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Bill 68, the  166 page Open for Business Act [i] is now available for download. The Bill establishes a framework for reform of environmental approvals, as part of a three-year initiative intended to foster more efficient government services to business, while continuing to protect the environment and the public interest. This long-overdue Bill received first reading on May 17, 2010, and is likely to pass easily.

Under the Bill, the Ministry of Environment (MoE) is proposing amendments to the Environmental Protection Act and Ontario Water Resources Act (with emphasis on Sections 9 and 27 of the former statute and Section 53 of the latter), in order to facilitate the process of environmental approvals for businesses through a modern, two-tiered risk-based system:[ii],[iii] (1) an online registry, or “permit-by-rule” system, for low-risk activities and; (2) an issuance of a tighter Environmental Compliance Approval for high-risk activities, in the place of all current certificates of approval.[iv] The MoE target for implementation of the new environmental approval system is September 2012.[v]

As part of the same package, the Ministry of Natural Resources is proposing similar amendments to four of its statutes: [vi] the Conservation Authorities Act; Crown Forest Sustainability Act; Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act; and Public Lands Act – in response to issues raised by the land development industry. The proposed changes are intended to “simplify and provide flexibility to approvals and other processes, bring statutes up to date, clarify legal wording and promote compliance.”[vii]

Several environmental organizations argue that the Act jeopardizes Ontarians’ rights under the Environmental Bill of Rights [viii], because simplified approvals for “low risk” activities would not go through individual public notice nor an opportunity to comment; citizens will also lose the right to seek leave to appeal such approvals to the Environmental Review Tribunal.[ix] However, it’s hard to see why “low risk” activities require this degree of red tape, especially because the Director will always be able to put additional requirements on low risk activities, where required.

The official summary of the environmental part of the Bill follows:

Environmental Protection Act

Sections 9 and 27 of the Act are amended to eliminate the re- quirement to obtain a certificate of approval or provisional cer- tificate of approval and to instead require persons engaging in activities mentioned in those provisions to obtain an environ- mental compliance approval. Subject to specified exceptions, this requirement to obtain an environmental compliance ap- proval does not apply if the activity has been prescribed by the regulations as an activity in respect of which a registration under Part II.2 of the Act is required.

Part II.1 of the Act deals with environmental compliance ap- provals. Sections 20.2 and 20.3 set out rules with respect to applications for approval to engage in the activities mentioned in sections 9 and 27 of the Act and section 53 of the Ontario Water Resources Act. Sections 20.4 and 20.5 establish the pro- cess by which environmental compliance approvals are required to be reviewed. The Part also establishes the powers and duties of the Director and other rules relating to the issue, amendment, suspension and revocation of environmental compliance ap- provals and hearings respecting decisions made by the Director on applications under the Part (see sections 20.6 to 20.18).

Part II.2 of the Act establishes the Environmental Activity and Sector Registry. Subject to specified exceptions, if an activity

L’article 56 de la Loi est modifié pour prévoir qu’un débiteur peut exiger d’un créancier garanti qu’il modifie un enregistre- ment en donnant une description plus restreinte du bien grevé ou en retirant une catégorie de biens grevés lorsqu’une sûreté n’a pas été constituée sur cette catégorie.

Loi de 2002 sur le secteur du voyage

L’annexe supprime l’interdiction d’inscrire les personnes mora- les sans capital-actions.

Loi de 1999 sur la société appelée Vintners Quality Alliance

L’annexe modifie les pouvoirs des inspecteurs pour qu’ils soient compatibles avec ceux que prévoient d’autres lois sur la protec- tion du consommateur et ajoute des dispositions permettant la nomination d’enquêteurs, la délivrance de mandats de perquisi- tion, les perquisitions et la saisie de choses.

ANNEXE 6 MINISTÈRE DU DÉVELOPPEMENT ÉCONOMIQUE ET DU COMMERCE

Loi sur les sociétés de développement

Le paragraphe 7 (1) de la Loi, lequel exige que les sociétés de développement aient des sceaux, est abrogé, et les paragraphes 7 (2) et (3) sont réédictés comme articles 7 et 7.1. Le paragraphe 9 (2), qui porte sur la rémunération des chefs de la direction des sociétés de développement, est lui aussi abrogé. Les dispositions abrogées portent sur des questions qui sont traitées dans d’autres lois. Les mentions dans la Loi du trésorier de l’Ontario, qui sont devenues obsolètes, sont remplacées par des mentions du minis- tre des Finances.

Le Règlement 269 des Règlements refondus de l’Ontario de 1990 (Innovation Ontario Corporation) pris en application de la Loi est abrogé.

Loi de 2006 portant dissolution de sociétés inactives

Cette loi est abrogée. Le but qu’elle visait, soit la dissolution de quelques sociétés, étant accompli, elle n’a plus d’effet juridique.

Loi sur la Fondation de recherches

L’article 21 de la Loi, lequel exige un rapport annuel, est abro- gé.

