Party Responses 2018

The next Government of Ontario will inherit a province facing many significant environmental challenges, from climate change and ongoing loss of biodiversity to a steady build up of toxics and pollutants in our air, water and land.  Strong actions will be required to address these problems and to position Ontario to benefit in a world rapidly moving toward a low-carbon future and embracing the need for more sustainable economic and social systems. We asked all parties to describe their vision for making Ontario an environmental leader and how they will enhance the quality of life of all of its residents.

Click the party name in the green bar below each question to see their responses. (Click on party name again to close response).  You can also look at the action recommendations we gave to the parties in all of these areas.

We have invited all four parties to submit any additional policies or information as the election progresses, and we will note when new information has been added.

Climate Action

 

Please describe how your party will reduce our climate impact while creating new economic opportunities in a low-carbon, clean-tech world

Specifically, how will your party:

  1. Meet Ontario’s legally binding GHG emission reduction targets
  2. Help Ontario transition to a low-carbon economy
  3. Lower transportation-related emissions
  4. Adapt our electricity system to changing technologies and take advantage of low-cost low-carbon power from Quebec
  5. Properly value and manage the immense amounts of stored carbon in Ontario’s forests and wetlands

Click on party name to see response

LiberalPCNDPGreen

Liberal Response:

Thanks to leadership from the Ontario Liberal Party, Ontario is a leader on environmental issues.  We have taken strong steps to tackle climate change, protect water and air, and reduce waste for this and future generations.  We believe that protecting the environment makes sound business sense and helps our communities thrive. 

Ontario has made great strides in fighting climate change. We have already met our 2014 target of a 6% reduction on carbon emissions, largely due to our elimination of coal-fired power plants. And we are on track to meet our ambitious, legislated carbon reduction targets for 2020, 2030 and 2050 due to our carbon market.

In 2017, we implemented a “best-in-class” cap and trade carbon pricing system, according to the Environment Commissioner, joining Quebec and California in North America’s largest carbon market as of January 1st. This system provides businesses with the flexibility to choose how they will meet the cap, whether it be through upgrading to cleaner technology or purchasing carbon allowances. Our plan guarantees reductions every year as the cap on pollution decreases, in line with our legally binding carbon reduction targets.  Third party economic experts agree our plan guarantees emission reductions at the cheapest price possible for people and the economy.

Thus far, our carbon market has raised $2.4 B in proceeds. By law, every penny of those proceeds must be re-invested into programs, through Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan, to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and help Ontario residents and businesses fight climate change and save money. These initiatives include:

  • Renovating approximately 17,500 social housing apartment building units
  • Implementing 180 projects in 98 hospitals to create energy-related savings;
  • Creating healthier, modern and more comfortable learning environments with new energy-efficient upgrades in nearly 600 schools across the province;
  • Engaging 140,000 people in Ontario who will receive home energy audits and no-cost smart thermostats;
  • Helping families and businesses save money with energy efficiency rebates through GreenON.ca, including $7,200 off insulation, $5,000 off high-performance windows, $20,000 off ground source heat pumps, $5,800 off air source heat pumps and $100 off smart thermostats;
  • Investing in GreenON Industries, a $200M program to support major carbon reduction projects for large industrial emitters and improve business competitiveness;
  • Creating the GreenON Challenge with funding of up to $300 million to encourage the development of innovative ultra-low carbon technologies and processes.

We will continue to help businesses transform their operations and create good jobs in the clean tech sector.  The Ontario Liberal Party believes fighting climate change is a major economic opportunity. The recently released Ontario Cleantech Strategy, along with investments such as the Low Carbon Innovation Fund, the Global Market Accelerator Fund, and the Cleantech Equity Fund, are helping Ontario businesses deliver and implement the next generation of clean technology solutions.

This will build a competitive advantage for Ontario, and ensure that we do not get left behind during this accelerated period of global change. Since launching their carbon markets, both California and Ontario have led their respective countries in economic growth. Meanwhile, Quebec’s unemployment recently reached a 41-year low.

The Ontario Liberal Party is also focused on reducing emissions from our transportation system using carbon market proceeds through initiatives such as:

  • Providing incentives of up to $14,000 to help Ontario residents switch to electric vehicles
  • Installing over 300 electric vehicle (EV) chargers, including over 140 level 3 fast chargers, creating the largest public fast-charging network in Canada
  • Making it easier for condo residents to charge their electric vehicles at home
  • Partnering with 118 municipalities to build bike lanes and bike parking and support new cycling plans
  • Helping the commercial transportation sector reduce its emissions through rebates for new low-carbon vehicles and fuel saving devices
  • Supporting transit fare reductions, the GO Regional Express Rail all-day, 15-minute electrified service, and Ontario’s new High Speed Rail line.

We will continue to work with key stakeholders and invest carbon market proceeds in electric vehicle rebates, cycling infrastructure, and other ways to reduce carbon emissions from transportation in the next Climate Action Plan.

Our Liberal government has made historic investments in clean energy in Ontario. This includes the complete elimination of coal generation in the province, which was accomplished in 2014 and remains the single largest climate change action undertaken in North America to date. It also virtually eliminated smog days in Ontario. In 2017, more than 95% of electricity in Ontario was generated from emissions-free sources of power.

We are committed to building on this strong record and maintaining a clean electricity grid as we continue building a system that’s ready for the challenges of tomorrow. The Market Renewal initiative, at its core, is about ensuring that the way electricity is procured in Ontario is as clean, fair, efficient, and transparent as possible. An independent benefits case for the project found the net benefits to be up to $5.2 billion over a ten-year period for Ontario’s electricity ratepayers. As part of the initiative, particular attention is being paid to how our electricity markets can value the positive environmental benefits of different generation sources.  This initiative will ensure that our grid remains clean even as we continue to improve reliability and efficiency.

Meanwhile, our government has continually taken action to maximize the use of our interties with our provincial neighbour, Quebec. In 2016, we signed an innovative new trade agreement for cross-border flows of electricity. The result of the agreement was tens of millions of dollars in ratepayer savings (as recently confirmed in a report by the independent Financial Accountability Officer), along with almost a megaton of avoided carbon emissions every year. Going forward, we continue to look for ways to take further advantage of trade with Quebec wherever it can save ratepayers money, and reduce GHG emissions in Ontario.

We also continue to invest in innovative technologies that modernize our system and help reduce environmental impacts. Between 2006 and 2015, Ontario conserved 13.5 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity, the equivalent of the electricity used by 1.5 million homes. And we are on track for our long-term target of saving 30 TWh of electricity in 2032. We are achieving these goals by improving efficiency standards in everyday products, and by investing in innovative retrofit programs that save homes and businesses money. At the same time as we make these investments in conservation, we are also improving the use of our current system through “smart grid” technologies that lead to a system which is more responsive, and more efficient.

The Ontario Liberal Party supports using natural, agricultural and forested lands in sustainable ways that enhance the removal and storage of carbon from the atmosphere. We support the development of a land use carbon inventory, forest carbon policy and investing to ensure long term soil health. We are on track to meet our commitment to plant 50 million trees by 2025, and develop and implement our carbon inventory by 2020.


PC Response:

No response received.  Doug Ford has stated that the PC Party will eliminate Ontario’s current carbon cap and trade system and will not institute any form of carbon pricing. He has not stated how his party intends to meet Ontario’s legally binding emission reduction requirements.


