This introduction to the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 is for information only, and is not legal advice. Please refer to the applicable statutes and regulations for the exact legal requirements.

About the Environmental Bill of Rights

The Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 came into effect in February 1994. The EBR allows you the opportunity to participate in decisions that could impact Ontario’s:

  • air
  • water
  • land
  • wildlife

The EBR , or certain parts of it, applies to certain ministries and requires that those ministries be asked to consult on specific:

  • acts
  • policies
  • regulations
  • instruments for example, approvals, permits, licences and orders)

The Auditor General of Ontario is responsible for reporting on the operation of the EBR.

Statements of Environmental Values

Ministries that are subject to the Environmental Bill of Rights have to:

  • develop a Statement of Environmental Values (SEV)
  • take reasonable steps to consider their SEVs when making decisions that might significantly affect the environment

Each ministry’s SEV should explain how:

  • the purposes of the EBR are to be applied when ministry decisions are made that might significantly affect the environment
  • consideration of the purposes of the EBR should be integrated with other considerations, including social, economic and scientific considerations, that are part of decision-making in the ministry

Read each ministries’ Statements of Environmental Values.

Know your rights

A clean environment is important to our health, well-being and economic prosperity. We all have a responsibility to protect our environment and take part in decisions that affect it.

Under the EBR, you may:

  • comment on specified environmental government proposals
  • ask ministries subject to the act for either a new policy, act, or regulation, or to review of an existing policy, act, regulation or instrument
  • ask certain ministries to investigate an alleged harm to the environment
  • seek leave (permission) to appeal ministry decisions on certain instruments, such as permits, licences, approvals or orders
  • in some cases, sue someone for causing harm to the environment
  • get whistleblower protection

Comment on a government proposal on
the Environmental Registry of Ontario

The Environmental Registry of Ontario is a searchable, online database we use to consult on certain provincial government decisions we’re considering that might affect the environment. We use the registry to let people know about environmental matters in the province.

It allows you to comment on posted:

We consult with you on the registry by:

  • posting certain proposals for policies, acts, regulations and instruments which could have a significant effect on the environment
  • giving you a minimum of 30 days to comment on the proposals
  • informing you of decisions we make

Making a comment on the Environmental Registry of Ontario is not a way of casting a vote. The number of comments received does not determine the proposal’s outcome.

Once a proposal has been implemented the ministry must post a notice on the environmental registry explaining the effect, if any, of public participation on the proposal.

The ministry must take reasonable steps to consider relevant comments.

Learn more about the consultation process and frequently used terms on the registry.

Request a review

If you are a resident of Ontario, you may apply to a minister to review the need for:

  • a new policy, act or regulation in order to protect the environment
  • changes or to revoke an existing policy, act, regulation or instrument.

You must submit a request for review with another Ontario resident. You cannot submit an application on your own.

You may only ask for a review by a ministry that is subject to the EBR.

Learn more about the EBR application for review process.

The review request process

To request a review:

  1. Download and print the Application for Review form.
  2. Send the completed application form by mail or email, including all supporting documents, to the ministry that is, or would be, responsible for the policy, act, regulation or instrument.

Once your completed application form is received, the ministry will:

  • confirm it was received within 20 days
  • inform you about its decision whether to conduct a review within 60 days

If you submit your application to a ministry not subject to the act, you will be notified within 10 days.

Ministry decision

If the ministry decides:

  • not to conduct a review – the application for review process comes to an end, within 60 days of the ministry receiving the form
  • to conduct a review – it will conduct the review within a reasonable time, and let you know what action, if any, will be taken

Determining if a review will be undertaken

The minister will do a preliminary review of your application to determine whether the public interest warrants a review of the matters raised in your application.

The ministry may consider:

  • its Statement of Environmental Values
  • the potential for harm to the environment if the review is not undertaken
  • whether the matter is already subject to periodic review
  • relevant social, economic, scientific or other evidence
  • submissions from anyone else with a direct interest in your application
  • resources needed to conduct the review
  • how recently the act, regulation, instrument or policy was proposed or approved
  • the extent of public participation in developing the policy, act, regulation or instrument
  • any other matter the minister considers relevant

Other considerations

A minister will not review a decision:

  • that was made in the past 5 five years, and
  • where that decision was made in a manner the minister considers consistent with the public participation provisions under the EBR

However, the minister could decide to undertake a review if you can show that there is new evidence that was not considered when the decision was made. You must demonstrate that not undertaking the review could significantly harm the environment.

Request an investigation

If you are a resident in Ontario and you believe that a person, company or group is breaking an environmental act, regulation or instrument, you may apply for an investigation if the legislation is subject to the EBR, or if the instrument is classified under the EBR.

