The Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) was proclaimed in February 1994. The founding principles of the EBR are stated in its Preamble:
- The people of Ontario recognize the inherent value of the natural environment.
- The people of Ontario have a right to a healthful environment.
- The people of Ontario have as a common goal the protection, conservation and restoration of the natural environment for the benefit of present and future generations.
While the government has the primary responsibility for achieving this goal, Ontarians should have the means to ensure that it is achieved in an effective, timely, open and fair manner.
The purposes of the Act are:
- To protect, conserve and where reasonable, restore the integrity of the environment;
- To provide sustainability of the environment by the means provided in the Act; and
- To protect the right to a healthful environment by the means provided in the Act.
These purposes include the following:
- The prevention, reduction and elimination of the use, generation and release of pollutants that are an unreasonable threat to the integrity of the environment.
- The protection and conservation of biological, ecological and genetic diversity.
- The protection and conservation of natural resources, including plant life, animal life and ecological systems.
- The encouragement of the wise management of our natural resources, including plant life, animal life and ecological systems.
- The identification, protection and conservation of ecologically sensitive areas or processes.
To assist in fulfilling these purposes, the Act provides:
- The means by which Ontarians may participate in the making of environmentally significant decisions by the Government of Ontario;
- Increased accountability of the Government of Ontario for its environmental decision-making;
- Increased access to the courts by residents of Ontario for the protection of the environment; and
- Enhanced protection for employees who take action in respect of environmental harm.
The EBR requires a Statement of Environmental Values from all designated ministries. The designated ministries are listed at this link.
Statements of Environmental Values (SEV) are a means for designated government ministries to record their commitment to the environment and be accountable for ensuring consideration of the environment in their decisions. A SEV explains:
- how the purposes of the EBR will be applied when decisions that might significantly affect the environment are made in the Ministry; and
- how consideration of the purposes of the EBR will be integrated with other considerations, including social, economic and scientific considerations, that are part of decision-making in the Ministry.
It is each Minister's responsibility to take every reasonable step to ensure that the SEV is considered whenever decisions that might significantly affect the environment are made in the Ministry.
The Ministry will examine the SEV on a periodic basis to ensure the Statements are current.
2. Ministry vision and key activity areas
The Ministry’s vision is:
Safe and strong communities with abundant greenspace, economies that are thriving and prosperous, and a range of housing choices
The Ministry’s major areas of responsibility, service and program delivery include:
- Develop and administer the policy and regulatory frameworks for local government, land use planning, residential tenancy, affordable and social housing, and building regulation.
- Deliver land use planning services under the Planning Act, ensuring that the Provincial Policy Statement and provincial plans, including the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, are implemented.
- Develop, fund and administer programs in support of social and affordable housing, including administration of the Canada-Ontario Affordable Housing Program.
- Work to ensure that Ontario Government policies and programs which impact municipalities are developed in accordance with provincial responsibilities under the Memorandum of Understanding with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and the Agreement on Cooperation and Consultation with the City of Toronto.
- Manage the provincial-municipal relationship including Ontario’s approach to an evolving federal-provincial-municipal relationship.
- Act as a centre of expertise and provide advice, education and training on a regional basis for municipalities and other stakeholders.
- Develop and administer disaster and emergency recovery and other transfer payment programs to assist communities and individuals, and other programs in support of community development, municipal governance and accountability.
The Ministry’s vision and mandate are implemented through six strategies:
- Maintaining strong relationships with local governments;
- Promoting building safety, accessibility and energy efficiency;
- Increasing and maintaining the supply of affordable housing;
- Protecting tenants;
- Ensuring well-planned and healthy communities while protecting greenspace; and
- Providing effective and efficient value-added corporate services.
Specific details on the responsibilities of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing can be found on the Ministry website.
3. Application of the SEV
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is committed to applying the purposes of the EBR when decisions that might significantly affect the environment need to be made in the Ministry, and as it develops acts, regulations and policies.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has established an Environmental Principle to accompany each of its strategies.
Maintaining strong relationships with local governments
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing will provide municipal governance tools and structures for environmentally responsible decision making by municipal governments on matters that can have environmental implications.
Promoting building safety, accessibility and energy efficiency
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, through the Building Code Act, 1992 and the Building Code, will support a regulatory system that enhances environmental integrity and resource conservation.
Increasing and maintaining the supply of affordable housing
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing will develop environmentally responsible programs with affordable housing initiatives, including use of brownfields sites, intensification and energy efficiency.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing will continue to promote and support energy efficiency measures in assisted rental housing as a way of minimizing energy costs in these buildings and associated rent increases due to rising energy costs.
Ensuring well-planned and healthy communities while protecting greenspace
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing will support a land use planning system that promotes sustainable communities by effectively directing growth, preserving green space, and ensuring wise management and use of resources.
Providing effective and efficient value-added corporate services
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing will provide EBR training to Ministry staff and information resources on EBR.
4. Integration with other considerations
The Municipal Affairs and Housing will take into account social, environmental, economic and other considerations; these will be integrated with the purposes of the EBR when decisions that might significantly affect the environment need to be made.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing will support initiatives of other ministries, including growth management, source water protection, climate change, energy supply and stronger rural communities.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing will encourage energy conservation in those sectors where it provides policy direction or programs.
5. Monitoring the use of the SEV
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing will monitor and assess changes in its activities, and will review and report on its progress in implementing the SEV.
The Ministry is committed to developing a process to monitor and track the consideration of the SEV in its environmental decision-making.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing believes that public consultation is vital to sound environmental decision-making. The Ministry will provide opportunities for an open and consultative process when making decisions that might significantly affect the environment.
7. Consideration of Aboriginal peoples
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing recognizes the value that Aboriginal peoples place on the environment. When making decisions that might significantly affect the environment, the Ministry will provide opportunities for involvement of Aboriginal peoples whose interests may be affected by such decisions so that Aboriginal interests can be appropriately considered. This commitment is not intended to alter or detract from any constitutional obligation the province may have to consult with Aboriginal peoples.
8. Greening of internal operations
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing believes in the wise use and conservation of natural resources.
The Ministry will support Government of Ontario initiatives to conserve energy and water in its own operations, and to wisely use our air and land resources in order to generate environmental, health and economic benefits for present and future generations.
The Ministry will continue to identify and adopt ways to conserve both energy and resources in its own operations. Options include minimizing paper use, encouraging office lights be turned off when possible, explicitly considering the environmental impact of various options when decisions on acquiring goods and services are made, and promoting environmentally respectful office practices such as teleconferencing,
green meetings and
paperless education and training practices. The Ministry will also continue to educate and encourage staff on the 3Rs – reduction, reuse and recycling – to divert materials from disposal.