Ontario ignoring public’s rights to environmental consultation, public info: audit


TORONTO – A new audit has found the Ontario government ignored the public’s rights to consultation on environmentally significant decisions.

The auditor general’s annual report on the environment found the Ministry of the Environment and several others deliberately avoided consulting the public on such decisions.

Ontarians’ rights to public information and consultation on decisions that may impact the environment are enshrined in law, similar to French-language and employment rights.

The report says the Environment Ministry has failed to show leadership on the Environmental Bill of Rights and some other ministries don’t have formal procedures for following it.

The audit found some changes were made by ministries that don’t have to follow Environmental Bill of Rights and in other cases environmentally significant changes were made to laws that aren’t covered by it.

It also found the Environment Ministry has not met its obligations to educate residents about their environmental rights.

Lack of transparency was also highlighted in other environmental audits, one of which found the province is not providing comprehensive reports on the state of the environment or progress on its environmental goals.

Another audit flagged a lack of timely and comprehensive disclosure about the quantity and harm of hazardous spills.