NDP Response:

  1. Meet Ontario’s legally binding GHG emission reduction targets

The Ontario NDP supports climate change action that is faireffective and transparent – and earns the public’s trust and support. And so we were disappointed to learn recently that the federal and provincial auditors-general had found that initiatives under Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan “were not supported by a thorough analysis or detailed plans,” and their effectiveness was not being measured. By spending cap-and-trade revenues with insufficient regard for effectiveness, the government risks needlessly undermining public support for climate change action. We will work to improve the fairness, effectiveness and transparency of Ontario’s cap-and-trade system, and will use proceeds to support effective greenhouse gas reduction initiatives backed by evidence and a solid implementation plan. We will use investments in conservation, renewable power, energy storage and transit to reduce the market for fossil fuels.  And where appropriate, particularly in sectors not covered under Ontario’s cap, we will use regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  1. Help Ontario transition to a low-carbon economy

There cannot be environmental justice without social justice. The Ontario NDP supports a just transition to a low-carbon economy, where burdens are shared fairly and no one is left behind. We will dedicate at least 25% of cap-and-trade revenues to programs that support disproportionately-burdened communities and families, including people living in rural, northern or low-income households. We will also support workers in trade-exposed industries, to avoid carbon leakage and ensure a just transition where livelihoods are at stake.

We will dedicate $50 million in cap-and-trade revenues to seed the creation of a new no-interest/on-bill home-efficiency retrofit program, allowing residents to install energy-conserving technologies and equipment in their home. We will target the program to communities and individuals facing the greatest financial barriers to lowering their energy use

NDP MPPs like Peter Tabuns have also put important new ideas like climate liability and carbon budgeting on the public agenda.

  1. Lower transportation-related emissions

One of the most effective ways of reducing emissions from transportation is to support land use policies that reduce the length of commutes, and provide convenient and affordable alternatives to gasoline-powered cars. The Ontario NDP supports growth plan and Greenbelt policies that curb sprawl and protect natural heritage while encouraging walkable and transit-friendly “complete communities” that have sufficient density to put people close to the jobs and amenities they demand. We will continue making investments in transit and regional rail, including expansions of the GO rail network and funding for priority rapid transit projects like Toronto’s Relief Line subway. We will work with municipalities and stakeholders to develop active transportation plans to increase the percentage of trips by foot or bicycle, with funding for pedestrian and cycling infrastructure that is safe for people of all ages and abilities. We will introduce a Vulnerable Road User’s law to reduce road violence and increase road safety for cyclists and pedestrians. We will also support the continued adoption of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.

  1. Adapt our electricity system to changing technologies and take advantage of low-cost low-carbon power from Quebec

Ontario’s new Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP) acknowledged the potential of new technologies that could revolutionize how energy is delivered and consumed, such as distributed electricity resources, demand response systems and electricity storage. However, for the most part, the LTEP simply reaffirmed old, lobbyist-driven energy strategies based on centralized, often privatized, inflexible, costly and risky megaprojects with a notorious history of driving up hydro bills. The Ontario NDP will restore fact-based, energy planning that is based on independent cost/benefit/risk analyses, not backroom politics and private interests. Renewables such as solar, water, and wind will be at the heart of the electricity system and we will integrate them responsibly into the grid as needs grow. We will respect local decision-making and ensure that local communities have a stake in the benefits that come from low-cost, zero-emission renewables. We will ensure that all options are explored in our evidence-based energy plans, including imports from Quebec, to avoid needlessly locking Ontario ratepayers for decades into costly and risky megaprojects. We will also move Ontario back towards a public hydro system, starting by bringing Hydro One back under public ownership and control. The NDP’s hydro plan will not only get private profits off hydro bills and lower hydro costs by 30%, it will restore the government’s ability to connect Ontarians to green energy affordably and responsibly, and put the public interest first.

  1. Properly value and manage the immense amounts of stored carbon in Ontario’s forests and wetlands

Provincially-significant wetlands continue to get paved over, despite laws and policies to prevent this. The government simply has not enforced its own rules to protect natural heritage, and has stood aside as private interests seek ways to bypass these rules.  An Ontario NDP government will finally stop the loss of provincially-significant wetlands, and reverse it.


Green Response:

The GPO’s plan is to leap into the future now to create good jobs in the clean economy while putting Ontario on a pathway to be carbon neutral by 2050.

Our plan starts by moving forward with a predictable, steadily increasing price on GHG pollution that will be set at a high enough level to change people and business behaviour. Money collected from a carbon fee will be distributed directly to individuals and households as a dividend cheque to help people afford to invest in low carbon solutions that work for them. Our plan is especially designed to support people with modest and middle incomes in adjusting to the rising cost of fossil fuels, fostering a just transition to a low carbon economy.

The GPO climate plan prioritizes action in those sectors with the highest GHG emissions: transportation, buildings, and industry. Our plan also seeks to maximize nature’s carbon storing ability, and to help communities adapt to our changing climate.

In order to meet Ontario’s legally binding GHG emission reduction targets, the Green Party of Ontario will:

  • Establish more ambitious GHG reduction targets for Ontario. Our goal is for the province to be carbon neutral by 2050 instead of the current target to reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050. We support the province establishing 5 year targets between now and 2050 to measure progress toward the target of being carbon neutral by 2050.
  • Transition Ontario to a revenue-neutral carbon fee-and-dividend system. Under this approach, a fee is levied at source on all goods and services that result in greenhouse gas pollution. We propose a steadily increasing carbon price at a level that exceeds the federal government’s minimum price. We would not immediately cancel the current cap and trade program, instead supporting a transitional period to carbon fee and dividend.
  • Return all pollution tax revenue to citizens’ bank accounts. The more you conserve the more cash you and your family can save.
  • Transition Ontario budget expenditures away from infrastructure, products and services that are fossil fuel dependent to expenditures for low carbon infrastructure, products and services. This would result in expenditures on programs to reduce GHG pollution that exceed those currently funded by cap and trade revenue and would eliminate expenditures that undermine and contradict Ontario’s climate change plan and GHG reduction targets.
  • Pass liability laws to give Ontarians the legal means to seek compensation from the world’s major polluters for their fair share of the costs associated with the climate crisis.

To help Ontario transition to a low-carbon economy, we will:

  • Invest over $1 billion per year to support a Green Building Program to create jobs while helping homeowners, renters and businesses save money by reducing their energy use. Provide incentives to help homeowners, renters and businesses convert natural gas, electric, oil, and propane heating systems to more efficient, affordable and low carbon sources such as heat pumps and geothermal.
  • Redirect existing business support programs to target the scale up of cleantech companies and innovation. Change the funding criteria for business development programs to eliminate supports for proposals that contribute to an increase in Ontario’s greenhouse gas pollution.
  • Reorient business development grants to provide funding incentives for businesses to innovate and invest in low carbon equipment, products, and processes (see Jobs section for more information on how Ontario businesses and workers will benefit from the low carbon economy).
  • Accelerate the targets for net zero buildings and revise the Ontario Building Code to mandate that all new buildings meet net zero standards.
  • Implement incentives for businesses that participate in training and certification programs in job growth areas such as green building, biomedical technology, renewable energy and sustainable transportation.
  • Review government regulations to ensure the regulatory environment does not create barriers to the adoption of green technologies, practices and businesses.
  • Support public funding of research and development in order to incubate innovation, particularly in clean technology and knowledge services.
  • Provide incentives to commercialize new clean economy products.
  • Create investment tools, such as Community Bonds for local clean tech innovators that are RRSP and TFSA eligible.
  • Establish provincial government procurement rules to support made in Ontario cleantech products to facilitate commercialization of Ontario innovation.
  • Conduct a census of vulnerable jobs and economic sectors in the transition to a low carbon, clean economy in order to develop strategies to help those workers and businesses successfully transition to the new economy.
  • Develop a strategy to ensure that the transition to a low carbon, clean economy benefits workers through retraining, living wages, benefits plans and career opportunities.
  • Implement border adjustments for carbon pricing to create an even playing field for energy-intensive, trade-exposed industries and their workers.
  • Establish an Ontario Youth Green Corps to provide summer job experience and foster a culture of stewardship and enterprise in the next generation of young Ontarians, helping young people learn job skills, introducing them to rewarding careers in trades, and fostering leadership.
  • Provide support for young entrepreneurs to start green businesses through online entrepreneurial courses, business modelling workshops and start up capital.
  • Implement a Well-being Measurements Act to identify indicators of the economic, social and environmental well-being of people, communities and ecosystems in Ontario.
  • Continuously update the provincial soil database to better track and protect the province’s prime farmland, a critically important source of carbon sequestration.
  • Provide startup grants for Northern Ontario and First Nations communities to initiate and create their own renewable projects, build water purification systems and grow food year round in their communities.
  • Give incentives for the production of renewable natural gas from organic waste and other renewable sources such as ammonia to be transported in existing natural gas pipelines and used to power government fleet vehicles like garbage trucks and public buses. This will reduce reliance on piped, fracked or shipped natural gas.
  • Establish low-carbon content requirements for natural gas distribution.

