Written by John Nicholson, Editor and Prabhnoor Kaur Toor, Staff Writer
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MOE) recently amended the Environmental Penalties Regulation (O. Reg. 222/07). With the amendment, the Ontario Environment Ministry can now issue Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPs) to landfill sites.
The use of Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPs) is one of the tools the MECP has to enforce environmental laws in Ontario. These penalties serve as a streamlined, consistent strategy to combat violations.
The Ontario Environment Ministry introduced the AMPs regulation in 2007 (O. Reg. 222/07) as an enforcement option that was more severe than a warning but less costly and time-consuming than laying charges and taking a company to court.
AMPs have equated to the environmental equivalent of a speeding ticket. These penalties discourage illegal activities, punish polluters for less severe environmental transgressions, but are not as burdensome as more severe enforcement actions.
AMPs for Landfill Sites
With the ability to now issues AMPs to landfills that contravene environmental laws, the Ontario Environment Ministry will now have another enforcement tool for deterrence and punishment. Now that enforcement officials have access to AMPs, they may choose the monetary penalty approach instead of the lengthy and costly prosecution method through the courts.
The AMPs issued for violations by landfills are not chump change. Penalty amounts reflect the seriousness of the contravention. The monetary penalty range is from $1,000 per day for less serious violations to $100,000 per day for the most serious violations. A person and/or company would be able to seek a reduction of a penalty amount if they can demonstrate that they took steps to prevent or mitigate the contravention.
issued a bulletin that updates a 2022 proposal to revamp and expand Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPs), documented under ERO number 019-4108.
More AMPs to Come
Over the years, O. Regulation 222/07 has been amended, underscoring a focused effort to address compliance gaps in specific sectors.
The amendments to O. Reg. 222/07 to included monetary penalties for landfill sites is just the first step in MECP’s plan to continue to implement the AMP amendments proposed in January 2022 (see the Environmental Bill of Rights Environmental Registry Posting here). Those proposed amendments cast a wide net, covering a host of statutes, from the Environmental Protection Act to the Pesticides Act, showcasing a comprehensive approach.
By encompassing various environmental statutes, the Ontario Environment Ministry is aiming to create a cohesive regulatory framework that addresses the complexity of environmental challenges. It’s a strategic step towards holistic environmental management.
AMP Money to Improve the Environment
The revenue from administrative penalties do not go into general government coffers. Instead, is directed into the Ontario Community Environment Fund, fostering environmental restoration and community resilience.
The Ontario Community Environment Fund directs funds from environmental penalties to important, community-based activities like shoreline cleanups, habitat restoration and tree planting.
In 2023, the government has made available over $1.5 million for local projects that aim to restore the environment.
The Future of AMPS
With the recent AMPs amendment, the government commitment to expand environmental violations subject to monetary penalties, and the existing use of AMPs to support compliance and enforcement efforts at facilities, it more evident than ever that staying in environmental compliance is more important than ever.