The Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) was proclaimed in February 1994. The founding principles of the EBR Act 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 is primarily responsible 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 by the means provided in the Act.
- To provide sustainability of the environment by the means provided in the Act.
- 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 (SEV) from all designated ministries. The designated ministries are listed on the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry at: https://ero.ontario.ca/page/sevs.
The SEV is a means for prescribed 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 are to be applied when decisions that might significantly affect the environment are made in the Ministry;
- How consideration of the purposes of the EBR should be integrated with other considerations, including social, economic and scientific references that are part of decision-making in the Ministry;
- It is 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; and
- The Ministry will review the SEV every five years, at a maximum, to ensure the Statement is current.
2. Ministry vision, mandate and business
Leading the government’s efforts on accountability, openness and modernization, we help deliver good government and excellent public services in the most effective and efficient way possible.
To bring people and ideas together to deliver excellence for Ontarians.
We CELEBRATE each other’s differences.
We OWN our decisions and back them up with evidence.
We COMMUNICATE openly and transparently with each other and our partners.
We CHAMPION innovative solutions, creative thinking and smart risk-taking.
We BUILD strong partnerships to deliver exceptional results.
We ENABLE OPS-wide collaboration by working in teams to break down silos.
Specific details on the business responsibilities of the Treasury Board Secretariat can be found on the Ministry website https://www.ontario.ca/page/treasury-board-secretariat.
3. Application of the SEV
The Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) is committed to applying the purposes of the EBR when making decisions that might significantly affect the environment and as it develops Acts, regulations, and policies. In addition, the Treasury Board Secretariat will take action to support the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the province’s transition to a resilient and prosperous low-carbon economy.
4. Integration with other considerations
The Treasury Board Secretariat will integrate the purposes of the EBR with other considerations, including social, economic and scientific considerations when making decisions that might significantly affect the natural environment. The EBR purposes of conserving, protecting and, where feasible, restoring the natural environment, providing for the sustainability of the natural environment and protecting the public's right to a healthful environment will be objectives of the Ministry when making decisions that might significantly affect the natural environment as well as other considerations.
5. Monitoring use of the SEV
The Treasury Board Secretariat will document how the SEV was considered each time a decision that might significantly affect the environment is posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry. The Ministry will ensure that staff involved in such decisions are aware of the Ministry’s Environmental Bill of Rights obligations and the appropriate use of the SEV in decision-making.
Treasury Board Secretariat believes in being accountable for its environmental decision-making. The Treasury Board Secretariat also believes that open consultation is vital to sound decision-making. The Ministry will provide opportunities for the people of Ontario to participate in the making of environmentally significant decisions by the Ministry.
7. Climate change
The Treasury Board Secretariat believes that the public interest requires a broad effort to reduce greenhouse gases and to build a cleaner and more prosperous province. The Ministry will continue to involve and engage individuals, businesses, communities, municipalities, non-governmental organizations and First Nation and Métis communities to foster a high-productivity low-carbon economy and society in Ontario.
The Ministry will also work with partner ministries, such as the Environment Ministry, to consider environmental mitigation and adaptation as part of the government decision-making process. This will include greenhouse gas impact analyses for government policies, legislation and regulations, as well as adaptation considerations for public infrastructure investments and government procurement decisions.
8. Consideration of indigenous people
The Treasury Board Secretariat recognizes the value that Indigenous people place on the environment. When making decisions that might significantly affect the environment, the Ministry will provide opportunities for the involvement of Indigenous people whose interests may be affected by such decisions so that Indigenous 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 Indigenous people.
9. Greening of internal operations and energy conservation
The Treasury Board Secretariat believes in the wise use and conservation of natural resources. The Ministry will support the Government of Ontario’s initiatives to conserve energy and water and wisely use our air and land resources to generate environmental, health and economic benefits for present and future generations.
The Ministry will continue to encourage energy conservation and resource conservation in its operations by, for example, ensuring that office lights are turned off when possible, office equipment is turned off when not in use and explicitly considering the environmental performance of various options when equipment leases or purchase decisions are made. The ministry will also continue to educate and encourage staff on the 3Rs – reduction, reuse and recycling – to divert materials from disposal.