Amendments to Three Statutes administered by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to support the proposed Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019 and a proposal for a new regulation under the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act

ERO number
019-0732
Notice type
Act
Posted by
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Notice stage
Decision Updated
Decision posted
Comment period
October 28, 2019 - November 27, 2019 (30 days) Closed
Last updated

Update Announcement

We have updated the decision summary, decision details and effects of consultation to include the decision on Ontario Regulation 102/20.

April 20, 2020

This consultation was open from:
October 28, 2019
to November 27, 2019

Decision summary

Bill 132, The Better for People, Smarter for Business Act 2019, received Royal Assent on December 10, 2019 and amended the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, the Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act and the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act (LRIA).

Ontario Regulation 102/20 Monitoring of Mercury Near Dams under the LRIA was approved on March 30, 2020.

Decision details

The Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019 was introduced on October 28, 2019 and received Royal Assent on December 10, 2019.

Schedule 15 (previously Schedule 16) of the Act sets out legislative amendments in the Crown Forest Sustainability Act,1994, the Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act and the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act.

A new Minister’s regulation, Ontario Regulation 102/20 Monitoring of Mercury Near Dams under the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act was approved. The regulation was filed by the Registrar of Regulations and took effect on March 30, 2020.

Comments received

Through the registry

29

By email

351

By mail

1
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

Approximately 381 comments were submitted in response to or specifically referenced the Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO) number for this proposal. Of these, approximately 342 were form letters submitted via email identifying concerns with the exemption of waterpower from the requirement of obtaining a Permit to Take Water under the Ontario Water Resources Act as well as the transfer of authority for methylmercury assessment and monitoring to the MNRF.

Submissions were made by members of the public, Indigenous communities, municipalities and a range of interested stakeholders, including community groups, industry, and environment and resource-based sectors.

Comments received on this proposal during the comment period were considered by the government in making the decision to amend the three statutes and in the development and approval of a new Minister's regulation under the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act.

Presentations made to the Standing Committee on General Government specific to schedule 15 were also considered.  In addition, comments made to the Clerk and on the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade’s Environmental Registry posting (ERO Notice 019-0774) that relate to schedule 15 were also considered.

Summary of Comments

There was a mixture of support and concern related to the proposed amendments to the three statutes. A number of comments expressed general concern about the importance of regulation to protect the environment, as well as the limited timeframe available to review and comment on proposals.

Some Indigenous communities and organizations expressed concerns about the lack of consultation and the short timeframe provided for feedback on the proposed amendments.

These comments will inform future work by the Ministry in these areas.

The following provides a summary of the comments received relating to the proposed legislative amendments and new Minister's regulation under the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act and the ministry’s response to those comments.

Crown Forest Sustainability Act,1994

MNRF received comments about removing Ministerial approval of forestry annual work schedules and providing the ability for the Minister to extend a Forest Management Plan in accordance with the requirements of the Forest Management Planning Manual. More specifically, comments expressed concern over the potential lack of oversight MNRF would have to ensure annual forest operations were consistent with the Forest Management Plan, and the potential for compromising MNRF’s ability to consult with First Nation and Métis communities related to those annual operations.

The changes to the Crown Forest Sustainability Act align with the draft Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy which will reduce barriers, create jobs, and promote economic growth, while continuing to ensure sustainable forest management.

The Crown Forest Sustainability Act has comprehensive tools and mechanisms in place under its forest management planning framework (e.g., Forest Management Planning Manual) to maintain oversight, to protect the environment during forest operations and to assist with meeting the Crown’s duty to consult obligations with First Nation and Métis communities. The amendments to the Crown Forest Sustainability Act are enabling and do not reduce MNRF’s ability to maintain environmental protections and consult with First Nation and Métis communities. These amendments will also help to modernize government services, reduce unnecessary duplication and enable better responsiveness to forest industry needs.

Oil, Gas, Salt and Resources Act

MNRF received one comment in response to the proposed Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act changes. The comment requested the proposed changes to the definition of 'well' and the rules-in-regulation approaches be withdrawn.  The commenter indicated that before the proposed amendments are made, there must be robust consultation with community stakeholders and Indigenous communities on the details of potential future exemptions from licensing.

Future regulations, enabled by the amendment to the statute, are required before these changes will have effect. Any future regulatory proposals would be subject to appropriate consultation with Indigenous communities as well as consultation with the public, industry and other stakeholders.

Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act

MNRF received comments expressing support and concern about the changes to the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act and a new Minister's regulation. Supportive comments endorsed the removing of certain approvals, reducing costs, and increasing efficiency of waterpower producers.

Concern was expressed about the lack of detail in the proposal relating to monitoring and reporting requirements associated with the proposed “one window” approach for waterpower facilities. Concerns were also raised that requirements under the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act will not achieve the same level of protection for the environment as a Permit to Take Water under the Ontario Water Resources Act. Concern was also expressed that the appeal mechanism that exists for a Permit to Take Water decision under the Ontario Water Resources Act would be lost.   

Recommendations were made for methylmercury plans to apply in flood, low water and emergency situations. In addition, an appeal mechanism was also suggested.

