The Ontario government recently voted in Committee to remove Schedule 10 from Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act. The removal of Schedule 10 was in response to comments received concerning impacts to farmland, drinking water sources and other natural areas that risked being pressured for development.
Schedule 10 proposed to amend the Planning Act (“Act”) to add a new section 34.1 allowing local municipalities to pass open for business planning by-laws. These by-laws allow a municipality to exercise its powers set out in section 34 of the Act to provide for specific conditions. A municipality under this section would be permitted to pass an open for business planning by-law only if it received approval to do so in writing from the Minister and if the prescribed conditions were satisfied. Note that certain provisions of the Act and other statutory instruments that would ordinarily apply to a by-law passed under section 34 would not apply to an open for business planning by-law.
Schedule 5 of Bill 66, however, remains in place being the repeal of the Toxic Reductions Act (“TRA”) and rely on the Federal Chemicals Management Plan in 2021. The TRA represents the only law in Ontario that addresses the reduction of the use of toxic chemicals. The TRA as currently in force requires that businesses that use or manufacture substances covered by the National Pollutant Release Program (NPRI) to develop Toxic Substances Reduction Plans and track, quantify and report on these substances. Numerous agencies including the Ontario Public Health Association opposes repealing the TRA. There is a concern that the TRA and its associated regulations increased the protection of public and environmental health through the reduction of the use, creation, and generation of toxic substances.
The Federal Chemicals Management Plan requires industry to reduce the use and/or release of certain specified toxic substances. The Chemicals Management Plan is aimed at reducing the risks posed by chemicals to Canadians and their environment. The next phase of the CMP will address the approximately 1550 priority chemicals out of the original 4300 chemicals identified. Both the Minister of Health and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change have committed to addressing these chemicals by 2020. This federal plan builds on previous initiatives by assessing chemicals used in Canada and by taking action on chemicals found to be harmful to human health and/or the environment.
The impacts of this decision remain to be seen. The goal of the TRA was intended to fill a gap in the federal toxics statutory regime with the goal of reducing the use and impacts of the toxic chemicals identified.