Ministry overview

Ministry’s vision

  • Maintaining core work that provides strong environmental protections to safeguard our air, land, water and climate for all Ontarians today and in the future, while finding efficiencies and building a sustainable and modern ministry.
  • Building a service-focused organization that engages with Ontario residents and businesses in a modern and efficient way without impacting core ministry activities.

Purpose and priorities

Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) is responsible for monitoring and protecting our air, land and water, species at risk and their habitat and addressing climate change while helping communities prepare for its impacts, reducing litter and waste, and managing Ontario’s provincial parks and conservation reserves now and for future generations of Ontarians.

The ministry is implementing the most effective and affordable evidence-based solutions to protect our environment, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to the impacts of a changing climate.

In 2022–23, we will continue to work to find practical, sensible and affordable solutions to some of our most pressing environmental concerns, including climate change, which meet the needs of our diverse communities while encouraging all Ontarians to take meaningful action to protect and preserve our natural environment. We will support the plan to build Ontario in a responsible and sustainable way that will continue to ensure Ontario’s strong environmental protections are maintained and improved.

Ministry programs

Our environment plan outlines our top environmental concerns, including climate change, and the keys to our province’s future success. The themes and priorities listed below showcase the creative and innovative ways our programs and services meet those challenges and how we are protecting and conserving our environment:

  • Addressing climate change
  • Reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill
  • Keeping our water safe and clean
  • Protecting our air
  • Protecting natural spaces and species
  • Holding polluters accountable
  • Supporting infrastructure development while ensuring environmental protection

Addressing climate change

We are taking meaningful action to help communities prepare for the impacts of climate change and lower greenhouse gas emissions to meet our 2030 target.

We will:

  • work with our industry partners and the federal government to create the Ontario-made Emissions Performance Standards program for the 2023-2030 period. We will develop a program that encourages businesses to invest in innovation, infrastructure, technology and people, while also reducing emissions to meet our 2030 target.
  • complete Ontario’s first ever provincial-level, multi-sector climate change impact assessment to identify where the province is vulnerable to climate change. Understanding the impacts of climate change and identifying potential future impacts will help the province, municipalities, Indigenous communities and others make more informed decisions that can help prepare and protect communities and people.
  • continue to look at ways we can support the clean technology sector as part of our broader economic growth and recovery efforts

Reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill

We are keeping our neighbourhoods, parks, and waterways clean and free of litter and waste.

We will:

  • work with producers and the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority to ensure smooth implementation of Ontario’s new extended producer responsibility framework, including the transition of the blue box program to producer responsibility which starts on July 1, 2023.
  • continue to promote and educate, through the Day of Action on Litter and Waste Reduction Week, the impacts of litter and waste in the natural environment
  • continue to monitor the work of the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority as they develop, and implement on January 1, 2023, the new digital service to support hazardous waste program stakeholders to report their activities, which will help hold polluters accountable for the wastes they generate

Keeping our water safe and clean

We are ensuring our drinking water is safe to drink and that our lakes and waterways are protected.

We will:

  • continue implementing the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health, 2021 (COA) with a focus on building climate resilience, managing nutrients, reducing plastic pollution and excess road salt, improving wastewater and stormwater management, strengthening First Nations and Métis engagement in implementation, and completing all environmental clean-up actions in six degraded Areas of Concern
  • launch the projects under the Great Lakes Program Integrated Workplan to undertake projects that meet commitments outlined in COA, Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy and the Great Lakes Protection Act, 2015
  • complete the review and update of Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy, considering input from members of the Great Lakes community
  • facilitate and co-chair the seventh Great Lakes Guardians’ Council meeting to encourage collaboration and coordination among Great Lakes partners and identify priorities for actions, share information and develop initiatives
  • continue implementing enhancements to Ontario’s water taking program and making water quantity data and easy-to-understand and science-based content available online to help improve water quantity management in Ontario
  • expand the Bypass and Overflow Portal of the Environmental Compliance Hub Ontario system to more municipalities to make reporting sewage bypass and overflow incidents faster and to enable safe and effective management of stormwater and wastewater
  • finalize results of the 10-year review of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan and determine if the plan needs to be amended as we continue to protect and restore the lake
  • launch projects under the Lake Simcoe Program workplan to undertake projects that implement actions in the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan
  • review our Provincial Water Quality Objectives to ensure consistent protective benchmarks are used across the province
  • support the work to develop and complete the implementation plan to remediate contaminated sediments in the St. Clair River
  • invest in the delivery of water and wastewater services by the Ontario Clean Water Agency, as it continues to provide emergency and operational support to municipalities, First Nation communities, institutions and private sector companies
  • continue to provide in-kind technical support to on-reserve First Nation communities to help resolve Long-Term Drinking Water Advisories (LTDWAs), in collaboration with the Walkerton Clean Water Centre and the Ontario Clean Water Agency, and promote the long-term sustainability of water and wastewater systems
  • consider approaches, including exploring use of best management practices to reduce excessive application of salt on private roads, sidewalks and parking lots to protect human health and the environment
  • sustain the COVID‑19 Wastewater Surveillance Initiative by continuing wastewater tests and samples in communities across the province
  • continue to deliver on the innovative wastewater and stormwater programs, including:
    • total of $15 million to support municipalities to improve the management of Lake Ontario wastewater and stormwater discharges
    • total of $10 million to provide support for wastewater monitoring and public reporting to improve transparency around monitoring and public reporting of sewage overflows and bypasses from municipal systems in the Great Lakes
  • invest in a new phosphorus recycling facility in the Holland Marsh, which will help reduce phosphorus discharges from the Holland River into Lake Simcoe
  • update policies related to municipal wastewater and stormwater management

Protecting our air

To protect our air and maintain strong environmental standards, we will:

  • continue our work with the public, municipalities, Indigenous communities, environmental groups and industry to drive strategies that better protect air quality and address unique challenges in communities by creating tailored solutions
  • invest in state-of-the-art air monitoring equipment that will improve local air monitoring and inform compliance efforts
  • publish the next Air Quality in Ontario Report (2020 data). The 2020 report marks 50 years of reporting on air quality in Ontario.
  • continue working with industry, First Nations and other partners on the Sarnia Area Environment Health Project to assess the risk of air pollution in the Sarnia area
  • finalize integration and transfer of the heavy diesel vehicle emissions inspection with the Ministry of Transportation’s safety inspection program into a single digital program, called DriveON

Protecting natural spaces and species

Supporting conservation efforts and preserving Ontario’s rich biodiversity is a key pillar of our environment plan.

We will:

  • explore the creation of the first new operating provincial park in 40 years. The new park would provide visitors with more camping and other overnight accommodations, as well as a variety of improved recreational opportunities.
  • partner with the private sector to find innovative ideas for new recreation experiences at provincial parks, while enhancing existing programs and services to improve Ontario Parks for all visitors
  • provide up to $4.5 million in funding through the Species at Risk Stewardship Program to support non-profit organizations, Indigenous communities and other stakeholder groups who are working to help protect and recover species at risk and their habitat through local projects
  • develop an online system to speed up and digitize the Endangered Species Act, 2007 permit applications and authorization process
  • support additional wetland enhancement and restoration projects in priority areas of Ontario through the Wetlands Conservation Partner Program with new partners, as part of a $30 million investment over 5 years
  • continue to invest in Ontario’s land conservation efforts by providing partially matched funding to land trusts for the purchase of new privately-owned protected areas, their management and restoration, as part of a $20 million investment over 4 years
  • contribute $4 million to the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Hastings Wildlife Junction project to protect 8,000 hectares of land in Hastings
  • work with the Government of Canada to undertake actions that support the maintenance and recovery of self-sustaining local populations of boreal caribou in Ontario, as part of the conservation agreement for boreal caribou
  • reinvest in the Ontario Community Environment Fund (OCEF) by making available more than $1.5 million in funds collected from environmental penalties to support projects that improve the environment and give people opportunities to experience nature, such as tree planting or increasing naturalized areas for habitat improvement
  • build on past provincial park expansion initiatives, starting with a proposal to designate Ostrander Crown Land Block and Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area, two ecologically significant areas along the southern shore of Prince Edward County, as a conservation reserve, as well as a proposal to designate the Alfred Bog as a new approximately 3,000 hectare provincial park to ensure the long-term protection of a key wetland and the health of local wildlife

Holding polluters accountable

We are working to strengthen the province’s compliance and enforcement tools to hold polluters accountable and ensure compliance with environmental laws.

