Premier Wynne fails first environmental test

For Immediate Release 
Toronto: Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner is slamming the Liberal government for gutting Ontario’s Endangered Species Act (ESA).
“The Wynne government has failed its first major environmental test,” says Schreiner. “The Liberal’s short-sighted attack on endangered species also threaten protections for water, farmland and the well-being of our communities.”
On Friday the Liberal Cabinet announced major exemptions to protections for endangered plants and animals. The changes include a five-year exemption for the forestry sector and sweeping exemptions for pits and quarries, renewable energy, hydro, mining, infrastructure development, waste management, and commercial and residential development. The changes also dramatically reduce government oversight of activities affecting Ontario’s lakes, rivers, forests and wildlife.
“The rules are already stacked against community groups fighting to protect natural heritage,” says Schreiner. “It is appalling that the Liberals are once again putting private interests ahead of good public policy. We can’t let them bulldoze over our children’s future.”
Instead of trashing the environment to balance the budget, the Green Party is calling for full cost recovery and user fees to cover the cost of environmental protections.
“We need innovative solutions to pay for environmental protections,” Schreiner says.  “There is no need to trash our environment to cut costs. Greens support the Drummond Report’s recommendations to charge user fees to pay for environmental protections.”
The Green Party is also calling on the government to support paying farmers and landowners for environmental good and services, like species protection, that benefit everyone. Other provinces and countries have successfully implemented such programs.
“Instead of destroying species or regulating farmers out of business, Ontario should pay farmers and landowners for environmental good and services that benefit everyone,” Schreiner adds. “Other provinces and jurisdictions are ahead of us in recognizing the economic value of environmental goods and services.”