Environmental Bill of Rights

Update November 23, 2018 – In response to the Province’s announced plans to eliminate the office of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO), FOCA has issued an important “call-to-action” for you:
  1. Read FOCA’s letter to the Premier (November 26, 2018; PDF,  2 pages)
  2. Add your voice by sending your own message to the Premier and your MPP; remember to copy president@foca.on.ca!

November 15, 2018 – FOCA joined partner environmental organizations across the country, in opposing the elimination of the ECO. Read the joint letter from environmental organizations to the Premier (Nov. 15, 2018; PDF, 4 pages)


November 21, 2016 – The Province of Ontario is considering a revamp of their online public notification system, the Environmental Registry, and your comments are needed to make this tool more user friendly and effective. If you have an interest in getting timely notices and relevant background on key decisions made in the province on environmental legislation, regulations, or decisions, visit EBR #: 012-7929 to complete their short survey.
The comment period ends Dec. 21, 2016
August 2016 – Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) is under review. The EBR was first introduced over 20 years ago, and is a tool that affords citizens the right to participate and be consulted in decision-making on some environmental projects and government decisions. Since the EBR was enacted, a number of important environmental principles have emerged (including concepts such as ‘polluter pays’ and the ‘precautionary principle’).
Have your say! Comment by November 8, 2016. Information is posted, here. Final recommendations are expected to be released in March 2017.
August 2016 – A message from Dianne Saxe, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario:
In early 2016, ECO Saxe visited the FOCA office. At left: Steve Kerr, FOCA Board of Directors. At right: Terry Rees, FOCA Executive Director.

In early 2016, ECO Saxe met with FOCA. At left: Steve Kerr, FOCA Board of Directors. At right: Terry Rees, FOCA Executive Director.

There is good news about the environmental rights of Ontario residents, and an opportunity to make them better:

1.  A long awaited opportunity to update the EBR, 1993

Significant environmental decisions are too important to leave entirely to government. The Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) allows Ontarians to participate in such decisions, and to hold the government accountable for the results.

For 23 years, the EBR has helped citizens achieve better environmental outcomes (see some success stories here), but strengthening the EBR is long overdue. The ECO has called for EBR reform since 2005. In 2010, environmental groups used EBR tools to persuade the province to review the legislation, but nothing really happened until now.

Until Nov. 8, 2016, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) is finally seeking comments on Review of the EBR, (EBR Registry Number:012-8002). Our comments on some key EBR reforms, based on our office’s 23 years as guardian of the EBR, are posted here. If you care about environmental rights, don’t miss this chance to tell the government what you think.

2.  Better government compliance with the EBR

I am pleased with the great success our office has had in encouraging government ministries to improve their compliance with the EBR, since my appointment last fall. In June, we reported how each of 14 government ministries respect EBR environmental rights, and we are glad to see that they are continuing to improve. See eco.on.ca/reports/ebr-performance-checkup-2016/.

3.  Easy to use Registry Alert Tool and website

Ontarians have the right to know when the Ontario government is planning an environmentally significant decision — and to have a say in that decision. But exercising that right effectively has required a tedious manual daily search of the frustrating Environmental Registry.

Instead, the ECO has created a much-needed shortcut to help you stay up-to-date on the issues you care about. Once you register your keywords, you will get relevant Environmental Registry Alerts directly to your email the same day they are posted. See how to start your personal email alerts at http://alerts.ecoissues.ca/.

While you are there, check out our new website, packed with help in exercising environmental rights, and with our high quality, non-partisan research on energy, climate, and environment.

Need more EBR help?

The ECO office can provide a free webinar on EBR rights and successes to any group of at least 25 people. To arrange a webinar, please contact us through our Public Information Line: 416-325-3377 / 1-800-701-6454, or by e-mail to commissioner@eco.on.ca.

~Dianne Saxe, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario

Terry ReesEnvironmental Bill of Rights