To lower transportation-related emissions, we will:

  • Set a target date for phasing out internal combustion engines in Ontario so that Ontario can meet a carbon neutral target by 2050. As an interim measure, raise the average fuel economy emission standards for all cars and trucks to encourage the market for more fuel efficient and less polluting vehicles.
  • Support fleet electrification with funding for the public and private sector to purchase electric vehicles, install charging facilities and share their implementation know-how with each other to make Ontario the leading electric vehicle jurisdiction in the world.
  • o   Support the purchase of electric vehicles through a rebate program for purchasing electric vehicles with a cap on the vehicle purchase price at $50,000, eliminating HST on zero emission vehicles, and providing free overnight vehicle charging for residential customers.
  • Encourage the development of supportive infrastructure for electric vehicles across the province by moving towards installing charging stations at all public buildings, ensuring municipalities identify and remove barriers to their adoption, fund charging stations, and requiring condominiums to provide facilities that allow residents  to plug in electric vehicles.
  • Support rapid electrification plans for all transit systems.
  • Increase funding for public transit infrastructure and transit operations while using market mechanisms such as road pricing and parking levies that create incentives for people to drive less as a way of paying for transit investments.
  • Support strategies to ensure the growth of sustainable, efficient, and safe freight movement in cities. With the adoption of electric and self-driving trucks the landscape is changing drastically. We must ensure that the transition is safe, clean and leads to a new and dynamic use of our roadways.
  • Fund initiatives designed to take older, less efficient diesel trucks off the road.
  • Coordinate freight data collection and make this available to municipalities to support policymaking.
  • Establish a sustainable goods movement strategy.
  • Create provincial programs that provide education and incentives for businesses and municipalities to implement sustainable freight pilot projects (e.g., off-peak delivery programs, cargo bike and e-bike pilots).
  • Use low GHG fuels like renewable fuel alternatives to replace diesel for municipal fleets, such as garbage trucks and buses. Create incentives for EV fleets and bicycle delivery.
  • Provide incentives for businesses and organizations to encourage telecommuting.
  • Dedicate 5% of the transportation infrastructure budget for walking and cycling infrastructure.

We need to adapt our electricity system to changing technologies and take advantage of low-cost, low-carbon power from Quebec. The Green Party of Ontario will:

  • Conduct an independent review of costs, benefits and alternatives of all forms of electricity generation including the costs of building infrastructure and dealing with waste products, and make the results public.
  • Set a target and develop a Long-term Energy Plan for Ontario to be powered with 100% renewable energy, which includes a plan for an energy supply mix that enables Ontario to achieve its greenhouse gas targets and create local jobs.
  • Close the Pickering nuclear plant on schedule in 2018. Cancel the rebuild of the Darlington nuclear station and replace its power with low cost water power from neighbouring provinces.
  • Work with local communities, provide incentives for small renewable energy projects (wind, solar, heating, storage, electric mobility, and micro-hydro), to reduce overall demand and increase local energy security and community benefits.
  • Provide community-based renewable energy projects, initiated by non-profit groups, cooperatives and municipalities, with reliable know-how and long-term zero interest loans.
  • Support renewable energy projects initiated by Indigenous communities and ensure meaningful Indigenous participation in the development of renewable energy projects.
  • Invest in smart grid solutions and expand electricity storage capacity.
  • Support the development of community energy plans.

To properly value and manage the immense amounts of stored carbon in Ontario’s forests and wetlands, the Green Party of Ontario will:

  • Support Forest Ontario’s tree planting goals and expand the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program to reward landowners for planting trees.
  • Reward sustainable forestry and land management practices that protect the Boreal forest with an emphasis on maximizing the forest’s ability to store carbon.
  • Reverse the government’s decision to close the Ontario Tree Seed Plant.
  • Develop policy on forest carbon management and/or carbon offset projects for the forestry sector while exploring the potential benefits with Indigenous peoples.
  • Create incentives to reward landowners for increasing the organic content of their soil and for sequestering carbon. Support research to improve soil health, including developing accurate and consistent quantification methods.
  •  Implement stronger protections for wetlands, grasslands and woodlots.
  • Reward farmers for stewardship practices that provide environmental and community benefits such as clean water, habitat preservation, soil health and carbon storage.
  • Recognize and address the importance of protecting the vast intact carbon storehouse of Ontario’s Far North in land-use plans for the region.
  • Ensure that green infrastructure projects, such as urban forests, qualify for provincial infrastructure funding.

 

Protecting Nature

 

Please describe how your party will take better care of the natural world that takes care of us.

Specifically, how will your party:

  1. Meet the Aichi targets agreed to by Canada and Ontario, which require protection of at least 17% of Ontario’s lands and waters
  2. Better protect wetlands
  3. Dramatically reduce use of neonicotinoids in agriculture
  4. Reduce emissions of carcinogens and toxics to air and water
  5. Reduce nutrient discharges to lakes and waterways
  6. Increase the use of living green infrastructure and meet onsite stormwater retention targets
  7. Respect the principles of the Endangered Species Act and reverse actions that have steadily undermined its effectiveness and the protection of species at risk.

Click on party name to see response

LiberalPCNDPGreen


Liberal Response:

The Ontario Liberal Party believes that our natural world sustains us – our businesses, communities and quality of life.

As an active participant in Canada’s Pathway initiative, Ontario supports the federal government’s commitment to protect 17 per cent of Canada’s terrestrial lands and inland waters by 2020. We look forward to receiving the recommendations that come out of the Pathway work, including how Ontario could contribute toward both the quantitative and qualitative elements of Canada Target 1. In the interim, our government continues to collaborate with representatives from all levels of government, Indigenous groups and others to protect and conserve areas throughout the province.

We will be providing $15 million over three years to agencies, land trusts and individual land stewards to help conserve biodiversity in settled areas.  Moreover, we will continue to collaborate with First Nations on Community-Based Land Use Plans which include identifying new dedicated protected areas in the Far North of Ontario. In 2017, we added nearly 2,600 hectares to provincial parks and conservation reserves – this includes a new nature reserve class park that ensures a provincially significant wetland is protected.

