|Unique to Ontario, the passage of
Ontario's Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR), and the establishment of an electronic
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
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
- 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
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
- 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.
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.