We will:

  • continue to carry out compliance promotion, inspections, audits, investigations and prosecutions to support compliance through risk-based regulatory programs that assess legal requirements and emerging issues and continue to address non-compliance using compliance and enforcement tools to ensure the protection of the environment and human health
  • continue work on compliance initiatives, including proposed odour guideline, proposed expansion of administrative penalties and proposed updates to the ministry’s compliance policy

Supporting infrastructure development while ensuring environmental protection

Our government is balancing strong environmental oversight with modernizing review processes, ensuring priority projects are built faster.

We will:

  • review comments on a draft regulation that sets out projects that will be subject to the comprehensive environmental assessment requirements in the revised Environmental Assessment Act and identifies the types of projects that would be subject to the streamlined environmental assessment provisions of the amended Act for certain sectors including electricity, waste and transit/rail. The project list approach is a key component of the transformational change required to modernize the environmental assessment program.
  • extend the expiry date for Environmental Assessment Act approvals for several infrastructure projects by 10 years. By providing an extension for these projects, we are allowing important infrastructure projects to be built without delay to support our province’s growing communities and economic recovery.
  • release updated brownfields guidance documents so property owners and qualified professionals have a clearer understanding of provincial requirements and expectations to help redevelop contaminated sites faster, while still being protective of human health and the environment
  • finalize changes to the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (EA) to conditionally exempt low-risk, routine municipal projects including road, water and wastewater projects from requiring an environmental assessment, which will better align assessment requirements with potential environmental impact. These exemptions will also reduce duplication and streamline the process for municipal projects, while maintaining strong environmental oversight and protection.
  • develop and consult on a proposal for a streamlined assessment regulation for municipal infrastructure that will eventually replace the Class EA for Municipal Infrastructure
  • develop and consult on amendments to the Deadlines Regulation (O. Reg. 616/98) to improve timelines for Comprehensive Environmental Assessments and increase transparency and accountability for meeting them
  • incorporate thresholds in the environmental assessment regulation for waste projects that will be used for determining the environmental assessment requirements for advanced recycling facilities
  • issue the first Consolidated Linear Infrastructure approvals to municipalities, eliminating the need for individual “pipe-by-pipe” approvals. This will save them time and allow infrastructure projects to begin sooner.

2022–23 strategic plan

Through commitments in the environment plan, the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks is taking action to ensure the right balance between a healthy environment and a healthy economy and looking at new, smarter solutions and modern ways to support communities and businesses.

Our efforts align with the government’s ongoing work to restore sustainability to the province’s finances and make programs and services more effective and efficient, while maintaining Ontario’s high standards to keep people safe and healthy, increase resiliency to climate change and protect the environment.

The ministry’s 2022–23 Strategic Plan focuses on three main objectives:

  • Continuing to protect, restore and enhance our environment based on the actions and commitments in our environment plan
  • Maintaining a sustainable long-term multi-year plan
  • Making sure Ontario Parks has the business tools it needs to deliver a world class experience.

The ministry will also continue to work on modernizing and transforming programs, such as streamlining permissions for projects and activities where environmental risks are low and/or well understood. Through collaboration with our colleagues and our clients, the ministry continues to explore other sectors and activities that may be suitable for a streamlined permissions approach and to encourage opportunities for innovation.

In the year ahead, we will continue to focus on implementing our transformation plan and finding efficiencies that leverage technology and streamline processes while maintaining core business that ensures strong environmental protection to safeguard the province’s air, land, water and climate.

