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MOE and MNR Can’t Handle Core Responsibilities

(Toronto, November 29, 2011) Capacities are stretched dangerously thin at the two ministries mandated to protect Ontario’s environment and natural resources.  This warning was issued today by Gord Miller, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, as he released his 2010/2011 Annual Report.

Research has found that at a time when their core businesses have become more complex, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Natural Resources have to make do with less.  Compared to budgets in the early 1990s, MNR has suffered a 22 per cent decline in its operating budget after accounting for inflation, while MOE’s operating budget was cut by 45 per cent.

The Environmental Commissioner notes that growing environmental pressures have forced the mandates of these two ministries to expand and increase in complexity. “Simply put, I’m seeing a lot more work that needs doing, and a diminishing capacity to do it,” says Miller.

  • New legislative initiatives such as the Endangered Species Act, 2007, the Lake Simcoe Protection Act, 2008 and the Green Energy Act, 2009 all require significant resources for effective monitoring and oversight.
  • Ontario has a full suite of regulatory and policy tools it can use to clean up the Great Lakes, but MOE and MNR don’t have the capacity to apply them.
  • The Ministry of the Environment has not published an overview of performance parameters for municipal waste water treatment plants since 1993.
  • The Ministry of the Environment has been struggling with tens of thousands of out-dated Certificates of Approval allowing facilities to ignore current environmental standards.

“It troubles me, and it may trouble many Ontarians” says Miller “that for every dollar spent on government operations, less than one penny goes to the ministries that bear the burden of protecting our environment and natural resources. The day-to-day activities of these ministries touch the lives of all Ontarians.”

Read the chapter “Less and Less: Budgets for MOE and MNR Not Meeting Needs”

Download the Environmental Commissioner’s full 2010/2011 Annual Report, “Engaging Solutions.”

Accompanying media releases:

MOE and MNR Can’t Handle Core Responsibilities
Ontario Government Failing Endangered Species
Government Failing to Reduce Ontario’s Waste

For more information, contact:
Maria Leung
Communications and Outreach Coordinator
Environmental Commissioner of Ontario
416-325-3371 / 416-819-1673



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