In advance of the Ontario provincial election on June 2, Ecojustice is calling on all candidates to adopt and support policies that will fight climate change, tackle dangerous pollution and stop the loss of biodiversity.
Ontario, like so many places across Canada, is at risk from the dangers of the climate emergency, the widespread impact of toxic pollution, and the loss of species and biodiversity.
To face down these challenges, political leaders of all stripes in Ontario need to take action and support policies that will build a safe, sustainable future for everyone.
Ecojustice is a registered charity, which means that while we cannot advocate for or against any one political party or candidate, we can advocate strongly for better environmental laws and policies that will benefit everyone in Ontario.
Our team has shared with all major parties policy proposals we believe will deliver solutions to the environmental crises Ontario faces.
You can read the full briefing note here¹, or scroll down for an abbreviated look at Ecojustice’s four platform recommendations:
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change²(IPCC) has delivered a stark warning that governments around the world are running out of time to avert a climate catastrophe.
Canada ranks dead last among the G7 nations on climate progress, and each province has a crucial role to play in combating climate change and reducing emissions.
Ontario was once a climate leader but recent rollbacks of its climate legislation was a serious setback.
In order to tackle climate change and reduce emissions, Ontario must pass a climate accountability law that holds the government accountable for achieving climate goals and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
This legislation should:
Ontario is home to a wealth of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, including 71 million hectares of forest that provide habitat for endangered species, store carbon, and protect watersheds. These ecosystems support Ontarians’ livelihoods and keep our communities healthy.
However, Ontario’s rich biodiversity is under serious threat from loopholes that allow industry to cut down forests and further endanger the many species that depend on that habitat for survival.
A drastic overhaul of Ontario’s Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Environmental Assessment Act (EAA) gutted protections for the province’s most vulnerable plants and animals and significant forests.
Ontario’s Auditor General found that the province is falling behind other jurisdictions because it has no long-term plan for protecting species at risk, nor any performance measurement framework to evaluate whether existing programs and policies are helping species.
The next Ontario government must:
When Ontario passed its Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) in 1993, it was ahead of the curve. However, the legislation’s shortcomings have since become increasingly apparent and in need of serious reform.
It must be modernized to bring it up to speed with legal developments, provide a meaningful right to a healthy environment for all Ontarians, and achieve its stated purposes: environmental protection, public participation, and government accountability.
The EBR should affirm that everyone in Ontario has a right to a healthy environment, achieved through protecting people and places from pollution and ecological destruction.
All parties should commit to improving the EBR by:
Ontario communities near industrial areas — often vulnerable, marginalized or racialized communities such as the Aamjiwnaang First Nation near Sarnia — experience disproportionate impacts from air pollution.
Ontario has been slow to adopt regulatory measures to address this inequality, and the weak measures it has adopted have resulted in little progress during the last two decades.
Seventeen years ago, Ontario enacted Local Air Quality Regulation 419/05 (Reg 419). The regulation was supposed to protect communities from industrial air pollution.
However, faced with strong opposition from a powerful industrial lobby, the initial promise of this regulation has been lost through several exemptions, amendments, lengthy implementation delays, and failures to set health-based standards for harmful pollution.
To protect the health and wellbeing of people across Ontario, including vulnerable or marginalized communities, candidates in Ontario’s election must commit to developing a robust and transparent strategy for improving air quality that includes:
In advance of Ontario’s election day on June 2, visit Election Ontario and make sure you are ready to vote!