The province's use of emergency powers eliminates consultation requirements
The Government of Ontario has suspended core provisions of its Environmental Bill of Rights.
Normally, the provincial government must notify the public and consult on proposed decisions affecting the environment. Decisions must also take into account the responsible ministry’s Statement of Environmental Values (policy statements explaining how the ministry will apply environmental rights and environmental protection). But the government has suspended these requirements during the current Declaration of Emergency and for another 30 days after the Declaration of Emergency ends.
This sweeping exemption is unjustified and dangerous.
The government says it needs to act quickly during the pandemic, but the exemption is not limited to Ontario’s COVID-19 response plan.
Transparency, accountability and public participation in decision-making are key democratic principles that lead to better decisions. In committing to make public COVID-19 incidence and mortality projections, the premier said, “We have to be fully transparent with the people of Ontario, no matter how hard it will be.”
The same goes for decisions affecting the environment.
Join us in calling on the Government of Ontario to reinstate the full requirements of the Environmental Bill of Rights. At the very least, the exemption should be limited to decisions related to COVID-19 and end on the last day of the Declaration of Emergency.