Holding polluters accountable by enhancing Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks’ enforcement tools

ERO number
019-0023
Notice type
Act
Act
Environmental Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Notice stage
Decision
Decision posted
Comment period
May 1, 2019 - May 31, 2019 (30 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:
May 1, 2019
to May 31, 2019

Decision summary

We are delivering on our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan commitment to hold polluters accountable by expanding the use of administrative monetary penalties and modernizing the process to seize vehicle permits and plates. Once implemented, these changes will strengthen our enforcement tools to ensure compliance with environmental laws.

Decision details

As committed to in our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan, we are holding polluters accountable by strengthening the enforcement tools we can use to ensure compliance with environmental laws that help protect and preserve our air, land and water.

These measures will also help us level the playing field between those acting responsibly and violators, including repeat offenders, by removing the economic benefit gained from breaking the law and ensuring consequences are proportionate to the violation.

We have amended the Environmental Protection Act to:

  • enable us to expand the use of administrative monetary penalties that could be issued for environmental contraventions;
  • modernize the process to seize vehicle permits and plates when serious environmental contraventions occur

Once implemented via regulation and proclamation, these changes will:

  • address gaps in the ministry’s compliance and enforcement toolkit;
  • allow us to better protect our communities and keep our air, land and water clean and healthy

To ensure a seamless transition from the existing administrative monetary penalties (i.e. environmental penalties) to the new framework, changes to the Environmental Protection Act will be proclaimed at a later date when regulations are proposed and finalized.

We expect consultation and stakeholder engagement on a proposal to implement administrative monetary penalties, including draft regulations, to occur in 2021.

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks is working with the Ministry of Transportation to implement a modernized approach to vehicle permits and plates. An implementation date is to be determined.

Comments received

Through the registry

15

By email

5

By mail

0
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

We received a total of 20 comments from stakeholders and the public including:

  • members of the public (13 submissions)
  • municipal sector (2 submissions)
  • conservation authorities (2 submissions)
  • industry associations (1 submission)
  • agricultural sector (1 submission)
  • environmental non-governmental organizations (1 submission)

Overall, stakeholders and the public generally support the proposal.

Stakeholders did raise the following two concerns, to which responses are provided below:

  1. There was insufficient consultation before the release of the proposal.

    Response:

    We initially consulted with Ontarians on strengthening the ministry’s compliance and enforcement toolkit via the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan. We heard that Ontarians supported stronger measures to protect our communities and our environment.

    We will engage with stakeholders in 2021 on the development and implementation of administrative monetary penalties for environmental contraventions, including releasing draft regulations.

  2. Ensure administrative monetary penalties are high enough to recover economic benefits gained from violating environmental laws and change behaviour, while using them to complement other enforcement tools.

    Response:

    Currently, the ministry is not permitted to issue administrative monetary penalties (i.e. environmental penalties) for many contraventions and can only issue them to about 140 facilities in certain industrial sectors. This is a gap in the ministry’s compliance and enforcement toolkit, which is why we are making changes to expand the suite of contraventions these penalties could be applied to, and who they could be issued to, to be completed via regulation.

    Unlike the current administrative monetary penalties (i.e. environmental penalties), if the economic benefit associated with the contravention exceeds the statutory maximum penalty amount – the penalty can exceed this maximum in order to recover the full economic benefit the violator incurred.

    However, if the ministry determines the contravention warrants prosecution, the ministry reserves the right to take offenders to court, even if a penalty has been issued. If a contravention warrants a prosecution and an entity is convicted, it can face a fine and other consequences, e.g. court order, in addition to any administrative monetary penalty that is issued.

    The new administrative monetary penalty regime would be an added tool in our compliance and enforcement toolkit to be used alongside orders and prosecution. These changes will increase the options that ministry compliance officers have to get violators into compliance and to deter future non-compliance.

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.

Divisional Compliance Branch
Address

135 ST CLAIR AVENUE WEST
FLOOR 8
TORONTO, ON
M4V 1P5
Canada

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Contact

André Martin

Phone number
Email address
Office
Compliance, Planning and Spills Action Centre
Address

135 St. Clair Ave. West
8th Floor
Toronto , ON
M4V 1P5
Canada

Office phone number

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Original proposal

ERO number
019-0023
Notice type
Act
Act
Environmental Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Proposal posted

Comment period

May 1, 2019 - May 31, 2019 (30 days)

Proposal details

Environmental Protection Act

The Environmental Protection Act is the principal pollution control statute in Ontario. It aims to protect and conserve Ontario’s natural environment.