In July 2017, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry released A Wetland Conservation Strategy for Ontario, 2017-2030, which outlines strategic directions, goals and desired outcomes for wetlands in Ontario and establishes actions the our government will undertake by 2030 to improve wetland conservation across the province. Priority actions highlighted in the strategy include improving Ontario’s wetland inventory and mapping, developing policy approaches and tools to prevent net loss of wetlands, and improving guidance for evaluating the significance of wetlands. Moreover, the strategy includes two overarching targets on which success can be measured. These targets include:

  1. By 2025, the net loss of wetland area and function is halted where wetland loss has been the greatest.
  2. By 2030, a net gain in wetland area and function is achieved where wetland loss has been the greatest.

The strategy also commits to developing performance measures and reporting to the public on progress in implementing the actions, as well as progress towards achieving the targets every five years beginning in 2020.  The strategy will help Ontario to coordinate and implement a comprehensive wetland conservation framework that can inform further policy and program development, encourage enhanced cooperation at all levels of government and support strategic partnerships.

As part of the early work to achieve the goals outlined in the strategy, in 2018 our government invested $1.9 million in the restoration of wetlands in Southern Ontario. Additionally, the government’s recently announced Land Securement Initiative, which will provide $15 million over the next 3 years to land conservancy groups for the acquisition and conservation of ecologically significant lands in the province, will also help to further protect wetlands and ensure that the important ecosystem services they provide are available now and in the future.

We know how vitally important it is to reduce pesticides and protect bees and other pollinators to ensure protection of our agricultural sector, our economy, and our environment.  In fact, Ontario was among the first jurisdictions in North America to implement a cosmetic pesticide ban on lawns, that has reduced pesticides in our environment.  Ontario was the first to regulate neonicotinoid treated seeds – with a target reduction of 80%. We’re also one of the few provinces in Canada to review and regulate pesticides, requiring additional training and licensing. In 2016, we developed a Pollinator Health Action Plan that addresses stressors impacting pollinator health, including exposure to pesticides, disease and pests, reduced habitat and climate change.

We created new rules limiting the sale and use of neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds as the first step to restoring pollinator health. We have a mandatory training program for anyone buying neonicotinoid treated seeds. We have achieved a reduction of pesticide use of over one million acres.

We have invested in an extensive environmental monitoring program for pesticides including neonicotinoids, so that we have the most current science to understand impacts and how we could make further reductions. We have worked with the farming community to ensure that neonicotinoids are only used if there is a pressing need. 

We know that we can’t stand idly by. The Ontario Liberal Party is committed to continuing to reduce pesticides, improve bee and pollinator health to protect the health of Ontarians and our environment.

Going forward the Ontario Liberal Party will invest in programs to reduce pesticides by new soil health programs so that fewer pesticides are needed, implement our pollinator health action plan, evaluate progress under our pesticide programs, invest in environmental monitoring to understand pesticide impacts, increase outreach on the need to reduce pesticides at farm and trade shows and work with the farming and environmental communities to ensure further pesticide reductions.

The Ontario Liberal Party supports the reduction of toxics to protect human health and the environment. We have done this by strengthening standards, requiring business to publicly report on their emissions and informing Ontarians about toxics in their communities. Our air quality in Ontario is improving.

We also support working with industry, communities and other stakeholders through policies, programs and education to develop more ways to enhance disclosure and keep toxic substances out of our environment.

Please see also related answers to 3.2 and 3.3

Working with partners, Ontario has committed to the goal of 40% reduction in phosphorus to Lake Erie by 2025. We have also worked to reduce nutrients from farms though Nutrient Management Act, and proposed new wastewater emission limits for Lake Erie.  We passed the Lake Simcoe Protection Act, one of the first watershed based plans, that is helping to reduce phosphorus loads and keep Lake Simcoe healthy.  We have worked with the federal and municipal governments to increase the use of green infrastructure in our infrastructure plans and investments.  We have worked with conservation authorities and other partners to improve stormwater management, and proposed new stormwater targets. Our Long Term Infrastructure Plan commits to promoting Green Infrastructure.

We have also committed $52 million to help protect the Great Lakes, including:

  • Invest in new technologies to address excessive algae, toxic chemicals, microplastics and road salt, and enhance real-time monitoring and research around the Great Lakes, with a primary focus on Lake Erie;
  • Better manage the impacts of population growth and development around Lake Ontario through the continuation of efforts to develop operational plans to help reduce pollution from combined sewer system overflows, and certification requirements and improved training for sewage plant operators;
  • Protect the health of Lake Erie by implementing the Canada–Ontario Lake Erie Action Plan. Working with all partners, the Province will support reductions of phosphorus loads from agricultural sources and support municipal wastewater and storm water management; and
  • Increase engagement with First Nation and Métis communities to create opportunities for engagement and relationship building through a shared desire to protect and restore the ecological health of the Great Lakes system.

Our government’s Endangered Species Act (ESA) is recognized as a North American leader, providing protection for more than 150 species. The ESA has played a key role in the recovery of species like peregrine falcon and piping plover, and the protection of many other species like bobolink, eastern meadowlark and chimney swift.

The ESA ensures transparency and accountability as well as promoting engagement and consultation and includes strong enforcement provisions. 

We are continuing to implement is the Species at Risk Stewardship Program – this is part of our obligation under the ESA to promote stewardship activities to assist in protection and recovery of species at risk. This year marks the completion of the 10th anniversary. 

The program has supported 868 stewardship projects and 100 research projects, and helped restore 33,500 hectares of habitat. It has also led to the creation of 2,600 jobs and over 773,000 hours of volunteer work. This year, we are investing nearly $4.5 million in 68 new stewardship and research projects, and continued work in 37 projects already underway. The funding will be used for activities like creating or rehabilitating habitat, educating youth about species at risk, and gathering Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge.

 


PC Response:

No response.  PC Leader Doug Ford says he would move quickly to build roads to facilitate mining in the Ring of Fire. He says consultations with First Nations must be accelerated and economic benefits should take priority.


NDP Response:

  1. Meet the Aichi targets agreed to by Canada and Ontario, which require protection of at least 17% of Ontario’s lands and waters

The Ontario NDP will protect more of Ontario’s wild spaces, including an expansion of Ontario’s parks system, in consultation with First Nations

  1. Better protect wetlands

The Ontario NDP will stop landowners from exploiting loopholes that allow developments on provincially-significant wetlands, in contravention of updated laws and policies to protect natural heritage

  1. Dramatically reduce use of neonicotinoids in agriculture

The Ontario NDP will work in partnership with farmers, pest management experts and seed companies to reduce and eliminate needless use of neonicotinoids

  1. Reduce emissions of carcinogens and toxics to air and water

The Ontario NDP will set achievable but aggressive targets to reduce air and water pollution across the province. We will move ahead with health studies of the cumulative impacts of pollution in “hot spots” like south Sarnia/Aamjiwnaang First Nation and Hamilton, strengthen monitoring to include additional pollutants, and regulate cumulative pollution in “hot spots” with appropriate site-specific policies. We will also work with emitters to ensure they comply with existing standards and requirements, and hold them accountable when they don’t.

We will clean up the mercury in the English-Wabigoon River system, so people in Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong First Nations can finally once again drink the water and eat the fish their communities have relied on for generations. And we will fund a dedicated mercury treatment centre so they can get the care they need after decades of mercury poisoning. We will maintain the commitment to index the Mercury Disability Fund, and commit an additional $12 million to make retroactive payments to people suffering because of the provincial government’s inaction

  1. Reduce nutrient discharges to lakes and waterways

We will set measurable targets for reducing nutrient discharges, and follow-through on existing targets to stop algae blooms in Lake Erie, with adequate funding to achieve the necessary results.