Ontario Regulation 102/20 Monitoring of Mercury Near Dams

The new Minister’s regulation, Monitoring of Mercury Near Dams, establishes the requirement for owners of dams that had mercury monitoring and reporting requirements previously established through an Ontario Water Resources Act permit to take water, to maintain these requirements in a mercury monitoring plan submitted and approved under authority of the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act.

The regulation does not at this time, prescribe requirements for dams that may be built or redeveloped in the future and for which there may be need for mercury monitoring and reporting, on the basis that:

  • this approach provides the opportunity to assess the effectiveness and results of existing and proposed mercury monitoring and reporting practices
  • there are no new waterpower facilities currently in the regulatory or development processes, for which there are regulatory agency concerns about mercury impacts

MNRF’s objective is to reduce regulatory burden while maintaining regulatory effectiveness for the waterpower sector by moving towards a one-window approvals approach for the industry under the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act. Requirements to address waterpower facility impacts related to methylmercury, including monitoring and reporting and notification are now addressed through the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act. This proposed one-window approach addresses mercury impacts and provides some cost savings for facilities while maintaining environmental protections for new and existing waterpower facilities.  

Some of the comments received related to proposed changes to the Aggregate Resources Act, also proposed in Schedule 15 of the Act. Consideration of these comments will be addressed in a separate decision notice regarding the proposed amendments to the Aggregate Resources Act. See related Environmental Registry Ontario links section below for more information.

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.

Strategic Policy Section, Policy Division Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Address

99 Wellesley Street West
Whitney Block, Floor 5
Toronto, ON
M7A 1W3
Canada

Connect with us

Contact

Tigist Abebe

Phone number
Email address
Office
Strategic Policy Section, Policy Division Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Address

99 Wellesley Street West
Whitney Block, Floor 5
Toronto, ON
M7A 1W3
Canada

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Original proposal

ERO number
019-0732
Notice type
Act
Posted by
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Proposal posted

Comment period

October 28, 2019 - November 27, 2019 (30 days)

Proposal details

The Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019, if passed, would enact several legislative amendments that support improving Ontario’s competitiveness, reducing unnecessary red tape and regulatory burden on business, without compromising safeguards that protect public health and wellbeing, safety and the environment.

The following outlines MNRF’s key proposed changes:

Crown Forest Sustainability Act, 1994

The proposed amendments would support changes to the forest management policy framework to reduce burdens to industry and streamline delivery by government. The proposed amendments would, if passed:

  • enable the issuance of a “permit” to allow a person to remove forest resources from a Crown forest for non-forestry purposes (e.g., roads, mining, utility corridors).
  • modernize the requirements for annual work schedules by removing the requirement for MNRF approvals.
  • enable the Minister to extend a Forest Management Plan.

Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act

The proposed amendments would, if passed:

  • allow future regulations to be made, where appropriate, to relieve existing activities from requirements that would apply to new activities.
  • enable the use of a rules-in-regulation approach, or the mandatory issuance of approvals for more activities, subject to conditions and requirements that would be set out in regulation intended to streamline approvals for the specified approval.
  • clarify the types of geological evaluation and testing activities captured by the definition of “well”.

Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act

The proposed legislative amendments would, if passed:

  • Create a new Minister’s regulation-making authority in the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act to allow the Minister to require some owners of electricity-producing dams to, where necessary, assess, monitor and report on methyl mercury related impacts to water and fish.
  • Amend an existing authority to incorporate guidelines by reference in the regulations.

Regulation Proposal

  • If the proposed Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act legislative amendment is passed, the ministry proposes to develop a subsequent Minister’s regulation that if made, would require some dam owners of electricity-producing dams to, where necessary, assess, monitor and report on mercury levels in surface water and/or fish tissue. We are also seeking comments on this proposed regulation via this notice.

Owners of the twelve existing dams that currently have mercury assessment, monitoring and reporting requirements established through Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks issued Permits to Take Water, would, if the regulation is made, continue these requirements under the authority of the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act and reporting would be to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Each of these twelve Permits to Take Water were subject to consultation prior to their issuance.

New or significantly redeveloped electricity-producing dams may, if the regulation is made, require assessment, monitoring and reporting of mercury, where there is a new or expanded head pond area and/or where there are identified risks associated with human consumption of fish.

The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks is concurrently consulting on a proposal to amend the Ontario Water Resources Act Permit to Take Water requirements for electricity-producing facilities. See related Environmental Registry Ontario links below for more information.

In addition, there are other administrative and housekeeping changes proposed for the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, 1994 and the Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act.

Proposed changes to the Aggregate Resources Act are also included in the proposed Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019 and are the subject of a separate registry proposal posting. See related Environmental Registry Ontario links section below for more information. Please note the posting related to proposed changes to the Aggregate Resources Act will close on November 4, 2019.

For more information on other proposed changes included in the proposed Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019, please see the related external links section below.

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.

Strategic Policy Section, Policy Division Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Address

99 Wellesley Street West
Whitney Block, Floor 5
Toronto, ON
M7A 1W3
Canada

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from October 28, 2019
to November 27, 2019

Connect with us

Contact

Tigist Abebe

Phone number
Email address
Office
Strategic Policy Section, Policy Division Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Address

99 Wellesley Street West
Whitney Block, Floor 5
Toronto, ON
M7A 1W3
Canada