Budget bill threatens environmental protections, transparent and accountable government

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It’s wrong for the Liberal government to bury significant changes to the protection of our communities and our natural heritage in a 351 page budget bill — Bill 55.  This lack of transparency and public accountability is not right.  

The GPO believes Bill 55 must be revised.  It is misleading for the Liberal government to roll back environmental protections under the guise of saving money.

The Ontario budget released on March 22 proposes changes to 69 Acts, including eight environmentally significant laws affecting the Ministry of Natural Resources.  These laws include: the Endangered Species Act, the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, the Public Lands Act, the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act, the Ontario Forest Tenure Modernization Act, and the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act.

These laws are prescribed under the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 (EBR).  Normally the government posts proposed changes to such laws on the Environmental Registry and solicits public comments for a minimum of 30 days.  Public comments are then considered before the government makes a final decision.  Bill 55 completely undermines this public consultation process.

The Liberal government is violating the spirit of the Environmental Bill of Rights by taking away our right as citizens to comment on changes to these Acts.  This is wrong.

The GPO is calling on the Liberal government to remove all references to amendments to Acts administered under the Environmental Bill of Rights from Bill 55.  

Any revisions to these Acts should be considered separately from omnibus Bill 55.  Proposed changes should be posted on the Environmental Registry for full public comment.

Failure to do so makes a mockery of any claims to provide transparent and accountable government.  

Ontarians want stronger, not weaker, environmental legislation to protect ourselves and future generations.  We deserve the opportunity to exercise our right to comment on these proposed legislative changes.Take action now

 

Speak out on this issue by writing a letter to the Minister Michael Gravelle  at mgravelle.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org and the Premier. A sample letter can be found here.