Discussion paper: modernizing Ontario’s environmental assessment program

ERO number
Notice type
Environmental Assessment Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Notice stage
Proposal posted
Comment period
April 25, 2019 - May 25, 2019 (30 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:

April 25, 2019
to May 25, 2019

Proposal summary

We are releasing a discussion paper to consult Ontarians on a modern vision for the environmental assessment program. The discussion paper explains key features of the environmental assessment process, communicates some immediate actions we are proposing, and sets out a vision to modernize the almost 50-year old environmental assessment program.

Proposal details

Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act was enacted in 1975 and sets out the framework for the environmental assessment program. Environmental assessments are a critical feature of environmental planning decision-making in Ontario, requiring the study and documentation of potential effects of a project, and allowing interested persons to comment on projects that may affect them.

The Environmental Assessment Act was the first of its kind in Canada, but after almost 50 years it largely remains the same. Over time, the process has become more complex, requiring analysis of social, economic, cultural, health and environmental factors. Efforts to update the environmental assessment program have been sporadic and the program has become overly complex and burdensome, discouraging job-creators from coming to Ontario to do business.

In the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan, the government committed to modernize Ontario’s environmental assessment program to ensure strong environmental protections, while eliminating duplication, streamlining processes, providing clarity to applicants, improving service standards to reduce delays, and better recognize other planning processes that have evolved over the past four decades.

Purpose of policy

This discussion paper is a first step to modernize Ontario’s environmental assessment program. The discussion paper identifies some immediate actions that will reduce regulatory burden and improve the efficiency of Class environmental assessments in Ontario. The paper also outlines a vision to bring Ontario’s environmental assessment program into the 21st century. Through the discussion paper, we ask Ontarians to consider and provide input on questions that will help to inform a modern framework for environmental assessment that:

  • ensures better alignment between the level of assessment and level of environmental risk associated with a project;
  • eliminates duplication between environmental assessment and other planning and approvals processes;
  • finds efficiencies in the environmental assessment process and related planning and approvals processes to shorten the timelines from start to finish: and
  • goes digital by permitting online submissions

Other information

For more information on the environmental assessment program please visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/environmental-assessments

Other public consultation opportunities 

There will be opportunities to consult on prescribed regulations at a later date.

The ministry is planning to host webinars for Indigenous communities and organizations, as well as stakeholder groups.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.

Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

Client Services and Permissions Branch

135 St. Clair Avenue West
1st Floor
Toronto, ON

Office phone number


Commenting is now closed.

The comment period was from April 25, 2019
to May 25, 2019

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