Envirommental Bill of Rights


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Last updated
24 August 2012



Unique to Ontario, the passage of Ontario's Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR), and the establishment of an electronic Environmental Registry designed to provide access to it, represent a new approach to government decision-making and public consultation.

What is the Environmental Bill of Rights?

The EBR gives every citizen of Ontario the right to participate in environmental decision-making. The goals of the EBR are to protect, conserve and restore the integrity of the environment, to provide for the sustainability of the environment, and to protect the right to a healthful environment

What is the Environmental Registry?

The Environmental Registry is an important component of the EBR which provides the information you need to participate in environmentally significant government decision-making. The Environmental Registry is a computerized "bulletin board" system that contains general information on the EBR, each ministry's Statement of Environmental Values, and ministry proposals and decisions for environmentally significant policies, acts, regulations and instruments.

You can access this registry through your local participating public or First Nations library, your home computer, or a computer network, such as Web or Internet. There is a minimum 30-day comment period for each proposal put on the registry and you have the right to comment on any proposal. Ministries must consider and respond to your comments.

What are your rights under the EBR?

  • the right to a healthful environment
  • the right to participate in government decisions that will significantly affect the environment by commenting on proposed laws, policies, regulations and instruments, appealing environmental decisions, reviewing laws and requesting investigations
  • the right to make the government accountable for environmental decisions it makes
  • the right to improved access to the courts
  • the right to report, without reprisal by your employer, environmental hazards in the workplace

There are 13 provincial ministries subject to the EBR, and each ministry has formulated a Statement of Environmental Values (SEV). The SEV explains how the ministry plans to apply the EBR to any decision that might significantly affect the environment, and how the purposes of the EBR are to be integrated with other considerations (such as social, economic, and scientific considerations) within the ministry. You can use the SEV to assess any ministry decision that is environmentally significant.

What is the role of the Environmental Commissioner?

The Environmental Commissioner is an independent officer of the Legislative Assembly and is appointed for a five year term. Eva Ligeti is Ontario's first Environmental Commissioner. She reports to the Legislative Assembly-not to a political party or to a ministry. The Legislative Assembly is made up of government representatives and is responsible for passing laws.

The Environmental Commissioner reviews and reports on the government's compliance with the EBR. To make sure the EBR is upheld, the Environmental Commissioner and ECO staff:

  • Provide public education programs about the EBR
  • Provide assistance to citizens using the EBR
  • Review the use of EBR procedures to protect employees who experience reprisals for "whistle-blowing".
  • Report annually to the Legislative Assembly on how ministries comply with the EBR.
  • Review annually to the Legislative Assembly on how ministries comply with the EBR,
  • Review the use of discretion by ministries under the EBR.
  • Review how ministries use public input to draft environmental acts, regulations and policies, and how minitries investigate reported EBR violations.
  • If requested, assist the ministries to develop thorough, consistent Statements of Environmental Values (SEVs)
  • Monitor the use of appeals and court actions under the EBR.


One of the ECO's roles is to function as a mailbox and clearinghouse for Review and Investigation Applications.

Public Education and Assistance

You need to know about and understand the EBR to use your environmental rights. The ECO's staff are here to:

  • Answer your questions about using the EBR.
  • Give you a Review or Investigation Application.
  • Receive your comments about how the EBR is working or suggestions about how to improve it.

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