  1. Increase the use of living green infrastructure and meet onsite stormwater retention targets

After years of dithering and delays, Ontario needs a Climate Change Adaptation Plan more than ever. The Ontario NDP will deliver this plan, including strategies to build green infrastructure and manage severe storm events, with the necessary funding

  1. Respect the principles of the Endangered Species Act and reverse actions that have steadily undermined its effectiveness and the protection of species at risk.

After years of cuts under the euphemism of “transformation,” Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry now lacks the ability to adequately protect Ontario’s endangered species. The Ontario NDP will ensure that MNRF has the funding and resources to do the job.


Green Response:

In order to meet the Aichi targets agreed to by Canada and Ontario, which require protection of at least 17% of Ontario’s lands and waters, the Green Party of Ontario supports:

  • Setting aside a minimum of 17% of the land base in protected areas according to the internationally agreed upon Aichi biodiversity targets.
  • Establishing a rigorous provincial biodiversity monitoring and reporting program as an early warning system of species loss. This would include information on Ontario’s wildlife, including population trends and habitat quality, so that we can monitor the province’s biodiversity to identify and mitigate decline.
  • Creating an inventory and designating provincially significant wetlands and grasslands on an ongoing basis, and requiring that they be protected in municipal official plans within one year of their designation as such.
  • Providing incentives for pollinator-friendly farming practices and invest in research about the economic value of wild pollinators for farmers and their crops.
  • Establishing an independent science advisory body on wild native pollinators to ensure that the best available science informs implementation and evaluation of the government’s Pollinator Health Action Plan.
  • Banning logging and other resource extraction in all provincial parks where ecological integrity is threatened, including Algonquin Park which remains open to logging in 65% of its area.
  • Establishing and expanding safe harbour protections to support and financially reward good stewards of our land. This would compensate farmers and residential landowners for the public good they provide in protecting endangered species and at-risk ecosystems on their property.

To better protect wetlands, the Green Party of Ontario will:

  • Create an inventory and designating provincially significant wetlands and grasslands on an ongoing basis, and requiring that they be protected in municipal official plans within one year of their designation as such.
  • Prohibit further development on provincially significant wetlands.

To dramatically reduce the use of neonicotinoids in agriculture, the Green Party of Ontario will:

  • Protect local food supplies with a complete ban on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides. Experts agree that these are killing off bee populations, a key pollinator in the food chain, and threatening our food system by building up toxin levels in our groundwater.
  • Provide incentives for pollinator-friendly farming practices and invest in research about the economic value of wild pollinators for farmers and their crops.
  • Establish an independent science advisory body on wild native pollinators to ensure that the best available science informs implementation and evaluation of the government’s Pollinator Health Action Plan.

To reduce emissions of carcinogens and toxics in air and water, the Green Party of Ontario will:

  • Hold the province to its commitment to resolve and clean up the mercury contamination in the English-Wabigoon River system, which has been poisoning the people of Grassy Narrows First Nation and White Dog First Nation.
  • Address environmental racism by explicitly recognizing in the environmental protection processes that low-income, Indigenous and other communities are disproportionately impacted by pollution and environmental damage. Mercury poisoning near Grassy Narrows and air pollution near Aamjiwnaang in southwestern Ontario are just two examples of this.
  • Resolve the air pollution problems plaguing the Aamjiwnaang First Nation in Sarnia as a result of toxic emissions from Chemical Valley.
  • Require an assessment of cumulative impacts of all sources of air pollution before issuing new air emission permits.
  • Improve the public’s right to know about toxins by publishing a registry of air toxins in communities, require full ingredient disclosure on product labelling and full disclosure of chemical use by dry cleaners.

To reduce nutrient discharges to lakes and waterways, the Green Party of Ontario will:

  • Make polluters pay for cleaning up contaminated groundwater by giving the government the power to immediately contain or clean up spills or runoff that threaten aquifers, and pursue remedies through the justice system.
  • Require major municipalities to eliminate combined sewer overflows and sewage bypasses which discharge raw sewage into waterways during high volumes of flow.
  • Establish binding standards that limit phosphorus emissions to water for sewer treatment plant effluent.
  • Provide incentives and assistance for farmers to use less fertilizer and to better control farm field runoff.
  • Develop a provincial plan to reduce road salt use by 50% on roads, sidewalks and parking areas.
  • Place an immediate and indefinite ban on fracking to prioritize drinking water, public health, and climate stability.
  • Invest in the monitoring and protection of the Great Lakes, including long-term funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and other programs protecting the lakes.
  • Create an action plan to fight algae in Lake Erie and to clean all Ontario lakes.

To increase the use of living green infrastructure and meet onsite stormwater retention targets, the Green Party of Ontario will:

  • Change the definition of public infrastructure to incorporate green infrastructure, and capture opportunities to incorporate green infrastructure into existing legislation, policy and programs.
  • Create a dedicated funding stream for green infrastructure within existing infrastructure funding.
  • Ensure that green infrastructure projects, such as urban forests, qualify for provincial infrastructure funding.
  • Fund municipal efforts to proactively manage green infrastructure as assets through research and sharing of best practices.
  • Treat stormwater and sewage on-site or early in the system wherever possible using integrative approaches including UV light, wet ponds, infiltration systems and low impact development (LID) to minimize or eliminate untreated stormwater in our waterways.

We respect the principles of the Endangered Species Act and will reverse actions that have steadily undermined its effectiveness and the protection of species at risk. We support:

  • Reforming the Endangered Species Act to remove exemptions that protect companies from facing penalties for harming animals and their habitats.
  • Reversing the government’s decisions to create loopholes in the endangered species act that allow industry to harm and kill endangered species.
  • Increasing oversight for industry development that affects our land, water, and wildlife.

 

Healthy Communities

 

Please describe how your party will help people live healthier lives in active, connected communities

Specifically, how will your party:

  • Dramatically reduce pesticide use
  • Assess the cumulative impacts of multiple pollution sources on air, water and communities
  • Require full disclosure of toxic ingredients in consumer products
  • Expand and enhance transit
  • Extend and enhance Active Transportation options such as walking and biking
  • Move away from further development of destructive 400 series highways
  • Expand recycling and organic waste programs and fully extend producer responsibility for waste
  • Clean-up contaminated sites

Click on party name to see response

LiberalPCNDPGreen

Liberal Response:

The Ontario Liberal Party believes that protecting our environment is the bedrock for sustainable communities and a high quality of life.

See answers in previous sections as well.

The Ontario Liberal Party supports the assessment of cumulative impacts of multiple sources of pollution, as it helps protect our health, environment and communities. We have released 69 new or updated science-based air quality standards since 2005. This action, along with our Drive Clean program and closing our dirty coal plants has helped to dramatically improve air quality across Ontario, virtually eliminating smog days in the province. Over the last ten years concentrations of air contaminants have dropped significantly: nitrogen dioxide by 30%, sulphur dioxide by 51%, and fine particulate matter by 12%.

We know more work can be done in heavily industrialized areas. This is why we recently phased in a tough new benzene standard. The implementation of the Petroleum Refining and Petrochemical Technical Standards requires industry to reduce significant sources of benzene by investing in best available technology.

We finalized our updated sulphur dioxide air standards and clarified reporting rules around acid gas flaring and other start-up and shutdown scenarios. These improvements will help further drive reductions in pollution in the Sarnia area. We have also working closely with local communities, including the Aamjiwnaang First Nation, to ensure a health study and related health initiatives are underway.

We have also developed a first-step and targeted cumulative impacts assessment policy for benzene and benzo(a)pyrene for Hamilton and Sarnia. We have committed to review the policy and work closely with the multi-stakeholder working group, including ENGOs, Industry, First Nations and Health groups) to look at expanding the policy to cover other contaminants, regions, and data sources.

