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The Ontario Legislature should soon get on with second reading of Bill 37, An Act respecting Invasive Species. Once passed, it would be Canada’s first law specifically designed to control invasive species.

In the last session, before the May 2014 election, this Bill died on the Order Paper as Bill 167. It was reintroduced as Bill 37 on November 5, 2014, and started second reading debate on December 8. Now that the Legislature is back in session, with numerous sitting days between now and June 4, there is ample time for the Ontario government to keep its promise of moving quickly with this Bill.

Most of the relevant details, on how the Bill would actually work, have been left to be determined through regulations.

According to the province:

“For the purpose of the proposed act, invasive species include plants, animals or other organisms (e.g., bacteria) that are not native to Ontario or a part of Ontario that have had, or that may have, negative impacts to the natural environment and associated economic and social benefits.

If passed, the proposed act would provide authority to:

  • Enable the passage of regulations which would list invasive species. Upon listing, a suite of restrictions would be applied to the species (e.g., illegal to possess, deposit, release, transport, buy, sell, lease, trade, and propagate the species).
  • Enable, through the passage of regulations, restrictions on carriers of invasive species. Carriers are things that harbour invasive species and enable their movement and spread. Prohibitions for carriers would be determined on a case-by-case basis.
  • Provide for exemptions from the prohibitions under certain circumstances (e.g., possession of an invasive species for research, control, or educational purposes).
  • Enable the minister to temporarily designate an invasive species that poses a significant threat, in order to take immediate action. This provision would only be used where waiting to list the species in regulation would cause significant harm to the natural environment.
  • Enable the ministry to undertake rapid response activities such as implementing control and eradication activities. These provisions would only be used in limited circumstances, and would be based on the scale of the threat and the potential impact to the natural environment and economy.
  • Provisions are also included which enable the minister to prepare provincial invasive species prevention and response plans for extremely high risk species, and enter into agreements.

The proposed act, if passed, would come into force one year after receiving Royal Assent.”

Will the proposed Invasive Species Bill pass before invasive Asian carp reach the Great Lakes, with devastating effects?

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