ANNEXE 7 MINISTÈRE DE L’ENVIRONNEMENT

Loi sur la protection de l’environnement

Les articles 9 et 27 de la Loi sont modifiés pour éliminer l’obligation d’obtenir un certificat d’autorisation ou un certificat d’autorisation provisoire. Les personnes exerçant les activités visées à ces dispositions doivent plutôt obtenir une autorisation environnementale. Sous réserve des exceptions précisées, cette autorisation n’est pas nécessaire si l’activité est prescrite par règlement comme activité à l’égard de laquelle un enregistre- ment visé à la partie II.2 de la Loi est exigé.

La partie II.1 de la Loi traite des autorisations environnementa- les. Les articles 20.2 et 20.3 énoncent les règles concernant les demandes d’autorisation d’exercer les activités visées aux arti- cles 9 et 27 de la Loi ainsi qu’à l’article 53 de la Loi sur les ressources en eau de l’Ontario. Les articles 20.4 et 20.5 établis- sent le processus de révision obligatoire des autorisations envi- ronnementales. De plus, cette partie fixe les pouvoirs et fonc- tions du directeur et énonce les règles concernant la délivrance, la modification, la suspension et la révocation des autorisations environnementales et celles concernant les audiences sur les décisions prises par le directeur au sujet des demandes faites en application de cette partie. (articles 20.6 à 20.18)

La partie II.2 de la Loi crée le Registre environnemental des activités et des secteurs. Sous réserve des exceptions précisées,

vihas been prescribed for the purposes of subsection 20.21 (1), persons are prohibited from engaging in the activity at a site unless the activity has been registered in the Registry in accor- dance with the regulations, the Director has provided a confir- mation of registration, the registration is in effect and the activ- ity is engaged in according to rules prescribed by the regula- tions. The Part sets out requirements relating to registrations, including how a registration is required to be maintained and updated and how a registration may be suspended or removed from the Registry (see sections 20.22 to 20.24).

The Act is amended by adding section 157.4, which provides that a provincial officer may give a notice to a person who is engaging in an activity prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of subsection 20.21 (1), stating that the provincial officer reasonably believes that the person is contravening or has contravened the regulations made for the purposes of Part II.2. The provincial officer may require the person to carry out specified measures within a specified time period.

The Act is amended by adding section 182.3, which allows for a provincial officer or the Director to issue an order requiring a person to pay an administrative penalty for failure to comply with specified requirements under Parts II.1 and II.2 or a notice under section 157.4.

Various consequential amendments are made to the Act to re- flect the addition of Parts II.1 and II.2. Various regulation making powers relating to Parts II.1 and II.2 are also added.

Ontario Water Resources Act

Section 53 of the Act is amended to eliminate the requirement to obtain an approval under that section and to instead require a person engaging in an activity mentioned in that section to ob- tain an environmental compliance approval under the Environ- mental Protection Act. Subject to specified exceptions, this requirement to obtain an environmental compliance approval does not apply if the activity has been prescribed by the regula- tions as an activity in respect of which a registration under Part II.2 of the Environmental Protection Act is required. Various consequential amendments are also made to the Act.

References


[i] Ministry of Economic Development and Trade. Ontario Open for Business, At http://www.ontariocanada.com/ontcan/1medt/en/ofb_main_en.jsp

[ii] Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Bill 68: An Act to promote Ontario as open for business by amending or repealing certain Acts, At http://www.ontla.on.ca/bills/bills-files/39_Parliament/Session2/b068.pdf

, p. 8

[iii] Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, News, Backgrounder – Proposed Open for Business Act, At http://www.ontariocanada.com/ontcan/1medt/en/news_2010_05_17_ofb_backgrounder_en.jsp

[iv] Modernizing Environmental Approvals, At http://www.cela.ca/sites/cela.ca/files/720.ModernizingApprovalsProcess.pdf

, p. 5-6

[v] Ministry of the Environment. Discussion Paper. Modernization of Approvals: Proposed Legislative Framework for Modernizing Environmental Approvals, At http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/env_reg/er/documents/2010/010?9143.pdf

, p. 5

[vi] Environmental Registry. (May 19, 2010). Amendments to Four Statutes Administered by the Ministry of Natural Resources to Support Government’s Open for Business Bill, At http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/displaynoticecontent.do?noticeId=MTA5NzQw&statusId=MTY0NzEx&language=en

[vii] Environmental Registry. (May 19, 2010). Amendments to Four Statutes Administered by the Ministry of Natural Resources to Support Government’s Open for Business Bill, At http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/displaynoticecontent.do?noticeId=MTA5NzQw&statusId=MTY0NzEx&language=en

[viii] Canadian Environmental Law Association. (May 18, 2010). Media Release. Environmental Groups Challenge Ontario Government’s Open for Business Act, At http://www.cela.ca/newsevents/media-release/open-for-business-act

[ix] Canadian Environmental Law Association. (May 18, 2010). Media Release. Environmental Groups Challenge Ontario Government’s Open for Business Act, At http://www.cela.ca/newsevents/media-release/open-for-business-act

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