The Ontario Liberal Party supports taking action to reduce toxics. We have reduced toxics through strengthening almost one hundred air and water quality standards. We have shut coal plants to reduce our pollutants and help our health and environment. We have required industry to report on the toxics they emit and have made this information publically available. We are committed to further increasing transparency and reducing toxics.

The Ontario Liberal Party is committed to developing enhanced transit infrastructure, with an historic investment of $79 billion over the next 10 years.

We will make it easier for commuters and families to get around the GTHA by moving forwards with the implementation of GO RER, the largest rail project in Canada. We will quadruple the number of weekly trips from about 1,500 to nearly 6,000 by 2024-25. We are building new stations and enhancing existing stations including the Kipling Bus Terminal, Mimico Station, Rutherford GO station and the Milton GO Station, and are advancing the development of twelve new stations (including six SmartTrack stations). We will deliver two-way, all-day GO train service between Toronto and Waterloo, weekday GO service to Niagara Falls, and an extension to GO Transit’s Lake Share East rail corridor to Bowmanville.

We are investing in multiple rapid transit projects, including the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, Finch West LRT, Hamilton LRT, Hurontario LRT, the Scarborough subway extension, the Mississauga Transitway, the London BRT System, Ottawa’s LRT, Waterloo’s ION Rapid Transit, and the Line 1 Extension/Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension.

We have also committed to providing the Province’s share of funding for new projects such as the Toronto Relief Line Subway, the Yonge North Subway Extension, Toronto’s Waterfront Transit Network, Durham BRT, and rapid transit in Mississauga and Brampton.

In addition, the Province is proceeding with an initial investment of over $11 billion to build Canada’s first high-speed rail line between Toronto and Windsor. Beginning with service from Toronto to London, high speed rail will cut travel times, reduce congestion on our highways, fight climate change, and create new opportunities for workers, businesses and families.

Our recent commitment to reducing the cost of transit in the GTHA by furthering the integration of fares across multiple transit service providers will save people money, increase transit ridership and reduce congestion on our roads. All GO Transit rides within Toronto will cost PRESTO card users just $3, any trip under 10km anywhere on the GO network will cost just $3, and $1.50 per trip discounts will be introduced for transit users who transfer between the TTC and the GO network, York Region Transit, Mississauga’s MiWay, Brampton Transit or Durham Region Transit.

We are also committed to enhancing active transportation options. Building on an initial investment of $94M, which supported 118 municipalities to build bike lanes and bike parking, we have committed $140M more in carbon market proceeds to continue this progress as well as invest in “first mile / last mile” transit solutions to make it easier for people to get to and from transit stations.

We have made investments in highways where it makes sense — investing $2.5 billion across the province in 2017/18 to repair and expand highways. However, we recognize that we can’t continue on a path of doing things the way they’ve always been done. That is why Budget 2018 commits $79 billion for transit over 14 years –three times more than our commitment to highway infrastructure. 

The Ontario Liberal Party knows that reducing waste and reusing our resources is a critical part of achieving our goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protecting our land and environment, and creating a greener future for Ontarians.

The Ontario Liberal Party is proud of the changes we have made in passing the groundbreaking Waste Free Ontario Act. This Act uses a full producer responsibility model as the cornerstone of our actions on waste.

The Ontario Liberal Party is committed to continuing to transform the way we address waste in Ontario.  We have started moving Ontario towards a circular economy and we support expanding recycling and organic waste programs. Creating a “circular economy” means we’re moving beyond the linear “make, use, dispose” model – to a new model where we make productive use of materials for as long as possible. This past fall, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario stated that the successful passage of the Waste-Free Ontario Act was a significant achievement.

Building on these efforts, the brand new Food and Organic Waste Framework, outlines our path forward for reducing food waste and increasing the recovery of organic materials in Ontario. Our organics framework would lead to improvements in waste processing infrastructure through better planning, coordination and decision-making processes for environmental and land use approvals.

The framework also has the potential to create thousands of new jobs in Ontario and establish us as a world leader in organic waste and its positive spin offs such as renewable natural gas. This is another step in moving Ontario towards a circular economy.

The Ontario Liberal Party supports the identification and cleanup of contaminated sites in Ontario. We will create a common set of criteria among Ministries to evaluate contaminated sites. Wherever possible, the cleanup of contaminated sites needs to work towards the “polluter pays principle” to ensure that those responsible for the pollution are held accountable for the cleanup.


PC Response:

No response.

In a video released to media, Doug Ford assured major developers that he would “open a big chunk” of the Greenbelt to new housing if elected while running to be PC leader.  Later Ford said that any lands removed from the Greenbelt would be replaced with lands somewhere else.  Following this he stated that a PC government would not remove lands from the Greenbelt and would leave it intact.

In the media, Doug Ford has said he will ensure a three-stop subway is built in Scarborough.  He will leave it to Hamilton City Council to decide whether to proceed with an LRT or spend provincial funding for the project on other things, such as roads. He says he would “review the plan” to extend GO Train service to Niagara.

Ford says he will close the Sheppard Ave subway loop to the Scarborough Town Centre, build a downtown relief line and extend the Yonge TTC line north to Richmond Hill. He has not outlined how he will fund these projects. He has also committed to two-way, all-day GO Train service to Bowmanville, Niagara and Kitchener 

Ford says he is not committed to repealing or modifying the Places to Grow Act, but does believe local governments should have a larger say in development decisions.


NDP Response:

See answers to Questions 1 & 2


Green Response:

We will reduce pesticide use by:

  • Passing the Organic Products Act, which would establish a standard definition for Organic, so that any producer’s use of the term can be backed up by third-party certification that they use sound organic practices that protect our water and soil.
  • Implementing a long-term Organic Growth Strategy that will support transition, small-scale certification, access to organic advisors and capital, and organic research and promotion expansion. Establish an organic check-off program to provide marketing support for organic farmers.

To assess the cumulative impacts of multiple pollution sources on air, water and communities, we will:

  • Establish rules that consider the externalized costs of water taking activities such as ecosystem needs, cumulative impacts, pollution, waste, contamination threats, etc. when making water use decisions.
  • Ensure that water use decisions incorporate sources of knowledge such as cumulative impacts, community values, citizen science and traditional knowledge.
  • Require an assessment of cumulative impacts of all sources of air pollution before issuing new air emission permits.

To support the requirement of the full disclosure of toxic ingredients in consumer products, we will:

  • Empower local decision-making and increase public awareness by instating community right-to-know toxics laws and supporting research on the impact of chemicals present in Ontario on environmental health.
  • Mandate a deposit and take-back program of toxic materials by making it convenient, standardized and well publicized.

