Public rejects changes to Endangered Species Act

The Ford government’s major omnibus bill tabled yesterday would decimate the Endangered Species Act, jeopardizing habitat protections for Ontario’s 243 species-at-risk.

The Green Party of Ontario analyzed over 1000 submissions on the government’s 10-year review of the Endangered Species Act, representing over half of the total responses.

A staggering 98% of respondents supported strong protections for endangered species, while less than 2% called for the legislation to be weakened.

“The public overwhelmingly rejects these reckless measures that threaten habitat, but the Ford government is plowing ahead to gut the Endangered Species Act, amidst a global biodiversity crisis,” said Green Party leader Mike Schreiner.

If passed, the bill would allow stunning political interference into the scientific process for determining habitat protection, allowing the minister to delay recovery plans and suspend habitat protections at his discretion, while diluting the scientific representation on the decision-making body (COSSARO).

“The PC government wants to politicize the protection of species-at-risk and grant the Minister sweeping powers to ignore science. I am disappointed that Ford would use the housing affordability crisis as political cover for caving to big developers and paving our green space,” said Schreiner.

Other changes include the potential loss of habitat protection for at-risk species that also live outside of Ontario and a pay-to-slay fund that would allow companies to pay a fee to harm wildlife and their habitat, ostensibly undermining environmental laws.

Fewer than ten of the 1000 responses analyzed mentioned any support for changes that greenlight the destruction of critical habitat.

“Paving over greenspace makes all of us more vulnerable to storms and flooding. Bulldozing habitat hinders the earth’s ability to provide millions of dollars worth of benefits, such as flood and erosion prevention, for free. Combined with cuts to flood mitigation and tree planting, the Ford government is putting us all at risk,” said Schreiner.