TORONTO, Dec. 20, 2021/CNW/- OPSEU/SEFPO echoes concerns raised by Auditor General Bonnie LysykInformation about how the province enforces environmental law. She continues to criticize the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks in her reports for failing to enforce regulations, even those that deal with environmental law. Ontario’sThe biggest polluters
“This is dj vue all over again,” stated OPSEU/SEFPO President. Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “The Harris Tories slashed Environment ministry and tragic result was seven people killed and 2,000 people infected with E. coli. Walkerton. I thought we had learned 20 years ago that protecting our environment isn’t an option, it’s a necessity.
Recent reports by Auditor General Bonnie LysykIt was noted that the ministry had reduced compliance and enforcement staff by nine percent since 2019, while enforcement activity decreased. The ministry has only filed two charges for harming endangered species. The Ministry of Natural Resources, on the other hand, accumulated an average of 19 charges each year for the act it was responsible for. The Auditor General noted that there were not enough enforcement resources to enforce the legislation pertaining to species at-risk.
According to Shawn BurrOPSEU/SEFPO Chair of Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks Ministry Employee Relations Committee, (MERC), staffing cuts have impacted enforcement hard.
“These cuts are affecting many the protections our professional uphold, such as proactive inspections and the recovery of costs from spills. We are constantly told to do more with less. This isn’t realistic when there are cuts and new programs being added,” Burr stated. Lysyk’s reports make the situation even worse. “This ministry is not listening.”
“The government promised to keep polluters accountable in their Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan,” noted OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “But here you see the Environment ministry failing in spillage costs recovery and putting taxpayers at the expense of violators. It’s a shame. OntarioIt is open for business, not to pay the bills of polluters.”
Thomas concluded that “Bottom line the ministry must restore staffing levels to the Ministry of the Environment.” “It is not reasonable for already-overworked staff to take on more.
Thomas said, “The government is playing the dice, and it’s too high.” “We are talking about the extinction a species or the loss of human lives. Once they’re gone, there’s no way to bring them back.”
SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO)
Warren (Smokey), Thomas (613-329-1931) for more information. [email protected]