Ontario’s omnibus Bill 57 schedule 15, introduced on November 15th, would roll the ECO into the office of the Auditor General, who would direct activities.
This would remove autonomy, independence and capacity for Ontario’s strongest, clearest voice for the environment, pollution prevention and blunting of climate change.
Since 1993, under Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR), the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) has been an independent, non-partisan officer of the Ontario Legislature, to protect Ontario’s vast environment and human health. The ECO watches over the air, water and earth, and all that lives here, from the Great Lakes to the south, through industrial, urban, rural agricultural, extractive industries and natural lands; over the lakes, rivers and wetlands, and the critically important boreal forest. The ECO has reported and brought action on pollution, protection of the natural environment, climate change, energy conservation, waste, and more, with clear analyses and opportunities for action.
The ECOs specialized staff have informed and empowered Ontarians to exercise effectively their legal rights under the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR), to safeguard the environment and public health and safety. (Find excellent reports and resources on the website)
The ECOs evidence-based annual and special investigative reports to the legislature have detailed reasons for failures, and opportunities to improve and strengthen Ontario’s environmental protections. Bill 57 follows closely on reports on climate action (following scrapping of Ontario’s cap and trade program) in September and a sweeping “Back to Basics” report on November 13th.
The ECO holds all Ministries accountable to their Statements of Environmental Values under the EBR.