We will expand and enhance transit by:

  • Establishing transparent, expert-recognized standard methods for making transit investment decisions and publicly share business case analyses and all associated assumptions and data.
  • Studying best practices to better coordinate transit systems between municipalities, including establishing regional authorities.
  • Harmonizing regional transit into a single pay user system.
  • Ensuring urban rapid transit projects feature effective integration with local transit services.
  • Requiring urban rapid transit projects to plan for density around each subway/LRT stop, such as retail stores and residential buildings, instead of parking lots.
  • Prioritizing low-cost high-performance rail in the short-term as the province plans long-term for higher-cost, high-speed rail projects.
  • Providing permanent operational funding support for municipal transit services in order to reduce fare increases for users, as well as funding for cycling and walking infrastructure.
  • Working with rural municipalities to explore the feasibility of licensed private local transit services in low density communities where public transit service is not available.
  • Restoring passenger rail service in the north as critical core infrastructure for the entire economy of Northern Ontario.
  • Immediately improving intercity bus services, especially in underserved areas.
  • Electrifying GO train services as quickly as possible, and replace bus service with electric and hybrid buses where feasible.
  • Increasing the number of people accessing GO stations without private automobiles by providing safe and convenient pedestrian access, providing improved cycling facilities and bikeshare stations, and facilitating car-pooling.
  • Exploring all public and private options for regional train services in underserviced areas.
  • Establishing a Complete Streets Act, which would require streets across Ontario to be planned, designed, operated, and maintained to enable safe, convenient and comfortable travel and access for users of all ages and abilities, regardless of their mode of transportation.
  • Requiring all new and resurfaced highways to have paved shoulders for safe cycling.
  • Establishing commuter cycling networks across Ontario.
  • Allowing municipalities to implement road tolls, including granting Toronto’s request for road tolls on the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Expressway (two of the highways that Premier Mike Harris downloaded to Toronto twenty years ago).
  • Implementing dedicated revenue tools to fund our updated transportation systems that are fair and progressive, such as congestion charges, gas taxes and parking levies. For example, a $2 per day parking surcharge on all commercial parking lots in the Greater Toronto area would raise $2 billion per year for transit in the region.

To extend and enhance Active Transportation options such as walking and biking, we will:

  • Establish a Complete Streets Act, which would require streets across Ontario to be planned, designed, operated, and maintained to enable safe, convenient and comfortable travel and access for users of all ages and abilities, regardless of their mode of transportation.
  • Require all new and resurfaced highways to have paved shoulders for safe cycling. Establish commuter cycling networks across Ontario.
  • Establish a permanent long-term sustainable funding stream for cycling and pedestrian infrastructure for all Ontario municipalities.
  • Dedicate 5% of the transportation infrastructure budget for walking and cycling infrastructure.
  • Provide incentives for transit users, carpooling ride shares, and employers who provide opportunities for workers to work from home. This can reduce road congestion, air pollution and increase productivity of employees.

To move away from further development of destructive 400 series highways, we will:

  • Freeze urban boundaries now to stop urban sprawl and protect farming, water and natural heritage in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
  • Prioritize public transit over the expansion of 400 series highways.

We need to expand recycling and organic waste programs and fully extend producer responsibility for waste. We will:

  • Establish Individual Producer Responsibility regulations under the Waste-Free Ontario Act so that companies, not taxpayers, are responsible for the cost of disposing and recycling the products, packages and waste they produce.
  • Reinstate the deposit and return system for all single use plastic containers, which was hastily abandoned without public consultation in the mid 1990s.
  • Ensure companies have a strong incentive to eliminate toxins through the extended producer responsibility measures found in the newly passed Waste- Free Ontario Act.
  • Give municipalities the authority to take control of source separated recyclables from the Industrial, Commercial & Institutional stream at their discretion.
  • Turn organic waste into compost and renewable natural gas by requiring organic source separation and banning organic waste from disposal.
  • Create incentives for companies to design products and processes to reduce waste and make products easily repairable and upgradable.
  • Impose a fee on any new landfill volume created, which would be paid into a special purpose account to be redirected to support research and innovation in solid waste reduction, greenhouse gas reduction and energy from waste technology.

We support several methods to clean-up contaminated sites, including:

  • Holding the province to its commitment to resolve and clean up the mercury contamination in the English-Wabigoon River system, which has been poisoning the people of Grassy Narrows First Nation and White Dog First Nation.
  • Addressing environmental racism by explicitly recognizing in the environmental protection processes that low-income, Indigenous and other communities are disproportionately impacted by pollution and environmental damage. Mercury poisoning near Grassy Narrows and air pollution near Aamjiwnaang in southwestern Ontario are just two examples of this.
  • Resolving the air pollution problems plaguing the Aamjiwnaang First Nation in Sarnia as a result of toxic emissions from Chemical Valley.
  • Making polluters pay for cleaning up contaminated groundwater by giving the government the power to immediately contain or clean up spills or runoff that threaten aquifers, and pursue remedies through the justice system.
  • Working with the Federal government and International Joint Commission to bring a coherent vision for the Great Lakes and Great Lakes Water Basin by implementing comprehensive policies and targeting investments that address invasive species, climate change mitigation and adaptation, reduce chemical and biological waste discharge, while enhancing drinking water protection, cleaning contaminated sites and emphasizing water conservation.
  • Mandating a deposit and take-back program of toxic materials by making it convenient, standardized and well publicized.

 

Environmental Justice

 

Please describe how your party will recognize and respect Ontarians’ environmental rights.

Specifically, how will your party:

  • Implement a next-generation environmental assessment law that provides for cumulative effects assessment, regional environmental assessments, and robust public participation
  • Modernize Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights, including by recognizing the basic human right to a healthy environment

Click on party name to see response

LiberalPCNDPGreen

Liberal Response:

Ontario is recognised as a leader in environmental rights in Canada. The Ontario Liberal Party recognises and supports the environmental rights of Ontarians. We have already worked to ensure many of these rights are part of everyday business. Through the Environmental Bill of Rights, Ontarians have the right to participate in environmental decision making, comment on key environmental proposals and permits, and to appeal decisions. Ontarians also have the right to request an investigation and the right to request a review of policies.

Over the past decade, additional Ministries, Acts and instruments have been added to the requirements of this Act.  We also recently launched the new user-friendly Environmental Registry which will make it easier than ever for Ontarians to find information about facilities or activities in their neighbour and to provide comments.  Our Open Data policies provide information to Ontarians on a wide range of topics, including the environment.

To build on our extensive efforts, the Ontario Liberal Party will continue to engage with stakeholders to further explore the ability to strengthen environmental rights in Ontario. Recognising that many groups feel that environmental rights are best enshrined at a national level in the Constitution, the Ontario Liberal Party would also work with and encourage the federal government to further include environmental rights at the national level.

The Ontario Liberal Party supports the Environmental Assessment Act to assess the potential environmental impacts of development activities. Informed decisions can be made on whether a project should proceed, given its potential environmental impacts, and if recommended to proceed, what conditions may be necessary.  We support working with the federal government to improve the federal environmental assessment process and to ensure alignment with the provincial process. We support improving guidance materials, government processes, and creating opportunities for greater public participation in the environmental assessment process.

The Ontario Liberal Party recognises that the Environmental Assessment is a vital tool for environmental protection and public participation. We support implementing a next-generation environmental assessment law that provides for cumulative effects assessment, regional environmental assessments, and robust public participation. We recognize that continuous improvement of the environmental assessment process can help to ensure that decisions are timely, involve the public and protect the environment.


PC Response:

No response.


NDP Response:

We will update the Environmental Bill of Rights for the first time since the NDP introduced it more than two decades ago, to restore and enhance accountability, transparency and the public’s right to be informed and participate whenever the environment is affected.

We believe that access to safe drinking water is a human right and a public trust, not a commodity to be sold off to the highest bidder regardless of the public interest. We will create an Ontario Water Strategy to guide land use planning, environmental approvals and other government actions wherever the public’s right to water is at stake. We will ensure that Source Water Protection Plans are implemented so every Ontarian has access to water that is safe for drinking, swimming and fishing — with no more water advisories.

We will also work with farmers, processors and rural communities to increase food security and protect Ontario’s irreplaceable prime farmland from unchecked sprawl, land speculation and aggregate extraction.


Green Response:

Implement a next-generation environmental assessment law that provides for cumulative effects assessment, regional environmental assessments, and robust public participation

Modernize Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights, including by recognizing the basic human right to a healthy environment.

