The Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks is taking steps to deliver on its Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan to hold polluters accountable, bring violators back into compliance and support environmental projects.

As part of the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, the ministry is proposing to expand the use of administrative monetary penalties to a broader range of environmental violations. It would reinvest the money to support projects that provide local solutions to environmental issues through the Ontario Community Environment Fund to support projects such as the restoration of habitats of endangered species, tree planting and litter cleanup.

“Our government is committed to holding polluters accountable by ensuring strong enforcement with tough but fair penalties for violations,” said Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “Expanding administrative monetary penalties will give us a quick and effective tool against polluters so we can better protect the health and safety of our families, communities and the environment.”

Ontario’s current administrative monetary penalties for environmental violations are limited, leaving the government with few tools to enforce the law. This results in an over reliance on  costly and time-consuming enforcement tools.

Environmental violations where administrative monetary penalties may be used under the new proposal include illegal sewage discharges into waterways, selling pesticides without a permit, failing to have a certified operator when operating a drinking water system, or violating terms of a permit to take water.

The broader use of administrative monetary penalties would provide the ministry with an effective tool to return violators into compliance with the law quickly and ensure consequences are proportionate to the violation. It would also help level the playing field between responsible businesses and those who violate environmental laws by removing potential economic benefits associated with breaking the law.

Since 2010, the Ontario Community Environment Fund has committed over $1.48 million to support 81 projects in 27 watersheds.

Summary of Proposal for amendments to Environmental Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990:

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks needs changes to its compliance and enforcement toolkit to strengthen enforcement and compliance with laws that protect:
• air
• drinking water
• water resources
• land

The government is proposing legislative amendments to introduce, expand and/or clarify enabling authority to issue administrative monetary penalties for environmental violations under key environmental statutes, including:
• Nutrient Management Act, 2002
• Ontario Water Resources Act
• Pesticides Act
• Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002

The proposed amendments would enable administrative monetary penalties to be issued for a broad range of environmental violations under the acts mentioned above. To take effect, violations that may be subject to an administrative monetary penalty would be prescribed in regulation.

The proposal, along with recent amendments to the Environmental Protection Act, would replace existing monetary penalties (i.e. environmental penalties) under the Environmental Protection Act and Ontario Water Resources Act.

Key provisions under the proposed administrative monetary penalty approach are set out under each act and include:
• set maximum penalty amounts or higher if the economic benefit achieved via the violation was higher (penalty amounts would be set by a regulation).
The maximum penalty amounts set in the acts are as follows:
Ontario Water Resources Act – $200,000 per contravention
Pesticides Act – $100,000 per contravention
Safe Drinking Water Act – $100,000 per contravention
Nutrient Management Act – $10,000 per contravention
• ability to review and/or appeal the administrative penalty
• an annual report listing the administrative penalties issued in the last calendar year
• provisions to enable the implementation of administrative monetary penalties in regulation

The proposed changes will be open for comment on the Environmental Registry for a 30-day period.

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