Bill 229 permanently exempts logging from Ontario’s Endangered Species Act
Schedule 8 in Bill 229 puts Ontario’s biodiversity and claims to sustainable forestry at risk
TORONTO (Mississaugas of the Credit, Anishnabeg, Chippewa, Haudenosaunee and Wendat Territories) – Yesterday, the Ontario government negated 12 years of efforts to reconcile forestry operations with legislation in the province’s Endangered Species Act by granting a permanent exemption for logging from complying with provisions to protect and recover species-at-risk in the province.
“The Ford government is abandoning any serious attempts at preserving biodiversity and the province’s reputation for sustainable forestry,” said Krelove.
Schedule 8 of Bill 229 passed yesterday. It permanently exempts forestry companies licensed through the Crown Forest Sustainability Act from the prohibitions preventing the killing and destroying of species at risk habitat as well as provisions to protect and recover habitat. Worse still, Schedule 8 removed the ability of the minister of the environment, conservation and parks to issue a species protection order or a habitat protection order to halt or alter forestry operations, even in circumstances where significant harm to an endangered species will result.
“This is a huge blow to the health of forest-dependent wildlife such as woodland caribou, wood turtles, Blanding’s turtles and migratory songbirds,” said Krelove. “Requirements under the Crown Forestry Act are merely to minimize harm to species-at-risk — they cannot replace legal protections under the ESA.”
The Wilderness Committee asserts the Ford government is dodging requirements for public input by putting this in an omnibus budget bill.
“The fact is every other temporary exemption for forestry has garnered hundreds and thousands of comments in opposition by Ontarians,” said Krelove.
“The Ford government is once again demonstrating their disdain for environmental democracy, as well as the biodiversity crisis.”
When it was brought into force in 2008, Ontario’s Endangered Species Act granted a temporary exemption for logging to allow time for the industry to transition practices to meet the legal mandates for protection and recovery of recognized species-at-risk. Subsequent exemptions in 2013 and 2018 cited the complexity of the transition as well as ongoing consultations.
The latest temporary exemption granted in 2019 had over 4,000 public comments on the Environmental Registry of Ontario, which have yet to be made public. Schedule 8, passed through an omnibus budget bill exempted it from public comment. No reference was made to the 12 years of public inquiry into the issue as offered as part of Schedule 8.
For more information, please contact:
Katie Krelove, Ontario Campaigner