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Environmental Commissioner of Ontario releases 2009/2010 Annual Report - Refining Conservation

Wednesday, September 22nd 2010 11:02:14am

For Immediate Release

Environmental Commissioner releases 2009/2010 Annual Report

Toronto, September 22 2010 – The government is failing to follow through on all of its environmental promises, says Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller. “This government rightly prides itself on the progress it has made in passing legislation to protect the environment,” says Miller, “but actions on the ground often undermine it.”

In his 2009/2010 Annual Report released today, Miller points to a number of cases where bureaucratic or political inaction has ended up threatening the environment and undermining the government’s stated environmental policies.  The Environmental Commissioner’s report found:

• The Ministry of the Environment has failed to keep an up-to-date inventory of closed landfills that could be polluting nearby groundwater.

Municipal wastewater discharges are worsening the pollution of our Great Lakes because the Ministry of Environment’s discharge rules fail to factor in the rapidly increasing population of southern Ontario.

Ontario’s air quality standards are not airtight, allowing the government to exempt whole sectors of industry from tougher provincial rules.

One billion more trees need to be planted in southern Ontario - far more than the government’s target of 50 million trees by 2020 - to conserve biodiversity and respond to the challenges of climate change.  

• Legislation has been introduced to protect half the boreal forest in the Far North, but ineffective oversight by the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry has allowed mining service companies to set up illegal camps and landing strips.

• The government made a commitment to protect the dwindling number of caribou in the province. But the Ministry of Natural Resources has not protected their habitat from mining or forestry to prevent their likely disappearance from Ontario.

The Environmental Commissioner also says Ontarians need to develop a new approach to conservation, or face the significant consequences of climate change and biodiversity loss. Miller says “current policies have already degraded the environment in the long-term and significantly compromised the ability of future generations to meet their needs. We must make do with less, and use what we have more wisely. This is not a choice for us but a reality imposed by the world we have created.”

The chapters cited above and the entire 2009/2010 Annual Report can be found at www.eco.on.ca/eng/.

Click links below to access media releases on other topics mentioned in the Environmental Commissioner’s 2009/2010 Annual Report – Refining Conservation:

Aging Landfills: Ontario’s Forgotten Polluters
Sewage Treatment – Not Good Enough
Province’s air quality standards are not airtight
Wanted: One billion more trees for southern Ontario
Lack of Mining Oversight Jeopardizes the Far North
Government’s plan will not save caribou
Loophole big enough to truck 160,000 tonnes of sand through
More scrutiny needed for large natural gas plants
Province allows provincially significant wetlands to be drained

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The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario is appointed by the Legislative Assembly to be the province's independent environmental watchdog, and report publicly on the government's environmental decision-making.  

Aussi disponible en français.

For more information, contact:  
Hayley Easto
Communications and Outreach Coordinator
Environmental Commissioner of Ontario
416-325-3371 / 416-819-1673
hayley.easto@eco.on.ca

Click for high-resolution photo.