Canada: Streamlined Approvals Process Proposed in Ontario

May 19th, 2010 | By | Category: Canada, Environmental Management


The Ontario, Canada Ministry of the Environment (MOE) says it will be easier to apply for and obtain environmental approvals using its proposed risk-based approvals model. To be introduced over the next two years, the model will focus approvals resources on activities that pose the greatest risk to the environment and on businesses with poor compliance records.

According to MOE, the approvals modernization process should also


  • allow for single-site, multi-media permits and single, multi-site approvals;
  • provide service delivery standards and online tools to support government-to-business interaction in the approvals processes; and
  • improve public transparency through improved reporting and an online public information website to access approvals related information.

Under the streamlined approach, eligible activities would be registered with the Ministry and would bypass the C of A requirements. Although MOE is not calling it “permit by rule”, that is the proposal. Facilities would be required to register with MOE, operate according to rules established in regulation, and certify to MOE compliance with these rules on a regular basis. Regulated operations would be subject to audit by the Ministry.

The posting does not contain any significant changes for processing of application for activities not eligible for permit by rule. Strikingly absent is any mention of the MOE’s obligation to consider cumulative effects. We have not seen any proposals that MOE will issue Cs of A based on the detailed technical review of the documentation submitted by the applicant and results of any public input. Nothing new here.

Processing of submissions under both the Registry and C of A processes is to be modernized via a one-window, online system. Business will be able to log on to access their “account”, submit information, track the status and remit fees related to their applications.

The streamlined system should help the Ministry process the more than 6,000 requests for Cs of A it receives each year. The proposal was posted on the Environmental Registry March 2, 2010, with a deadline for public comment of April 16, 2010. The Ministry expects to begin introducing changes to the environmental approvals system by September 2012. We do not anticipate major changes to legislation. As is usually the case nowadays, the devil will be in the detail of the comprehensive regulatory and policy decisions.

About the Author

Paul Manning is a Partner and Certified Specialist in Environmental Law at Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers, LLP in Toronto, Canada. His environmental law practice includes energy and climate change law, tribunal and appellate advocacy, environmental regulatory law and defense to prosecution. Willms & Shier specializes in environment, energy, resources and aboriginal law.

Photograph: City Night by Turbolium, Toronto, Canada.

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