Table 1: Ministry planned expenditures 2022–23
ItemAmount ($M)
MECP COVID‑19 approvals24.7
MECP other operating321.6
MECP capital51.2
MECP total397.5
Ontario Clean Water Agency operating233.8
Special purpose account for Ontario Parks116.0
Ontario Infrastructure and Lands Corporation(1.2)
General real estate portfolio operating(14.1)
Ontario Clean Water Agency capital4.7
Consolidated total736.6

Note: Including statutory appropriations, consolidation and other adjustments (not including assets). Numbers may not add due to rounding.

Detailed financial information

Table 2: Combined operating and capital summary by vote
Change from estimates
2021–22footnote 1
Interim actuals
2021–22footnote 1
2020–21footnote 1

Operating expense

Ministry administration program55,068,4005,106,10010.249,962,30057,181,90054,935,548
Environmental policy26,132,4004,858,400)(15.7)30,990,80029,417,80029,154,305
Environmental sciences and standards42,421,700(1,943,800)(4.4)44,365,50041,141,00040,491,987
Environmental compliance and operations117,577,50015,359,20015.0102,218,300105,892,70090,158,922
Environmental assessment and permissions29,997,6001,426,2005.028,571,40029,167,20029,127,939
Climate change and resiliency14,848,900(919,600)(5.8)15,768,50014,241,90012,049,070
Land and water60,207,800156,8000.360,051,00065,894,60055,366,611
Total operating expense to be voted346,254,30014,326,5004.3331,927,800342,937,100311,284,382
Statutory appropriations68,314N/AN/A68,314149,61465,968
Ministry total operating expense346,322,61414,326,5004.3331,996,114343,086,714311,350,350
Consolidation adjustments — Ontario Clean Water Agency233,761,40014,030,2006.4219,731,200218,185,600207,942,271
Consolidation adjustment — special purpose account for Ontario Parks116,030,40017,392,70017.698,637,700114,006,60093,768,406
Consolidation adjustment — Ontario Infrastructure and Lands Corporation(1,241,900)24,300)2.0(1,217,600)(1,217,600)N/A
Consolidation Adjustment — Algonquin Forest AuthorityN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A(302,469)
Consolidation adjustment — general real estate portfolio(14,142,600)(3,486,100)32.7(10,656,500)(10,949,500)(13,216,787)
Total including consolidation & other adjustments680,729,91442,239,0006.6638,490,914663,111,814599,541,771

Operating assets

Ministry administration program1,000N/AN/A1,000135,000N/A
Total operating assets to be voted1,000N/AN/A1,000135,000N/A
Ministry total operating assets1,000N/AN/A1,000135,000N/A

Capital expense

Ministry Administration Program1,000N/AN/A1,0001,000N/A
Environmental policy1,000N/AN/A1,0001,0005,250,000
Environmental sciences and standards1,636,000N/AN/A1,636,0001,975,0002,251,737
Environmental compliance and operations492,000488,00012,200.04,0001,431,600N/A
Environmental assessment and permissions801,500800,50080,050.01,000290,500N/A
Climate Change and Resiliency1,000N/AN/A1,0001,000N/A
Land and water34,262,9005,115,20017.529,147,70029,255,70015,912,168
Total capital expense to be voted37,195,4006,403,70020.830,791,70032,955,80023,413,905
Statutory appropriations13,988,300489,8003.613,498,50011,919,80010,640,116
Ministry total capital expense51,183,7006,893,50015.644,290,20044,875,60034,054,021
Consolidation adjustments — Ontario Clean Water Agency4,666,80095,3002.14,571,5004,667,7003,403,185
Consolidation adjustments — general real estate portfolioN/A1,000,000(100)(1,000,000)(661,000)(1,050,418)
Total including consolidation & other adjustments55,850,5007,988,80016.747,861,70048,882,30036,406,788

Capital assets

Ministry Administration Program504,000503,00050,300.01,0001,000N/A
Environmental sciences and standards11,365,000N/AN/A11,365,0001,365,0001,542,719
Environmental compliance and operations451,000450,00045,000.01,00014,9005,174,567
Environmental assessment and permissions1,000N/AN/A1,0001,000N/A
Land and water16,551,8003,067,30022.713,484,5008,618,9009,911,889
Total capital assets to be voted28,872,8004,020,30016.224,852,50010,000,80016,629,175
Statutory AppropriationsN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Ministry total capital assets28,872,8004,020,30016.224,852,50010,000,80016,629,175
Ministry total operating and capital including consolidation and other adjustments (not including assets)736,580,41450,227,8007.3686,352,614711,994,114635,948,559

