The Ontario Government recently announced it has made a temporary regulation to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. This regulation exempts all proposals for policies, acts, regulations and instruments from posting requirements under the EBR and removes the requirement to consider Statements of Environmental Values for the duration of the State of Emergency.

The new regulation, Temporary Exemptions Relating to Declared Emergency (O. Reg. 115/20) exempts proposals for Acts, policies, regulations and instruments Part II of the the Environmental Protection Act.  The reasoning for the new regulation given by the government is that the existing state of emergency may requires fast action to protect the health and safety of persons.

As a consequence of the new regulation, the following is in effect:

  • proposals for policy, act, regulation and instrument notices will no longer be required to be posted for 30-day comment period
  • decision-makers will no longer be required to consider their SEVs

According to the National Observer, the action by the Province of Ontario means that it is suspending environmental oversight rules.  In the view of the National Observer, the change allows the Ontario Government to push forward projects or laws that could significantly impact the environment, without consulting or notifying the public.

In an e-mailed response to the National Observer, a spokesperson for Ontario Environment Minister Jeff Yurek, Andrew Buttigieg, said,  “This will ensure our government is able to quickly respond to time-sensitive needs that arise as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic.”

The proposed regulation is temporary and will automatically terminate 30 days following the termination of the state of emergency.