Media Release

Environmental Group Files Legal Application to Review Ontario's Environmental Bill of Rights

Dec 23 2010

Toronto - Two lawyers with the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) have filed a formal Application for Review of Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR).

“The EBR is one of Ontario’s most important environmental laws, but it has remained virtually unchanged since it was first enacted in 1993,” said Theresa McClenaghan, counsel and Executive Director of CELA. “Over the past 17 years, it has become increasingly apparent that the EBR needs to be reformed in order to better facilitate public access to environmental justice.”

The Application for Review has been filed under Part IV of the EBR, and requests an immediate focused review of the EBR and certain regulations. Among other things, the Application recommends that the EBR should be amended to:

- update the legislative purposes of the EBR;
- entrench a substantive public right to a clean and healthful environment;
- strengthen public participation rights under the EBR;
- enhance the powers of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario; and
- improve citizen access to the courts in environmental matters.

“In our view, it is clearly in the public interest to review and revise the EBR as soon as possible. Otherwise, Ontario residents will continue to experience difficulty in using the EBR to protect the environment and hold the provincial government accountable for its environmental decision-making,” stated Richard Lindgren, counsel with CELA. Mr. Lindgren represented CELA on the Environment Minister’s Task Force that drafted and consulted upon the EBR almost two decades ago.

The Application for Review has been filed with Mr. Gord Miller, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. Under the EBR, Mr. Miller is obliged to forward the Application to the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) within 10 days, and he will review and report upon the MOE’s response to the Application. It is anticipated that the MOE’s preliminary response will be released in early 2011.

The Application for Review has been web-posted at www.cela.ca, and additional background information about the EBR is available at www.eco.on.ca.

For more information, please contact: Theresa McClenaghan (416-960-2284, ext. 219) or Richard Lindgren (613-385-1686).

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