Historic trend analysis data

Historic trend table
Historic trend analysis dataActuals
2019–20footnote 2
2020–21footnote 2
2021–22footnote 2
Ministry total operating and capital including consolidation and other adjustments (not including assets)$614,030,852$635,948,559$686,352,614$736,580,414
Percent change (%)N/A487

For additional financial information, see:

Agencies, boards and commissions (ABCs)

Agencies, boards and commissions (ABCs)
Agencies, boards and commissionsDescriptionEstimates
Interim actuals
Advisory Council on Drinking Water Quality and Testing StandardsProvides technical and scientific advice and recommendations related to standards for drinking water quality and testing.42,00012,61121,066
Committee on the Status of Species at RiskAn independent committee of experts considers which plants and animals should be listed as at risk.30,00024,70821,623
Lake Simcoe Science & Coordinating CommitteesProvide advice on issues related to the Lake Simcoe watershed, and implementation of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan.7,0003,1001,975
Ontario Parks Board of DirectorsProvides advice to the Minister about planning, managing and developing the provincial park and conservation reserves system.3,00000
Species at Risk Program Advisory CommitteeThe Committee makes recommendations to the Minister on matters that relate to the implementation of the province’s species at risk program.6,00000
York Region Wastewater Advisory PanelProvides confidential advice to the Government on options to address wastewater servicing capacity needs in the upper parts of York Region, for a period not exceeding twelve (12) months.427,900footnote 3130,0000

Note: Detailed financial information for Ontario Clean Water Agency and Walkerton Clean Water Centre is provided in their Business Plans.

Note: The Species Conservation Action Agency is expected to be operational later in 2022–23, detailed financials forthcoming in their annual business case expected in 2023.

Key performance indicators and achievements

Key performance indicators and achievements
Key performance indicatorsTarget2016–17
Achievement of greenhouse gas emissions targetsfootnote 430% below 2005 baseline year — by 203021% below 2005 (based on 2016 data from 2022 NIR)22% below 2005 (based on 2017 data from 2022 NIR)18% below 2005 (based on 2018 data from 2022 NIR)19% below 2005 (based on 2019 data from 2022 NIR)27% below 2005 (based on 2020 data from 2022 NIR)Data not available at time of publication
Decreased amount of waste disposed per capitafootnote 5Decrease in amount of waste disposed per capita each year586 kg of waste per person in Ontariofootnote 6579 kg of waste per person in Ontariofootnote 6594 kg of waste per person in Ontariofootnote 6586 kg of waste per person in Ontariofootnote 6footnote 6Data not available at time of publicationfootnote 7
Improved ambient air qualityA value of 100% or less by March 31, 2021, which means that ambient pollutant levels in Ontario are equal to or lower than the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS) for ozone, fine particulate matter and sulphur dioxide103%104%104%100%101%footnote 8101%footnote 8
Improved ecological health of Lake SimcoeMinimum 7 mg/L of dissolved oxygen in Lake Simcoe at end of summer in each yearmg/L5.5 mg/L6.5 mg/L6.2 mg/L5.9 mg/L4.0 mg/Lfootnote 9
Ensuring high quality drinking water. Maintaining or increasing the percentage of drinking water test results from municipal residential systems that meet the Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards (O. Reg. 169/03)The KPI target value is 99.75%, on par with the 2004-05 baseline value of 99.74%, to ensure that the Ministry continues to maintain Ontario’s high standards for drinking water quality to protect human health99.84%99.84%99.87%99.85%99.87%Data not available at time of publication
Great Lakes Protection: Increase Restored Beneficial Uses in Great Lakes Areas of ConcernRestore 137 Beneficial Uses that have been identified as impaired across 17 Areas of Concern (AOC).

