Strengthen Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights as it approaches its 25th anniversary. This ground-breaking legislation has served Ontario well by bringing transparency to decisions that affect the health of our air, water and land. But despite these gains, the people of Ontario are still not guaranteed the right to breathe clean air, drink clean water or enjoy a toxic-free environment, a legal right enjoyed by citizens in many other countries. So it would be only fitting to mark this important anniversary of the EBR by incorporating recognition of the right to a healthy environment and by improving the environmental protections it offers all Ontarians by:
- Including recognition of the substantive right to a healthy environment for all Ontarians. Human
- health, wellbeing, and dignity depend on access to clean air and water, safe food and a stable climate. This should be explicitly spelled out in Ontario’s EBR.
- Expand the fundamental rights enshrined in the EBR by including principles such as “polluter pays,” “zero discharge” and “precautionary principle.” Including these concepts will improve decision making by increasing the incentive to avoid environmentally damaging actions rather than simply dealing with the consequences.
- Incorporate the concept of “environmental justice” into the EBR, with the goal of increased equity by recognizing that low-income communities and other historically disadvantaged groups are disproportionately exposed to and impacted by pollution and environmental damage.
- Give Ontarians a broader opportunity to legally appeal government decisions that affect the environment. When government is seen to have fallen short of obligations under the EBR in relation to acts, regulations or policies, Ontarians should have the ability to seek judicial review and to request appropriate remedies.
- Narrow or remove exceptions to requirements for posting decisions to the EBR relating to Environmental Assessments and ensure it applies to more government ministries, including Ministry of Infrastructure, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Ministry of Finance, Treasury Board Secretariat, and Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.