The Ministry of Indigenous Affairs (IAO) is one of 15 Ontario ministries that is required under the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 (EBR) to include the public in its environmentally significant decision making. Click on a heading below to learn about the ministry and its EBR requirements and performance.
The Ministry of Indigenous Affairs (IAO) has a mandate to develop a stronger, broader partnership with Indigenous peoples: First Nations, Métis and Inuit people who reside in Ontario. The ministry works with other Ontario ministries to provide input into government policies and programs that affect Indigenous people. Many environmentally significant policies and programs led by other Ontario ministries affect Indigenous people or communities, such as wildlife management and Far North land use planning.
As the ministry is one of the most newly prescribed ministries under the EBR, the Environmental Commissioner is working to identify areas in which the mandates and goals of the ECO and the ministry intersect. One example is supporting Indigenous people and other members of the public to use the EBR’s tools to address environmental issues that uniquely or particularly affect Indigenous people.
Statement of Environmental Values
Each ministry that is prescribed under the EBR is required to develop a Statement of Environmental Values to guide ministry staff when making decisions that might significantly affect the environment. In September 2015, the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs completed its Statement of Environmental Values. Read the Statement of Environmental Values of the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs (IAO).
Public Notice and Consultation
Each ministry that is prescribed under the EBR is required to consult the public on certain environmentally significant proposals via the Environmental Registry. Specifically, the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs must give notice of, and consult on, any proposal to make or amend a policy or act that could have a significant effect on the environment.
The government has a special duty to consult with Indigenous people above and beyond the EBR. So, while many government proposals may directly or uniquely affect Indigenous people or communities, consultation with Indigenous communities typically occurs outside of the Environmental Registry.
Applications for Review and Investigation
Under the EBR, members of the public can ask certain ministries to review the need for a new environmental policy, act or regulation. Members of the public can also ask certain ministries to investigate alleged contraventions of certain acts, regulations and instruments. The Ministry of Indigenous Affairs, however, is not prescribed under the EBR for Applications for Review or Investigation.
In December 2015, the ECO invited prescribed ministries to renew their commitment to the EBR in writing. Read the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs' recommitment to the Environmental Bill of Rights.
The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario’s evaluation of ministry compliance with the Environmental Bill of Rights during the reporting period from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018
Ministry of Indigenous Affairs (IAO)
ECO Comment: The IAO has a relatively low EBR workload. There was little material with which the ECO could evaluate the IAO’s execution of its EBR responsibilities in 2016/2017, as the ministry did not post any notices on the Environmental Registry. The ECO encourages the MIA to ensure that it considers its EBR responsibilities whenever the ministry’s work could have a significant effect on the environment, and to respond promptly to any requests for information from the ECO.
Quality of Performance
In our reports, the ECO makes recommendations to improve EBR compliance and environmental protection. The Ministry of Indigenous Affairs does not have any outstanding ECO recommendations.
In 2007, the ECO wrote to the then Deputy Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, urging the new ministry to take the necessary steps to become prescribed under the EBR. In 2014, the government amended O. Reg. 73/94 under the EBR, prescribing the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs for the purposes of public consultation and preparing a Statement of Environmental Values. The Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs has since been renamed the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs and continues to be prescribed under the EBR.
Since 2000, the annual ECO Recognition Award has recognized the hard work of ministry staff in an initiative that benefits Ontario’s environment and meets the goals of the EBR. Every year, the ECO asks prescribed ministries to submit programs and projects to be considered for the award. The Ministry of Indigenous Affairs has not yet been the recipient of the ECO Recognition Award.