On March 28, 2022, the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (the “Ministry”) concluded the comment period for regulatory notice ERO 019-4108, Expanding administrative penalties for environmental contraventions. The Ministry proposed regulations that would allow the use of administrative penalties for environmental contraventions, under the following acts:
- Environmental Protection Act (“EPA”)
- Nutrient Management Act, 2002 (“NMA”)
- Ontario Water Resources Act (“OWRA”)
- Pesticides Act
- Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002 (“SDWA”)
The proposal includes five new regulations, one under each of the above acts, and an administrative penalty guidance document. The proposed penalty regulations under the EPA and the OWRA would revoke and replace existing environment penalty regulations O. Reg. 222/07 and O. Reg. 223/07 under the EPA and OWRA, respectively. The notice indicated the purpose of the regulations would be to “expand the Ministry’s ability to issue administrative penalties for a broader range of contraventions; and provide front-line staff with stronger tools to better enforce Ontario’s environmental laws.”
The penalties collected will help fund the Ontario Community Environment Fund, a grant meant for environmental restoration and remediation projects, and help provide local solutions for environmental issues.
The ERO notice did not provide any drafts for the proposed regulations during the comment period so any analysis of the actual text and its impact would be speculative. Draft regulations may be posted on the Registry under a separate notice prior to their promulgation, however the ERO notice does not provide a commitment from the Ministry to do so or solicit any further feedback on the draft regulations once they have been completed.
The proposed penalties that will be imposed for contraventions of the acts are noted in “Classification of Contraventions for Administrative Penalties”. The use of the expanded administrative penalties will be guided by the Informed Judgement Matrix found in the Ministry’s compliance policy that will consider the health and environmental consequences of a contravention along with the likelihood of compliance with an act to determine the appropriate tool to elicit compliance.