Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights important tool: Environmental Commissioner

Ground Water Canada
February 19, 2019
By Ground Water Canada
Toronto – Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights, unique in Canada, gives Ontarians the right to participate in environmentally significant decisions of the provincial government, Environmental Commissioner Dianne Saxe said in a news release announcing the bill's 25th anniversary.

The tools within the Environmental Bill of Rights provide the public with easier access to information about new laws and other proposals that affect the environment, said a news release from the office of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. It allows Ontarians to know about and contribute to government decisions, which helps hold the government accountable for those decisions. 

“Better environmental outcomes result when Ontarians know and use their environmental rights,” said Saxe, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario and guardian of the Environmental Bill of Rights. “Ontario’s environment is cleaner and healthier because of the Environmental Bill of Rights.”
 
For 25 years, Commissioners and their staff have helped thousands of Ontarians to understand and navigate environmental issues, laws and regulations. The Environmental Commissioner has provided the public with reliable, fact-based, non-partisan reports on energy, environment and climate change that put the environment first.  
 
Since 1994, the EBR and the ECO have contributed to positive environmental outcomes, including the provincial biodiversity strategy, the phase-out of coal-fired electricity generation, protection for species at risk, increased awareness and action on climate change, better management of protected areas and increased energy conservation, among many others.
 
Upcoming changes to the Environmental Bill of Rights will transfer some of the responsibilities of the ECO to the Auditor General and the Ontario government. These changes will close the Environmental Commissioner’s office on or before May 1, 2019. The tools of the Bill of Rights will remain available for all Ontarians.
 
“The environment is too important, and too fragile, to blindly trust the government to look after it. Ontarians need to be vigilant. Now more than ever, with climate change gathering speed, it’s about the future of the world we live in,” Saxe said. “We are lucky to have environmental rights, and we all need to speak up for what we care about.”

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