical and achievable and should be adopted immediately.

Recommendation
Ministries comply with the public participation and notification requirements of theEnvironmental Bill of Rights by:

  1. Posting environmentally significant proposals on the Environmental Registry.
  2. Providing Ontarians with adequate time, information and opportunity for comment.
  3. Assessing and reporting the environmental effects of the proposed changes.
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