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The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (“ECO”) released her office’s 2018 Annual Report, titled, “Back to Basics: Respecting the Public’s Voice on the Environment” on November 13, 2018.[1]

The Report is published in four volumes, spanning 339 pages.

Volume 1 reports on government ministries’ compliance with their obligations under the  Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993, S.O. 1992, c. 28 (“EBR”), the public’s’ use of the EBR processes, and provides an “EBR Report Card” rating ministries’ performance. The Report Card demonstrates that the 17 ministries subject to the EBR improved their compliance performance in 2017-18.

Volume 2 addresses the limits of the Clean Water Act, 2006, S.O. 2006, c. 22, which protects against pollution of municipal drinking water sources, but does not address drinking water taken from private wells.

Volume 3 focuses on efforts to monitor Ontario’s species and ecosystems and calls on the government to do a better job of collecting, analyzing and sharing data, and to strengthen wildlife disease surveillance.

Volume 4 addresses the state of wetland protection and forest preservation in southern Ontario, pointing out that government policy that balances wetland and forest protection with agricultural, infrastructure and resource extraction activities continues to result in wetland and forest losses.

This is expected to be the last Annual Report prepared by the ECO, as the government’s Bill 57 (Schedule 15) once enacted will transfer this responsibility to the Office of the Auditor General, who is expected to appoint a Commissioner of the Environment.

[1] The Annual Report is issued in accordance with section 58(1) of the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993, S.O. 1992, c. 28 (“EBR”).

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