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This fall, several ministries, including the Ministry of the Environment, quietly adopted new Statements of Environmental Values, to replace the 1994 versions. The new SEVs are more detailed and more ambitious. This may make it even more difficult for the MOE to issue approvals for innovative technology, in light of this year’s decisions in Lafarge.


Here is a brief summary of the differences between the 1994 and 2008 SEVs:

The 2008 versions are somewhat more specific and realistic than the 1994 versions. For example, where environmental harm occurs, the 1994 version said “action will be take to ensure that those responsible for the harm rededicate it and to prevent a recurrence”.  The 2008 version says “In the event that significant environmental harm is caused, the Ministry will work to ensure that the environment is rehabilitated to the extent feasible”. The 2008 version also states its principles in the present tense, rather than the future tense as in 1994 (for example, “The Ministry adopts an ecosystem approach”, rather than “The Ministry will adopt….approach”


Section by section breakdown:


MOE SEV 1994 (uses Roman numerals)

(Ministry of Environment & Energy)

MOE SEV 2008 (uses numbers)


(Ministry of the Environment)

Part I – Intro is almost identical 1. Intro – additional line that says the Ministry will examine the SEV on a periodic basis to ensure the Statements are current
Part II – Outlines Ministry Mandate only – to protect the quality of the natural environment to safeguard the ecosystem and human health. 2. Outlines Ministry Vision, Mandate and Business – an Ontario w/ clean and safe air, land and water that contributes to healthy communities, ecological protection, sustainable development for past and future generations. MOE develops & implements legislation, regs, standards, policies, guidelines and programs, and achieves Ontario’s goals by doing research, monitoring, inspecting, etc.
Part III – Guiding Principles: 3 broad categories – The Ecosystem Approach, Environmental Protection and Resource Conservation 3. – Application of the SEV: will consider the effects of its decisions on future generations “sustainable” development principles, will use a precautionary, science-based approach vis-à-vis human health, inserts ‘polluter pays’ principle, planning and management should strive for continuous improvement and effectiveness thru adaptive management, supports and promotes a range of tools (stewardship, outreach, education). Expanded section on how the ministry works to protect, restore and enhance the natural environment and human health.
Part IV – Public Participation – Ministry commitment to public participation, open and consultative process. 6. Consultation is vital

7. Consideration of Aboriginal Peoples – expanded and more detailed consideration of Aboriginal peoples in terms of consultation and involvement

Part V – Integration – briefly mentions “green industries”, includes sentence on First Nations’ participation and using science 4. Integration – use of best science and scientific research, “development and application of technologies, processes and services”, and will take into account social, economic and other considerations
Part VI – Application – monitor and track use of SEV in decision-making, enforcement of environmental laws 5. Monitoring Use of SEV –  document how SEV was applied in decisions, further educate staff
  8. Greening the Internal Operations – expanded detail on how the Ministry will support Government initiatives to conserve and reduce environmental footprint



The ministry works to protect, restore and enhance the natural environment by:

  •        Developing policies, legislation, regulations and standards to protect the environment and human health,
  •        Using science and research to support policy development, environmental solutions and reporting,
  •        Ensuring that planning, which aims to identify and evaluate environmental benefits and risks, takes place at the earliest stages in the decision- making process;
  •        Undertaking compliance and enforcement actions to ensure consistency with environmental laws, and
  •        Environmental monitoring and reporting to track progress over time and inform the public on environmental quality.

In addition, the Ministry of the Environment uses a range of innovative programs and initiatives, including strong partnerships, public engagement, strategic knowledge management, and economic incentives and disincentives to carry out its responsibilities.

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