Ontario’s risk-based approach to environmental approvals includes an Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR). The EASR is a public, web-based system that allows businesses conducting certain activities to register them with the ministry, rather than applying for an environmental approval.

The ministry has developed a multi-step process to determine those activities or sectors that could be suitable for the EASR and subsequent rules that would define eligibility.

Businesses engaged in select activities that meet eligibility requirements are required to register the activity or sector.

The EASR is intended for activities or sectors that:

  • pose minimal risk to the environment and human health when regulated and required to follow specific rules
  • use equipment and processes that are standard to the industry or sector with known environmental impacts

The EASR is a tool that maintains environmental protection. Registrants are required to follow eligibility rules and regulations, and are subject to inspections and compliance penalties.

Jurisdictions that use similar processes to protect the environment are found across Canada, the U.S. and abroad.

Developing EASR regulations

Deciding what activities or sectors are suitable for the registry involves many steps. The ministry must build a strong case, supported by science, that the activity or sector meets the EASR criteria.

Only after all the steps in the review process are completed can the ministry propose an activity or sector to the EASR.

Step 1: screening a sector or activity

The first step involves screening the activity or sector to determine its suitability. This screening considers:

  • the size, location and prevalence of the activity or sector
  • the media (e.g., air, land, or water) impacted by the activity or sector and the risks to the environment if emissions from the activity or sector are not promptly controlled
  • the complexity of the activity or sector (i.e., does this sector use highly complex and site specific processes and/or pollution control measures or are the processes simple and commonly used?)
  • the compliance performance of the activity or sector regarding current environmental standards

The ministry conducts a jurisdictional analysis and reviews historic approvals and compliance infor­mation. Staff also speak with stakeholders and subject-matter experts within the ministry.

Once all information has been obtained, the min­istry determines if all or any part of an activity or sector could be suitable for the EASR.

In general, an activity or sector is suitable for fur­ther consideration if sufficient evidence shows:

  • all or part of the activity or sector uses routine or standard processes
  • potential emissions to the environment can be categorized and have minimal impacts
  • a sufficient number of businesses engaging in the activity or sector would be captured by an EASR regulation

Step 2: detailed analysis

Once the screening process is complete, the min­istry initiates a detailed technical and engineering analysis that may include:

  • identifying all operational aspects or contribut­ing factors of businesses in that sector that may impact the environment
  • identifying best management practices within a sector
  • looking at how potential impacts can be less­ened or avoided altogether
  • estimating the costs to businesses of imple­menting these mitigation measures
  • identifying any component of the activity or sector that significantly impacts the environment but cannot be effectively reduced or lessened by reasonable measures

During this step, the ministry consults with stake­holders to provide input on the analysis.

Industry stakeholders or technical experts may be asked to confirm any assumptions being made, take part in risk analysis, or provide initial input on proposed requirements.

From this process, the ministry develops eligibility and operating criteria for the activity or sector.

Step 3: technical discussion paper and posting

Once the detailed analysis is complete, the min­istry prepares a technical discussion paper that:

  • summarizes the analysis
  • proposes eligibility and operating criteria

The paper is then posted on the Environmental Registry to solicit comments from stakeholders and the public.

Comments received during the posting period are extremely important. They inform the ministry’s decision to proceed to the next step in the process. The ministry values the input received during this stage as it contributes to ensuring that all environ­mental, regulatory, and any other factors are taken into account.

Step 4: draft regulation and second posting

The ministry uses the technical discussion paper and public comments as the basis for the pro­posed regulation. Once drafted, the proposed regulation is posted on the Environmental Registry. This allows stakeholders and the public another opportunity to submit comments.

Comments received during the posting period are reviewed and inform the ministry’s decision to proceed with the final regulation.

If the ministry decides to go ahead with adding this activity or sector to the EASR, and should a regulation be passed, businesses are then able to use the EASR process to register their activity or sector.

Businesses that register are required to abide by the regulation and registry requirements. Registrants are subject to the same penalties as businesses that need Environmental Compliance Approvals.


For more information on environmental approvals:

1-800-461-6290 (toll-free)