A Review of Ontario's Species at Risk Legislation
EBR Registry Number:
Ministry of Natural Resources
Date Decision loaded to the Registry:
September 05, 2007
Date Proposal loaded to the Registry:
March 20, 2007
The Ontario government is undertaking a review and update of the province's species at risk legislation to provide for broader protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats. The public was invited to participate in this review by providing comments on a series of legislative proposals developed by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR).
This notice was first published to the Environmental Registry on May 9, 2006, for a 59-day comment period. It was republished December 21, 2006, to provide the following update:
The public commented between May 9 and July 7, 2006 on a series of legislative proposals set out in a Discussion Paper. The Minister of Natural Resources invited and received a report from an Advisory Panel of experts (the Endangered Species Act Review Advisory Panel) regarding proposed new legislation.
The Advisory Panel recommended a framework for species at risk protection and recovery based on the following three pillars:
1. Stewardship and incentives programs that could provide effective protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitat. These programs would be applied proactively to engage the agricultural community, private landowners, industry and the general public;
2. Legislation to establish an effective legal framework to protect and recover species at risk; and,
3. Policies and implementation approaches that would support the legislation to ensure its effectiveness.
When combined, these pillars would provide effective protection and recovery measures as well as the tools needed to apply the new act.
In his address to the Legislature on December 14, 2006, the Minister of Natural Resources stated the ministry's intentions to develop new legislation based on the Advisory Panel's framework.
The Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) received Royal Assent on May 17, 2007 as Chapter 6, Statutes of Ontario, 2007 following third reading in the Legislature on May 16, 2007. The ESA will come into force when proclaimed or on June 30, 2008.
Comments on the initial proposed legislative provisions were obtained through public comment on two Proposal Notices posted on the Environmental Registry in May 2006 and December 2006, meetings with stakeholder groups and meetings with Aboriginal organizations and communities, as well as through input received from the Endangered Species Act Review Advisory Panel, a Minister-appointed panel established to provide advice on the legislative initiative.
Substantive changes were made to the proposed legislative provisions as a result of the above-noted input, and resulted in the following provisions being incorporated into the ESA:
Species assessed as being at risk by the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO) will be automatically listed as being subject to the protection provisions of the Act, thereby establishing a science-based listing approach;
The role of Aboriginal traditional knowledge in determining the classification of species;
Recognition of Aboriginal rights and interests;
Automatic habitat protection for species listed as endangered or threatened;
Minister’s power to require urgent assessment or reconsideration of an assessment by COSSARO;
Limitations on the circumstances in which agreements and permits may be issued so that they are primarily for the protection or recovery of species, however including an opportunity for the government to consider issuance of permits where there will be a significant social or economic benefit to Ontario;
Allowance for recognition of instruments under other Acts which have the same effect as a permit under ESA;
Establishment of the Species at Risk in Ontario Stewardship Program;
Allowance for establishment of an advisory committee (separate from COSSARO) to provide advice to the Minister and make recommendations on matters related to implementation of the Act; and,
Special requirements for regulations which may have a significant adverse effect on a species.
