The Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) umbrella is about to get a little larger. This past week, the government made several decisions that expand the reach of the EBR and the application of Ontarians’ environmental rights.
First, the government decided that, come July 1, 2016, the Treasury Board Secretariat will be prescribed under the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 (EBR). This means the Treasury Board Secretariat, which houses the Ontario Public Service Green Office, will have to post environmentally significant proposals on the Environmental Registry and consider any public comments it receives before making a final decision. It must also draft a Statement of Environmental Values, which it must consider when making decisions that could affect the environment.
The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) asked the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) to prescribe the Treasury Board Secretariat under the EBR last fall (the Secretariat was previously subject to EBR requirements as part of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services), and we commend the MOECC for acting swiftly to uphold Ontarians’ environmental rights.
Second, the MOECC decided to prescribe the Places to Grow Act, 2005 and the Invasive Species Act, 2015 (which comes into force on November 3, 2016) under the EBR. As of July 1, any proposal to make or change a regulation under these acts must be posted to the Environmental Registry for public comment.
The Invasive Species Act will also be subject to Parts IV and V of the EBR, which require the responsible ministry (in this case the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) to respond to members of the public who ask the government to: review the Act or its regulations (using Applications for Review); or to investigate alleged contraventions of the Act or its regulations (using Applications for Investigation). The Places to Grow Act will also subject to Applications for Review (Part IV of the EBR), which would be handled by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
The MOECC moved quickly to prescribe the Invasive Species Act under the EBR shortly after it was passed, ensuring that the public will be able to know about and comment on the Act’s regulations as soon as it comes into force.
The ECO has called on the MOECC to prescribe the Places to Grow Act for a number of years, and we are pleased to see that the public will finally be able to know about and properly comment on regulations under this environmentally significant law, and to ask the government to review its contents and regulations.
For more information on these changes to the EBR, read the decision notice on the Environmental Registry.
To make sure you never miss your chance to comment on the environmental issues and laws you care about most, sign up for the ECO’s Registry Alerts.