The application for investigation process is set out in the EBR.

You must submit a request for investigation with another Ontario resident; you cannot submit an application on your own.

The investigation request process

To request an investigation:

  1. Download and print an Application for Investigation form.
  2. Provide a sworn statement of belief (affidavit) to confirm you believe the facts alleged in your application are true. This statement must be sworn or solemnly affirmed before a commissioner for taking affidavits in Ontario.
  3. Send your completed application form by mail or email, along with any supporting information and your affidavit, to the ministry responsible for the act, regulation or instrument your application is about.

Ministry decision

The ministry will confirm, in writing, that your application was received within 20 days.

If the ministry decides not to investigate

The ministry will let you know within 60 days of receiving your application.

The Application for Investigation process then comes to an end.

The minister does not need to investigate if it determines:

  • the application is frivolous or vexatious
  • the alleged violation isn’t serious enough to warrant an investigation
  • the alleged violation isn’t likely to harm the environment
  • an investigation is already under way or has already been completed

If you do not receive notice from a ministry

This may mean a ministry has decided to undertake the investigation.

After the investigation is completed

The ministry has 30 days to let you know the outcome and any actions it has taken or plans to take.

Apply for leave to appeal a government decision

If you’re an Ontario resident, you may seek leave (permission) to appeal certain instruments under the EBR, as set out by regulation. Instruments could include licences, permits, approvals and orders.

The instrument decision notice on the Environmental Registry of Ontario provides more information about seeking leave to appeal.

The leave to appeal process

To seek leave to appeal:

  1. Apply to the appropriate appellate body, which will be listed on the decision notice posted on the Environmental Registry of Ontario. You must apply within 15 days after the decision notice is posted.
    You may wish to include the following in your application:
    • a copy of the approval, permit or licence you are appealing
    • a statement explaining why you believe you have a right to seek leave to appeal the decision
    • a statement of all facts that you are relying on for the appeal
    • a statement explaining why you think your appeal passes both parts of the leave test
    • copies of any supporting documents
    • a statement describing the portions of the instrument that you wish to challenge in the appeal hearing
    • a statement describing the outcome you are seeking
    • your contact information
  2. Provide notice to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks that you are seeking leave for appeal. Please include a brief description of the:
    • decision from which you are seeking leave to appeal
    • grounds for the application for leave to appeal
      To provide notice
    • email
    • by mail at:
      College Park 5th Flr, 777 Bay St, Toronto,
      ON M7A 2J3
  3. The appellate body will consider your application, and will generally make a decision within 30-60 days.
  4. The appellate body may dismiss or allow your leave to appeal. If your leave application is allowed, you are permitted to appeal the instrument. The ministry’s instrument will be put on hold until the appeal is decided, unless the appellate body orders otherwise.
  5. If you are granted leave appeal, you will need to file a complete Notice of Appeal by the deadline specified by the appellate body.
  6. After hearing the appeal, the appellate body may:
    • uphold the ministry’s decision
    • overturn the ministry’s decision
    • decide if new conditions should be added to the ministry’s original decision

Other actions

Sue for causing harm to the environment

Ontario residents may take legal action against someone for breaking an act, regulation or instrument that causes significant harm to a public resource. You may also take legal action if there was direct personal injury or direct economic loss.

Contact the Law Society of Upper Canada to find names of Ontario environmental law specialists.

Whistleblower protection

The EBR allows you to file a written complaint claiming an employer has taken reprisals against an employee (for example, dismissing, penalizing or harassing an employee) on a prohibited ground.

The EBR lists prohibited grounds including:

  • exercising various rights under the EBR
  • giving information to an appropriate authority for the purposes of an investigation, review or hearing related to a prescribed policy, act, regulation or instrument
  • giving evidence in a proceeding under the EBR or under a prescribed Act.

For more information about whistleblower protections under the EBR, please see Part VII of the act or contact the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

Contact us

For general inquires, please contact Tel: 416-325-4000.
Contact the Spills Action Centre to report an urgent environmental issue such as:

  • waste dumping
  • noise pollution
  • spills

Prescribed ministries

Ministry namePost environmentally significant policies and statutes. Prepare statement of environmental values Post environmentally significant regulations under prescribed actsPost proposals for certain permits, licences, approvals and ordersApplication for review may be submittedMinistries that are responsible for acts or instruments subject to applications for investigation
Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs  
Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade    
Northern Development
Environment, Conservation and Parks
Public and Business Service Delivery
Long-Term Care   
Municipal Affairs and Housing
Indigenous Affairs    
Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development    
Natural Resources and Forestry
Tourism, Culture and Sport   
Treasury Board Secretariat