Under the Environmental Bill of Rights, Ontarians can ask the government for new laws, regulations or policies, or for changes to existing ones, by submitting an application for review. The ECO receives several of these applications each year. Most of them relate to issues for which the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) is responsible.
The EBR requires that reviews, if undertaken by the ministry, be completed within a “reasonable time.” Over the past few years, the ECO has become increasingly concerned that the MOECC is taking an unreasonably long time. After much discussion with the MOECC about this issue, in May 2016 the ECO wrote to Minister Glen Murray formally asking for progress updates on several applications.
The ECO also highlighted the issue of timeliness in ministry responses to applications in our recent EBR Performance Checkup special report. We encouraged all ministries that recieve applications to provide updates to both the applicants and the ECO on a regular basis. Regular updates about the status of applications are an important way to bring transparency and accountability to the application process.
In response to the ECO’s request, on June 17, 2016, the MOECC posted a new Information Notice on the Environmental Registry (#012-7383) providing a status report on all of its outstanding applications for review. The ECO is very pleased with this response and with the status report itself – it includes important details about each application and provides an estimated completion date. In the status report, Ontarians can learn about applications relating to air pollution, reviewing the EBR itself, fracking, waste diversion, landfills, well water quality, and pipelines. You can also learn more about the MOECC’s handling of applications on the ECO’s government performance webpage.