To accomplish both of these goals, we will:

  • Reform the Environmental Bill of Rights to include the principle of the right to a healthy environment for all Ontarians, ensure meaningful citizen participation and provide funding for education, and empower the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario to initiate investigations.
  • Apply a climate lens to all planning decisions, environmental assessments and planning laws to help transition our communities to a fossil fuel free future.
  • Increase oversight for industry development that affects our land, water, and wildlife.
  • Ensure that new international free trade agreements only be made in consultation with municipal governments, local communities and indigenous people, without jeopardizing our environment. Oppose investor-state dispute mechanisms that undermine our sovereign ability to protect Ontario’s water, farmland and natural resources.
  • Instill a culture of collaboration and open dialogue between Ministries to ensure natural heritage is protected. This includes encouraging critiques when decisions put our environment and health at risk. For example, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry can make poor resource extraction decisions that threaten our water, a Ministry of Environment and Climate Change responsibility.
  • Increase oversight for industry development that affects our land, water, and wildlife. Raise levies and royalties for aggregates, water, and mining to fully recover the costs of monitoring and managing these essential resources, while providing companies with a financial incentive to prioritize conservation.

 

Accomplishments

 

Please describe three of your party’s most important environmental accomplishments.

Click on party name to see response

LiberalPCNDPGreen

Liberal Response:

The Ontario Liberal Party supports environmental protection, involving communities in decision making and moving Ontario towards a low carbon economy.

Three accomplishments of the Ontario Liberal Party:

Lead the fight against climate change

Ontario has made great strides in fighting climate change.

We have already met our 2014 target of a 6% reduction on carbon emissions, largely due to our elimination of coal-fired power plants. And we are on track to meet our ambitious, legislated targets for 2020, 2030 and 2050.

In 2017, we implemented a “best-in-class” cap and trade carbon pricing system, according to the Environment Commissioner, joining Quebec and California in North America’s largest carbon market as of January 1st. This carbon market guarantees carbon reductions every year, at the lowest possible cost, while generating carbon market proceeds that are invested back into projects that help families, businesses and communities fight climate change right here in Ontario. Over $2.4 billion in proceeds are already being re-invested into more bike lands, energy efficient home and building renovations, low carbon innovation, and public transit.

The Climate Change Action Plan builds the policies and programs needed in the next five years to provide more choices to families and businesses on ways to become energy efficient and lower energy bills. The Action Plan also lays out the specific commitments Ontario is making to meet its 2020 emissions reduction targets, and establishes the framework necessary to meet its targets in 2030 and 2050.  

Work to protect water and air

Ontario has taken important steps to protect our water and air.

We have a comprehensive source to tap system to protect drinking water in Ontario, with safeguards at every step. We have invested over $250 million in science based, local plans to help protect the sources of drinking water – our lakes and rivers. We have taken strong action on water bottlers – including a moratorium on new water bottling plants and no increases in existing water bottling facilities, new stringent rules and among the highest groundwater taking prices in Canada.

We have worked with partners to keep the Great Lakes and Lake Simcoe healthy, through the new Great Lakes Protection Act and new investments. We have invested in water infrastructure and encouraged water innovation and technologies, including a new $52 million commitment in the 2018 Budget. We have also committed $85 million in dedicated funding, through a trust, to remediate mercury contamination in Grassy Narrows and local communities.

We recognize the importance of keeping air clean in Ontario. That’s why we why took initiative to be the first in North America to permanently ban coal-fired electricity generation in the province – marking one of the single largest greenhouse gas reduction initiatives in the North America. Shutting down our coal fire plants, we have reduced nearly one quarter of the sulphur dioxide emissions in Ontario. We have made smog days a thing of the past – helping people in this province breathe easier, and saving the province more than $4 billion in annual health, financial and environmental costs. 

Since shutting down the coal-fired plants, we have seen the number of smog days drop from 53 in 2005 to zero in 2017. We recognize that doesn’t mean the job is done – and we’re continuing to take action.  We’ve released 69 new or updated health-based air standards since 2005, including new air quality standards on sulphur dioxide and benzene, and clarified guidelines around acid gas flaring at refineries to reduce pollution from industries, better reflect current science, and further protect the health of our communities. These efforts have resulted in significant decreases in the emission of various harmful pollutants.  We’ve also created the world’s largest permanent greenbelt.

As always, the Ontario Liberal Party will continue to take further action to keep our water and air clean.

 Create and expand the Greenbelt

Ontario created and has continually expanded the Greenbelt.

Ontario Liberals are committed to preserving the essential watershed, agricultural land, and natural heritage areas that are the key to the continued success of the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) region. As of 2017, the Greenbelt contains over two million acres of land – an area larger than Prince Edward Island – that stretches from Niagara to Peterborough to Lake Huron. It is the largest and most strongly protected greenbelt in the world.

The GGH is vibrant, diverse, and one of the fastest growing regions in North America. It is projected to grow in population from 9M in 2016 to 13.4M in 2041. Managing population growth through land use policies like the Greenbelt, the internationally-celebrated Places to Grow Act, and the Growth Plan not only provides economic benefits, it is also a tremendous legacy for current and future generations.

In addition to managing growth in a smart way, the Greenbelt also supports agriculture and farming, which in turn means jobs and local food. The Greenbelt is home to some of Canada’s most productive farmlands. It is estimated that that economic impact of farming in the Greenbelt is in excess of $6.3 billion annually. The Greenbelt provides continuous land protection agricultural production in the long term.

In 2017, the Ontario Liberals expanded the Greenbelt to include the Urban River Valleys connecting to Lake Ontario to further protect our water, natural heritage, and agricultural lands. But there is more work to be done. That’s why we are committed to further growing the Greenbelt into the outer ring study areas, such as the Waterloo and Paris/Galt moraine complex, the Nottawasaga River corridor in Dufferin and Simcoe County, and the Oro Moraine. These important protections will help ensure our long-term growth and success for today and future generations, while curbing sprawl and building smart, sustainable communities.

 


PC Response:

No response.


NDP Response:

The Ontario NDP government introduced the groundbreaking Environmental Bill of Rights, which established the public’s rights to be informed and to participate in government decisions whenever the environment is affected, and to receive answers from their government whenever environmental harms occur or if policy changes are needed.

The Ontario NDP government created the position of Environmental Commissioner as an independent officer of the Legislature, providing the public with non-partisan and fact-based reports on the government’s actions to protect the environment, address climate change and encourage energy conservation.

The Ontario NDP government established the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, which established for the first time that Ontario’s natural resource policies must be guided by the principles of environmental protection and local community benefits, and not just government revenue

More recently, in opposition, the Ontario NDP has consistently fought alongside activists and advocates for a healthier environment, and delivered results — including: improved drinking water safety policies, enhanced protections for the Niagara Escarpment, the curtailment of water-takings for bottled water, the movement of waste management towards producer responsibility, progress towards rail electrification, the mercury cleanup of Grassy Narrows, strengthened climate change mitigation policies, a stop to attempts to introduce fracking, a full environmental assessment for the risky Hamilton gasification plant, and a halt to the Melancthon megaquarry.


Green Response:

We have been active partners alongside community groups in important environmental efforts in Ontario, including funding for the Experimental Lakes Area, stopping the Melancthon Mega- quarry, and pushing for the ban on neonics.

We continue to fight to protect the places and people we love, including permanent protections for our water, farmland, greenspace and endangered species; setting stronger targets and making efforts to reduce GHG pollution; and building walkable communities connected by transit.