New Comprehensive Environmental Assessment Projects Regulation and other changes

We’ve made a number of changes to reduce duplication and allow more projects to follow a streamlined environmental assessment process. These changes will:

  • maintain environmental oversight
  • help get critical infrastructure built faster to support Ontario’s growing population

We recently made a regulation under the Environmental Assessment Act that sets out projects that are subject to a comprehensive environmental assessment.

Learn more about this and the other related regulatory changes made to move the environmental assessment program to a project list approach.


Ontario is modernizing its almost 50-year-old environmental assessment (EA) program to better serve communities now and in the future.

Environmental assessments require that project proponents consider potential impacts on the environment before beginning construction of projects, such as provincial highways, landfills, transmission lines and certain power plants.

The changes we are making to the EA program will:

  • maintain environmental oversight while reducing delays on infrastructure projects that matter most to Ontario communities
  • require consultation, including Indigenous consultation, before projects move forward
  • support development and economic growth while continuing to protect the environment

2024 regulatory and related changes

The following section contains information on regulatory and other changes that have taken place so far in 2024.

Comprehensive Environmental Assessment Project List

In February 2024, to support the move to a project list approach under the Environmental Assessment Act we:

  • proclaimed relevant provisions to the Environmental Assessment Act
  • made a number of new regulations and
  • made changes to existing regulations

These include a new designation and exemption regulation under the Environmental Assessment Act, titled Part II.3 Projects – Designations and Exemptions. This regulation is referred to by the ministry as the Comprehensive Environmental Assessment Projects Regulation.

With these changes, the Environmental Assessment Act will generally apply to:

  • projects designated in the Comprehensive EA Projects Regulation and other regulations under the Environmental Assessment Act
  • projects to which an approved class EA applies

In February 2024, the following project types became subject to a streamlined process:

  • Certain rail projects led by:
    • Ministry of Transportation (MTO)
    • Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC)
    • Metrolinx
    • municipalities
  • certain electricity transmission line projects
  • certain transmission station projects
  • certain highway projects (provincial freeways and municipal expressways projects)

Visit the Environmental Registry of Ontario to learn more about these regulatory changes and related actions.

Class EA amendments to align with the project list approach

We made changes to seven Class EAs to align them with amendments to the Environmental Assessment Act and regulations under that Act, including:

  • the Comprehensive Environmental Assessment Projects Regulation and
  • related regulations

As a result of these changes, certain projects are now subject to a Class EA instead of a comprehensive environmental assessment (formerly referred to as an individual environmental assessment).

Projects that are subject to a Class EA must be carried out in accordance with the requirements of the Class EA.

Read more about the amendments to Class EAs to align with the project list approach visit ERO# 019-8018.

Updates to waste management, electricity, transit and rail projects guides

We made updates to the guides for the waste management projects, electricity, transit and rail projects to align these with the:

  • Comprehensive EA Projects Regulation
  • amended Environmental Assessment Act

Proposal to extend the expiry date of Environmental Assessment Act approvals

In November 2021, we consulted on a proposal to extend by 10 years the statutory expiry date of the Environmental Assessment Act  approvals of nine projects (ERO#: 019-4428). 

We have now extended the expiry date for eight projects. The eight projects can proceed without needing to complete a new environmental assessment, subject to the conditions in those approvals and any other permits and approvals required. Seven of the eight projects will also have to comply with conditions included in their notice of extension.

Extending expiry dates:

  • allows important infrastructure projects like transit and highways to be built without delay while maintaining environmental protections
  • supports our growing communities

Learn more about the decision to extend the expiry date of certain environmental assessment approvals.

Previous actions

2019 updates

In 2019, we presented our vision for a more modern and efficient EA program in our 2019 Modernizing Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Program discussion paper. We launched consultations with industry, municipalities, Indigenous communities and the public.

Following these consultations, we made changes to the Environmental Assessment Act through Bill 108, More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019. These changes exempted low-impact projects, such as bike lanes and roadside parks, from environmental assessment requirements.

2020 updates

In July 2020, the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020, amended the Environmental Assessment Act, allowing us to begin transforming the EA program. Amendments to the section 16 order process, provisions that require applicants for new large landfills to obtain municipal support from host and certain adjacent municipalities as part of the approval process, and other amendments have already taken effect.

Since that time, the ministry has continued to move forward with developing, consulting on, and implementing regulations and other modernization initiatives to:

  • move to a project list approach, which clearly identifies the projects that require an environmental assessment
  • replace class environmental assessments with a streamlined assessment framework that has consistent requirements
  • reduce the amount of time it takes to complete the comprehensive EA process from approximately six years to three years
  • allow for online submissions of environmental assessments to improve accessibility, timelines and sharing of information
  • develop standardized work plans for selected sectors to get important infrastructure built faster
  • improve coordination of provincial and federal environmental assessments

Learn more about these changes on the Environmental Registry of Ontario.

2021 updates

In December 2021 we made a minor amendment to the Environmental Assessment Act to make it clearer that the Act includes authority to change the types of projects that can follow a class environmental assessment process.

We also made changes that would eliminate duplication and reduce delay for certain projects, including:

2023 updates

In August 2023, we made the following changes to advance certain policy elements of EA modernization (Moving to a Project List Approach under the Environmental Assessment Act):

  • exempted Crown activities related to the Algonquin Land Claim settlement from the Environmental Assessment Act.
  • allowed more landfill expansions to follow a streamlined environmental assessment process
  • provided additional consistency and flexibility with the environmental assessment process
  • reduced duplication while maintaining environmental safeguards

Learn more about these changes on the Environmental Registry of Ontario.

Projects related to provincial parks and conservation reserves

On September 13, 2023, certain Crown projects related to provincial parks and conservation reserves were exempted from Environmental Assessment Act requirements.

The new Project Evaluation Policy will maintain environmental safeguards.

For more information on the decision, read the Environmental Registry posting.

Changes to the 30-day waiting period

As part of the Reducing Inefficiencies Act, 2023, the Environmental Assessment Act was amended to provide the minister with the authority to waive or shorten the 30-day waiting period that follows the completion of a Class EA process. The new authority may be used on a project-by-project basis.

For more information on the decision, read the Environmental Registry posting.

Other proposed changes – Class EA amendments

To safeguard the environment, proponents of projects that follow a streamlined process, including a class EA process are required to:

  • consult with Indigenous communities, the public and stakeholders
  • complete an environmental assessment
  • develop mitigation measures
  • document the findings in a report

Building on the More Homes, More Choice Act, 2019, we consulted on changes proposed by proponents of eight class environmental assessments. The proposed changes to the class environmental assessments would:

  • better align study requirements with the potential for environmental impacts
  • increase efficiency in class environmental assessment processes
  • reduce duplication with other legislation, planning or approvals processes
  • inform the development of new streamlined environmental assessment regulations that we may make since proposed amendments to the Environmental Assessment Act
  • allow us to focus on projects with the potential to impact the environment and communities

Having considered input received on the proposal, amendments were made to the following five Class EAs:

The proposed changes to the other three class environmental assessments remain under review. If these changes are made, a notice will be posted on the Environmental Registry.

Evaluating Municipal Class Environmental Assessment requirements for municipal infrastructure projects

On February 16, 2024, we posted a proposal on the Environmental Registry seeking input on revoking the Municipal Class EA and replacing it with a regulation that would provide a time-limited streamlined process for certain water, wastewater and waterfront and shoreline projects.

Consultation with municipalities, stakeholders and Indigenous communities is underway.

This proposal is open for comment from February 16, 2024, to March 17, 2024.