Ontario Regulation 482/95 and the Environmental Bill of Rights
Submitted by Eva Ligeti, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario
January 17, 1996
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The main goal of Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights is to protect, conserve and restore Ontario’s natural environment for our benefit today, and for future generations. It explicitly recognizes that the government has the primary responsibility for achieving this goal.
At the same time, the Environmental Bill of Rights recognizes that the people of the province have a responsibility and a right to take part. That means they need tools to ensure that a healthy environment will be achieved in an effective, timely, open and fair manner. To this end, the Environmental Bill of Rights provides some minimum levels of public participation when government makes important decisions about the environment.
As Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, it is my responsibility to review how provincial ministries carry out the requirements of the Environmental Bill of Rights, and to report to the Legislative Assembly annually. I am also empowered to submit a special report to the Speaker of the Assembly at any time, on any matter related to theEnvironmental Bill of Rights.
This is my first special report. It concerns Ontario Regulation 482/95 (see Appendix) which was filed and came into effect on November 29, 1995 – the same day the Finance Minister, the Honourable Ernie Eves, announced the Fiscal and Economic Statement, and the same day as the first reading of Bill 26, the Savings and Restructuring Act, 1995.
Regulation 482/95 makes remarkable changes to the scope of the Environmental Bill of Rights, and also to the scope of my duties as Environmental Commissioner. I submit this special report because I believe the elected members of the Legislative Assembly must fully understand the detrimental impacts which Regulation 482/95 will have. I make the following recommendations to avoid those impacts.
1. Since many environmentally significant decisions are made by the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry should be legally required to comply with the same provisions of the Environmental Bill of Rights which were in place before Regulation 482/95 was filed.
2. All environmentally significant proposals of each prescribed ministry should be posted on the Environmental Registry according to the provisions of the Environmental Bill of Rights which were in place before Regulation 482/95 was filed. By revoking Regulation 482/95, these recommendations would be met and the spirit and intent of the Environmental Bill of Rights would be upheld.