Statement of Environmental Values: Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure

1. INTRODUCTION

The Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) was proclaimed in February 1994. The founding principles of the EBR are stated in its Preamble:

  • The people of Ontario recognize the inherent value of the natural environment.
  • The people of Ontario have a right to a healthful environment.
  • The people of Ontario have as a common goal the protection, conservation and restoration of the natural environment for the benefit of present and future generations.

While the government has the primary responsibility for achieving this goal, Ontarians should have the means to ensure that it is achieved in an effective, timely, open and fair manner.
The purposes of the Act are:

  • To protect, conserve and where reasonable, restore the integrity of the environment;
  • To provide sustainability of the environment by the means provided in the Act; and
  • To protect the right to a healthful environment by the means provided in the Act.

These purposes include the following:

  • The prevention, reduction and elimination of the use, generation and release of pollutants that are an unreasonable threat to the integrity of the environment.
  • The protection and conservation of biological, ecological and genetic diversity.
  • The protection and conservation of natural resources, including plant life, animal life and ecological systems.
  • The encouragement of the wise management of our natural resources, including plant life, animal life and ecological systems.
  • The identification, protection and conservation of ecologically sensitive areas or processes.

To assist in fulfilling these purposes, the Act provides:

  • the means by which Ontarians may participate in the making of environmentally significant decisions by the Government of Ontario;
  • increased accountability of the Government of Ontario for its environmental decision-making;
  • increased access to the courts by residents of Ontario for the protection of the environment; and
  • enhanced protection for employees who take action in respect of environmental harm.

The EBR requires a Statement of Environmental Values from all designated ministries.   The designated ministries are listed at:
http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/content/index2.jsp?f0=aboutTheRegistry.statement&f1=aboutTheRegistry.statement.value&menuIndex=0_3&language=en

Statements of Environmental Values (SEV) are a means for designated government ministries to record their commitment to the environment and be accountable for ensuring consideration of the environment in their decisions.  A SEV explains:

  • how the purposes of the EBR will be applied when decisions that might significantly affect the environment are made in the ministry; and
  • how consideration of the purposes of the EBR will be integrated with other considerations, including social, economic and scientific considerations, that are part of decision-making in the ministry.

It is each Minister's responsibility to take every reasonable step to ensure that the SEV is considered whenever decisions that might significantly affect the environment are made in the Ministry.
The Ministries will examine the SEV on a periodic basis to ensure the Statements are current.

2.  MINISTRY VISION, MANDATE AND BUSINESS

  • The mandate of the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure is to foster a dynamic business climate, promote future investments, oversee the province's long term-infrastructure plan and identify strategic opportunities to foster economic growth through infrastructure planning as well as to manage the Province's realty portfolio and exercise agency oversight of the projects of Infrastructure Ontario in a manner that supports both economic prosperity and environmental sustainability.

Key responsibilities in fulfilling this mandate include:

  • Stimulating investment in key sectors of the new economy, with an emphasis on knowledge-intensive industries;
  • Attracting, creating, and retaining a skilled workforce and skilled jobs;
  • Strengthening Ontario's international profile as a preferred investment location and a source of high quality goods and services;
  • Creating faster, smarter and streamlined government-to-business services and establishing a modern system of government through the Open for Business initiative;
  • Supporting small and medium sized businesses and promoting entrepreneurship;
  • Implementing  and enforcing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 and Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001;
  • Providing oversight and direction for several key government agencies, entities and councils including Infrastructure Ontario and Waterfront Toronto;
  • Coordinating the management of the ministry's realty portfolios and leading the coordinated approach to government realty planning and decision-making;
  • Coordinating the Province's long-term infrastructure plan and priorities, in consultation with municipalities and the federal government; and
  • Supporting economic growth and meeting changing needs, including those resulting from climate change, through strategic infrastructure investments.

Specific details on the Ministry's activities can be found on the Ministry website:  http://www.ontario.ca/page/about-ministry-economic-development-employment-and-infrastructure

3.  APPLICATION OF THE SEV

The Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure is committed to applying the purposes of the EBR when decisions that might significantly affect the environment need to be made within the Ministry, and as it develops Acts, regulations and policies.

4. INTEGRATION WITH OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

The Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure will promote an innovative, competitive economy supported by modern infrastructure as well as manage the Province's realty portfolio and maintain oversight of Infrastructure Ontario, in a manner that is sustainable to the environment. The Ministry will take into account social, economic and other considerations; these will be integrated with the purposes of the EBR when decisions that might significantly affect the environment need to be made.

5. MONITORING USE OF THE SEV

The Ministry will ensure that staff involved in decisions that might significantly affect the environment are aware of the Ministry's Environmental Bill of Rights obligations.

6.  CONSULTATION

The Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure believes that public consultation is vital to sound environmental decision-making.  The Ministry will endeavour to provide opportunities for appropriate consultations, including with affected industries, and technical and environmental experts, when making decisions that might significantly affect the environment.

7. CONSIDERATION OF ABORIGINAL PEOPLES

The Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure recognizes the value that Aboriginal people place on the environment.  When making decisions that might significantly affect the environment, the Ministry will provide opportunities for involvement of Aboriginal people whose interests may be affected by such decisions so that Aboriginal interests can be appropriately considered. This commitment is not intended to alter or detract from any constitutional obligation the province may have to consult with Aboriginal peoples.

8.  GREENING OF INTERNAL OPERATIONS AND ENERGY CONSERVATION

The Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure believes in the wise use and conservation of natural resources.  The Ministry will cooperate and share knowledge with other Ministries in support of Government of Ontario initiatives to conserve energy and water, and to wisely use our air and land resources in order to generate environmental, health and economic benefits for present and future generations. 

The Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure is committed to reducing its environmental footprint by greening its internal operations.  The Ministry will support environmentally sustainable practices among its partners, stakeholder and suppliers as well as government-wide greening and sustainability initiatives.