Statement from Environmental Defence’s Programs Director, Keith Brooks

Ontario continues to play pretend with its Made-In-Ontario Environmental Plan, while its actions – and lack thereof – show that the province has no intention of actually protecting the environment. Not only is the government failing to protect natural spaces and endangered species, but they are moving to kneecap Conservation Authorities, so developers can build warehouses on wetlands.

When it comes to climate change, to say the achievement of Ontario’s 2030 target is at risk is putting it very generously. This government has axed practically every climate program in Ontario, taken the federal government to court to block climate action, violated the Constitution with their misleading carbon tax stickers, and failed to deliver on any elements of their environmental plan intended to reduce emissions. Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions actually increased in 2018, the same year this government took power, after nearly a decade of declining emissions.

The way in which the government has routinely flouted the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR), as discussed in the Auditor General’s report, is more evidence that this government views the environment as nothing more than “red tape” that should be cut. Ontarians should be outraged that the government side-stepped the EBR 197 times during the pandemic without justification.

This year’s Auditor General report confirms that Ontario’s promises to protect and preserve our environment are hollow. The Made-In-Ontario Environment Plan has been sitting on a shelf gathering dust, while this government ignores its promised actions to fight climate change, protect green spaces and endangered species, and follow the legal duty to include Ontarians in the decision-making process for major environmental legislation.

Some highlights from the Auditor General’s report include:

  • Inadequate staffing at the Environment Ministry and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is making it impossible to prevent or even properly assess harm from invasive species, hunting and fishing in provincial parks, conservation reserves, wilderness areas and other protected areas.  These ministries also failed to establish targets on matters as fundamental as the protection and recovery of species at risk, aquatic ecosystems, and the Niagara Escarpment
  • Promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings – mostly from natural gas use – have been largely ignored while natural gas use increases, jeopardizing this government’s 2030 climate target
  • The Ontario government routinely failed to post environmentally significant legislation for proper consultation, as required by the Environmental Bill of Rights. The Environment Ministry also used COVID-19 to inappropriately exempt decisions for 197 environmentally significant permits and approvals that were unrelated to the pandemic

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Allen Braude, Environmental Defence, abraude@environmentaldefence.ca, cell: 416-356-2587