Small Steps Forward: Environmental Protection Report 2015/2016

The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) is the guardian of the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR), and reports to the Ontario Legislature, and to the public, on energy conservation, climate change and environmental protection.

This report focuses on two questions:

1. Do the environmental rights of Ontarians get enough respect? (Volume 1)

2. How well do recent Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) initiatives conserve biodiversity? (Volume 2)

Environmental Rights

There has been meaningful progress on the Environmental Rights of Ontarians since December 2015, as the ECO showed in their Special Report EBR Performance Checkup: Respect for Ontario Environmental Rights 2015/2016, Ontario government ministries improved their compliance with the EBR in 2016. The report outlines a series of recommendations developed to improve, protect and enhance the respect of the environmental rights of Ontarians.

The MNRF and Biodiversity

The MNRF is responsible for almost all of Ontario’s biodiversity, including the plants, animals and natural landscapes for which Ontario is known for. This biodiversity is coming under increasing threat due to climate change impacts. The MNRF released new tools this year to help conserve biodiversity, including the new Invasive Species Act, the Fire Management Strategy, and new moose management measures. The report notes that the MNRF struggles to fulfil its many mandates due to limited resources and demand of its multitude of stakeholders. The report offers key recommendations to better manage Ontario’s biodiversity.

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