Key commitments in the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan, released for public consultation in November 2018, include:

  • holding polluters accountable by strengthening enforcement tools to comply with environmental laws
  • holding those who do not follow those laws responsible

We are proposing to address excess soil management in Ontario (013-5000). This includes proposed amendments to the Environmental Protection Act. If passed, these changes would strengthen enforcement tools available to front-line provincial officers in order to better ensure clean air, clean water and clean land for Ontario families.

The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks has identified gaps in its compliance and enforcement toolkit, affecting its ability to effectively hold polluters accountable.

These new enforcement tools will help level the playing field between those acting responsibly and violators by removing potential economic benefits associated with breaking Ontario’s environmental laws. This will also allow the ministry to take strong action against those who violate environmental laws, such as haulers that dump excess or contaminated soil illegally.

The proposed amendments, if enacted, would not impose any new regulatory burden or costs on Ontarians who follow the province’s environmental laws.

Proposed amendments

The proposed amendments to the Environmental Protection Act would:

1. Enable administrative penalties for a broad range of environmental violations under the act. To take effect, violations that may be subject to an administrative penalty would need to be prescribed in regulations

Provisions under the administrative penalties scheme include:

  • a $200,000 maximum administrative penalty per contravention, or higher if the economic benefit achieved via the violation was higher (penalty amounts would be set by a regulation)
  • ability to review and/or appeal the administrative penalty
  • an annual report listing the administrative penalties issued in the last year
  • provisions to enable the implementation of administrative penalties in regulation (e.g. how to set administrative penalty amounts, who they can apply to, and how violators can seek reductions in penalty amounts for taking action to prevent or mitigate the contravention)

2. ​​​​​Permit and modernize the process to seize vehicle plates when serious environmental violations occur that put at risk the province’s clean air, clean water or clean land. This includes:

  • a process to seize and dispose of plates from Ontario vehicles and out-of-province vehicles
  • requiring that notice of the seizure be provided to the driver of the vehicle, the owner of the vehicle, and the Registrar (Ministry of Transportation)
  • ensuring no new plates or permits are issued to the permit holder of the vehicle by the Registrar until a further notice is provided that the matter has been resolved, or until the prescribed prohibition period ends
  • If convicted of an offence, allowing for a court order to prevent the violator from obtaining new plates and permits within a specified time period

Purpose of the act

We are responsible for:

  • ensuring compliance with Ontario’s environmental laws;
  • enforcing those laws when needed.

Changes to our compliance and enforcement toolkit are needed to better hold polluters accountable. The proposed amendments to the Environmental Protection Act enable these changes.

Administrative penalties and seizure powers related to vehicle plates currently exist under the Environmental Protection Act. The proposed legislative amendments broaden and modernize this authority by addressing the following needs:

  1. We currently use administrative penalties in the form of environmental penalties. These can be imposed for certain types of violations, but are limited to those that impact land and water by regulated persons (i.e. corporations) in specific sectors. This current gap leaves many program areas with limited enforcement tools. These proposed amendments would allow for future regulations to prescribe administrative penalties in areas such as the management of excess soil to help fill this gap.
  2. With regard to existing seizure powers, we are adding and modernizing the process to seize vehicle plates when an environmental violation occurs, as appropriate. The proposed amendments would apply to both Ontario and out-of-province licence plates. These amendments would allow us to continue taking strong action against those who violate environmental laws, such as haulers that illegally dump excess or contaminated soil, including out-of-province haulers.

Other information

Administrative penalties

An administrative penalty is a monetary penalty for non-compliance that provides an incentive to the recipient to return to compliance.

Administrative penalties are used across the Government of Ontario as an enforcement tool in regulated program areas such as forestry, consumer protection, energy, private colleges, waste diversion and retirement homes.

Seizure powers

Ontario currently has the authority to seize vehicle plates under several pieces of legislation when violations occur, effectively reducing the risk of potential harm to the environment or Ontarians (e.g. the Environmental Protection Act, the Nutrient Management Act, 2002, the Ontario Water Resources Act, the Pesticides Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002).

Please see Bill 108, More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019 for proposed legislation.

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.

Compliance, Planning and Spills Action Centre
Address

135 St. Clair Ave. West
8th Floor
Toronto , ON
M4V 1P5
Canada

Office phone number

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from May 1, 2019
to May 31, 2019

Connect with us

Contact

André Martin

Phone number
Email address
Office
Compliance, Planning and Spills Action Centre
Address

135 St. Clair Ave. West
8th Floor
Toronto , ON
M4V 1P5
Canada

Office phone number