The Endangered Species Act, 2007 received First Reading in the Legislature on March 20, 2007 and Bill 184 was posted on the Environmental Registry as a Proposal Notice for public comment. The Bill received Second Reading on April 25, 2007, following which it was referred to the Standing Committee on General Government. The Committee approved a number of amendments to the Bill, and these amendments were approved by the Legislature upon Third Reading of the Bill. The following substantive amendments were approved at Third Reading:
Addition of a third purpose of the Act, which is to promote stewardship activities to assist in the protection and recovery of species at risk;
Clarification to the wording of the definition of habitat;
Addition of a clause which prohibits members of COSSARO from acting as lobbyists on matters related to the Act;
Direction for COSSARO to include, as part of its prioritized list of species to be assessed, those species which they have not yet assessed, but which have been classified as species at risk by the federal Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, which was established under the federal Species at Risk Act;
Addition of a prohibition making it an offence to transport species at risk and to sell, lease, trade or offer to sell lease or trade anything represented to be a species at risk (whether or not it actually is a species at risk);
Additional direction on the content of recovery strategies prescribing the minimum elements of strategies and regarding the application of the precautionary principle when preparing the strategies;
Limitation which provides that the Minister cannot delay the preparation of a recovery strategy if the delay will jeopardize the survival or recovery of a species at risk in Ontario;
Addition of a nine (9) month timeline within which the Minister must ensure that the government’s response to a recovery strategy is prepared;
Addition of requirements for the Minister to implement the portions of the government’s response which are feasible and within the responsibility of MNR, and to publish a review of the progress towards the protection and recovery of the species no later than five (5) years after the statement is published;
Mandatory preparation of management plans for special concern species within five (5) years of listing if plans or recovery strategies for those species are not required under the federal legislation; in some circumstances, there will be an ability to delay the preparation of the management plans;
Addition of response and implementation requirements for management plans similar to those for recovery strategies;
Addition of provisions which require the Minister to consider any government response to recovery strategies (if available) prior to entering into an agreement, issuing a permit or prescribing an instrument;
Additional requirement for the Minister to consider recommendations in a recovery strategy and the government’s response (if available) before a regulation is made prescribing the habitat of a species;
Addition of a section addressing situations involving species that are not easily distinguishable from species at risk;
Addition of a transition section specific to Pelee Island;
Additional direction for certain regulations which requires the Minister to obtain an expert report and undertake specific public consultation steps if he or she is of the opinion that any regulation under the Act is likely to jeopardize the survival or a species at risk in Ontario or if a regulation prescribing the habitat of a species is likely to result in a significant reduction of the number of the species that live in the wild in Ontario; and,
Addition of a provision prohibiting regulations which would, in the Minister’s opinion, result in the species no longer living in the wild in Ontario.
Comment(s) Received on the Proposal:
Public Consultation on the proposal for this decision was provided for 30 Days, from March 20, 2007 to April 19, 2007.
As a result of public consultation on the proposal, the Ministry received a total of 2001 comments: 1721 comments were received in writing and 280 were received online.
Additionally, a copy of all comments are available for public viewing by contacting the Contact person listed in this notice.
A selection of these comments are available:
(opens in new window)
Effect(s) of Consultation on this Decision:
The original, high-level, proposed legislative concepts were described in a discussion paper entitled “Towards Better Protection of Species at Risk in Ontario”. The discussion paper and an associated electronic questionnaire were posted as a Proposal Notice on the Environmental Registry (AB06E6001) in May 2006. In total, 302 comments (including 198 completed questionnaires) were received in response to this posting. All input was reviewed, summarized and posted on the MNR Species at Risk website; a link to the MNR website was provided in the Environmental Registry Proposal Notice. The Endangered Species Act Review Advisory Panel reviewed the input and made its own recommendations in an August 2006 report to the MNR Minister.
In December 2006, the Ministry announced its intention (via an updated Proposal Notice on the Environmental Registry) to proceed to draft legislation based on the Advisory Panel’s recommendations; the Advisory Panel’s report was posted on the MNR Species at Risk website, and as above, accessible through the link in the Environmental Registry Proposal Notice to the MNR website. In total, 247 comments were received in response to this posting.
Input received in response to the Environmental Registry Proposal Notices reflected a wide diversity of viewpoints, ranging from concerns that the legislative proposals were overly restrictive and might negatively impact landowners, municipalities and resource user groups, to concerns that the provisions providing some flexibility might be used as loopholes and might jeopardize the protection and recovery of species at risk.
The Ministry generally followed the framework proposed by the Advisory Panel in drafting the Bill for consideration by the Legislature. The changes noted above were made to fill gaps, clarify intent and generally strengthen the Bill to ensure implementable legislation which would assist in the protection and recovery of species at risk.
In response to the March 2007 posting of the First Reading version of Bill 184 on the Environmental Registry, 1452 comments were received, including 41 group/association/organization letters, 296 individual submissions and 1115 form emails/faxes. These comments were taken into consideration during the proceedings of the Standing Committee on General Government.
Manager, Species At Risk Legislative Review
Ministry of Natural Resources
Natural Resource Management Division
Fish and Wildlife Branch
99 Wellesley Street West Toronto Ontario M7A 1W3
The following government offices have additional information regarding this
To arrange a viewing of these documents please call the Ministry Contact or the Office listed below.
880 Bay Street Toronto Ontario M7A 1N8
Government Information Centre
Robinson Place Lobby Terrace Peterborough Ontario K9J 8M5
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