By 2025-2026, complete key actions to re-designate 20 Beneficial Uses from ‘impaired’ to ‘not impaired’.
Modernized requirements to increase efficiencies for businessesfootnote 10footnote 11Increasing efficiencies for businesses by modernizing and reducing unnecessary or duplicative requirements by at least 1% annually, and 25% reduction in the longer termN/AN/AN/A5%7%6%
Cost savings for businessesfootnote 10footnote 11$400Msavings across all ministries by March 31, 2022N/AN/A3.4M31.4M46.6M15.1M
Increasing administrative efficienciesA target value of 26% for Other Direct Operating Expense (ODOE) spending based on 2017–18; ODOE spending is steady each year and can be attributed to internal controls put in place to minimize discretionary spendingN/AN/AN/A25.74%23.35%19.90%
Annual visits to Ontario ParksA target value of 10.98Mvisitors by end of 2022, representing one million increase in visits compared to 201710.60M9.98M10.75M10.77M11.15M12.44M
Improved decision timelines for higher-risk environmental compliance approval applicationsfootnote 12For higher-risk environmental compliance approval applications received by the ministry after January 1, 2018, 85% of reviews will be completed within a one-year time periodN/AN/AN/A92%88%89%
Area of Ontario’s land regulated as a provincial park or conservation reserve9,794,641.41 ha of land regulated as a provincial park or conservation reserve by March 20229,790,545.979,793,553.419,793,553.419,793,553.419,793,553.419,794,641.85
The ministry is prepared to respond to emergencies in support of provincial operations under provincial response plans and for order in council responsibilities100% completion of meeting all annual requirements defined by EMO and requirements under the EMCPA. Report is a met/did not meet requirements100.00%93.70%100.00%100.00%100.00%100.00%

Legislation administered by the ministry

  • Adams Mine Lake Act, 2004
  • Cap and Trade Cancellation Act, 2018
  • Capital Investment Plan Act, 1993 (Par  IV re: Ontario Clean Water Agency only)
  • Clean Water Act, 2006
  • Conservation Authorities Act (together with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry)
  • Endangered Species Act, 2007
  • English and Wabigoon Rivers Remediation Funding Act, 2017
  • Environmental Assessment Act
  • Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993
  • Environmental Protection Act
  • Great Lakes Protection Act, 2015
  • Kawartha Highlands Signature Site Park Act, 2003
  • Lake Simcoe Protection Act, 2008
  • Keeping Polystyrene out of Ontario’s Lakes and Rivers Act, 2021
  • Ministry of the Environment Act
  • Ministry of Natural Resources Act (together with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry)
  • Municipal Water and Sewage Transfer Act, 1997
  • Nutrient Management Act, 2002 (together with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs)
  • Ontario Water Resources Act
  • Pesticides Act
  • Provincial Day of Action on Litter Act, 2019
  • Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006
  • Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016
  • Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002
  • Waste Diversion Transition Act, 2016
  • Water Opportunities Act, 2010 (except for Part II)
  • York Region Wastewater Act, 2021

Ministry organization chart

Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks — September 6, 2022.

The chart shows the following hierarchical structure with the top level assigned to the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks.

  • Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks — Honourable Jeff Yurek
    • Group of 10 government entities
      • Ontario Clean Water Agency
      • Walkerton Clean Water Centre
      • Species Conservation Action Agency
      • Advisory Council on Drinking Water Quality & Testing Standards
      • Ontario Parks Board of Directors
      • Committee On Status of Species At Risk Ontario
      • Species At Risk Program Advisory Committee
      • Lake Simcoe Coordinating Committee
      • Lake Simcoe Science Committee
      • York Region Wastewater Advisory Panel
    • Deputy Minister — S. Imbrogno
      • Communications Branch — C. Beckett
      • Legal Services Branch — J. Lipman (A)
      • Land and Resources Cluster — R. Passero
      • Resource Audit Branch — A. Piattella (A)
      • Environmental Policy Division — ADM — A. Pilla
        • Air Policy and Programs Branch — D. McDonald (A)
        • Strategic Policy and Partnership Branch — M. Stickings
        • Environmental Policy Branch — R. Kurtes
        • Program Management Branch — T. Gavin (A)
        • Resource Recovery Policy Branch — C. O’Hara
      • Climate Change and Resiliency Division — ADM — A. Wood
        • Climate Change Policy Branch — P. Fancott
        • Climate Change Programs and Partnerships Branch — F. Abdulrasul (A)
        • Adaptation & Resilience Branch — H. Pearson (A)
        • Financial Instruments Branch — T. Johnson (A)
        • Environmental Economics Branch —  S. Beaton
      • Land and Water Division — ADM — C. Stuart
        • Ontario Parks — J. Travers
        • Species at Risk Branch — S. Ecclestone
        • Great Lakes & Inland Waters Branch — C. O’ Neill (A)
        • Conservation and Source Protection Branch — K. Corrigal
      • Environmental Sciences and Standards Division — ADM — O. Salamon
        • Environmental Monitoring and Reporting Branch — C. Carr
        • Technical Assessment & Standards Development Branch — J. Schroeder
        • Laboratory Services Branch — J. Odumeru
      • Environmental Assessment and Permissions Division — ADM — L. Trevisan (A)
        • Client Services & Permissions Branch — H. Malcolmson (A)
        • Environmental Permissions Branch — T. Gebrezghi A)
        • Environmental Assessment Branch — K. O’ Neill
        • Environmental Assessment — A. Cross (A)
      • Drinking Water & Environmental Compliance Division — ADM / Chief Drinking Water Inspector — S. Carrasco (A)
        • Southwest Region — S. Sumbal
        • Divisional Compliance Branch — J. Hudebine
        • Strategic Delivery Branch — K. Puhlmann (A)
        • West Central Region — L. Hussain
        • Northern Region — J. Williamson
        • Environmental Investigations and Enforcement Branch — M. Evers
        • Central Region —  R. Fletcher (A)
        • Eastern Region — P. Taylor (A)
        • Waste Water Surveillance Project — T. North (A)
      • Corporate Management Division — ADM / Chief Administrative Officer — S. Tao
        • Information Management and Access Branch — B. Gildner (A)
        • Business & Fiscal Planning Branch — M. Edwards (A)
        • Science Complex Capital Project Office — M. Hylton (A)
        • Strategic Human Resources Branch — J. LeGris
        • Emergency Management & Corporate Projects Office — O. Silva (A)

Appendix: 2021–2022 Annual report

2021–22 Results

In 2021, our government marked the third anniversary of the environment plan, a blueprint to protecting and conserving our environment, addressing climate change and ensuring that Ontario’s natural beauty could be enjoyed for generations to come. Since the release of the plan, significant opportunities and challenges have emerged, such as the wide-reaching impacts of the COVID‑19 pandemic, as well as new innovations and technologies. As a result, we continued to evolve our plan to address the environmental priorities of Ontarians as new information, ideas and innovations emerge.

In working with our partners, communities, organizations and industry, we have been able to achieve significant progress on our priority initiatives and risen to meet new challenges. We remain focused on balancing a healthy economy and healthy environment and keeping Ontario clean and beautiful for future generations.

OVID‑19 response

Since first learning of COVID‑19, Ontario has taken decisive action to contain the spread of this virus.

To support government actions to keep Ontarians safe during this time and ensure continuity of operations, in 2021–22 the ministry quickly responded with a number of measures, such as:

  • Testing wastewater for COVID‑19 at more locations, including municipal wastewater treatment plants as well as in some long-term care and retirement homes, shelters, hospitals, correctional facilities and post-secondary residences, as part of the Wastewater Surveillance Initiative (WSI). Together with clinical and public health data, wastewater monitoring has helped local public health units across the province identify the virus in communities, to enable more timely decisions about how and where to mobilize resources in response. A Data and Visualization Hub has also been established to house the wastewater analytical data collection and visualization products. Data access, subject to Terms of Use, are provided to Public Health Units, municipalities, provincial and federal decision-makers in order to make informed public health decisions.
  • Streamlining hazardous waste regulatory requirements for the handling and management of waste generated from Antigen Screening Testing to encourage businesses to participate in the Provincial Antigen Screening Program to ensure businesses can open in a safe manner.
  • Developing guidance materials to support businesses on the safe handling and management of the waste generated. The guidance provides best management practices for businesses who typically do not manage hazardous waste to ensure clear expectations are communicated to those businesses.
  • Providing immediate relief for over 300 resource-based tourism businesses located in provincial parks and conservation reserves by temporarily reducing and deferring certain license and land use fees for 2021.
  • Enacted regulatory changes to give the ministry and drinking water systems the tools they need to act quickly to help ensure the province’s drinking water and waterways are protected during an emergency, such as providing systems with temporary staffing options, and operators with temporary relief from training and certification requirements.
  • The various provincial and regional orders or restrictions by implementing safety measures at provincial parks, including limiting camping and recreational activities available as appropriate to keep visitors and staff safe, and support compliance with the restrictions.
  • Assessing the impacts of the COVID‑19 pandemic on air quality in Ontario using data collected at our comprehensive network of air monitoring stations across the province.

These temporary actions were taken to support physical distancing and ensure operations could continue and goods and services could be delivered to the people of Ontario, without compromising health, safety or the environment.

Progress to date

With the support of our community organizations, industry and other partners, we have made considerable progress on our commitments. The actions below illustrate how our accomplishments over the past year have contributed towards addressing our environmental priorities.

Addressing climate change

To address climate change, we continue to find effective and affordable ways to slow down climate change and build more resilient communities to prepare for its effects.

We have:

  • launched Ontario’s Emissions Performance Standards for 2022 to ensure large, industrial emitters are accountable for their greenhouse gas emissions
  • worked with industries to support their efforts to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by reducing and phasing out the use of coal in their operations. For example, together with our partners at the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, the province committed to investing up to $500 million in ArcelorMittal Dofasco to help the company replace its coal-fed coke ovens and blast furnaces with Ontario’s first low-emission hydrogen-ready Direct Reduced Iron-fed and Electric Arc Furnace. This will result in significant CO2 emission reductions; about three million tonnes a year — the same as taking almost 1 million cars off the road.
  • worked with the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry and Ministry of Energy to secure a major investment in clean steelmaking technology in Sault Ste. Marie, which will lead to substantial reduction in greenhouse gases — removing an additional three million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions
  • contributed to the development, with the Ministry of Energy, of Ontario’s first-ever low-carbon hydrogen strategy, which will create jobs and support economic recovery while reducing our greenhouse gas emissions
  • created a working group to provide advice and recommendations to inform the development of Ontario’s hydrogen strategy
  • changed Ontario’s alternative low-carbon fuels regulation to simplify the approvals process for manufacturers of cement, lime, iron and steel, to make it easier to substitute the use of coal and petroleum coke with fuels derived from materials that would otherwise be disposed in landfills
  • as part of the nineth Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health, committed to working with communities around the Great Lakes to promote the use of adaptive management tools and to identify best practices to enhance their resilience to climate change impacts, as well as increasing their ability to implement these tools
  • continued to support the first-ever provincial level, multi-sector climate change impact assessment to identify where the province is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change
  • provided secretariat support for an advisory panel on climate change that provided the minister with expert advice on the implementation of the province’s climate change actions, especially on how Ontario can prepare for the costs and impacts of climate change
  • issued $9.45 billion in green bonds to help finance public transit initiatives, extreme-weather resistant infrastructure, and energy efficiency and conservation projects.
  • selected 12 youth from across the province to join Ontario’s Youth Environment Council, which provided members the opportunity to share their insights and ideas on how to address climate change and other environmental issues

Reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill

Ontario is committed to reducing litter and waste in our communities and keeping our land and soil clean.

We made the following progress on the transition to the producer responsibility model:

  • reinvented our Blue Box program to make producers of products and packaging fully responsible for managing the life-cycle of their products
  • finalized a new regulation to make producers of hazardous and special products environmentally accountable and financially responsible for their products at end of life. The changes will help ensure that hazardous and special products such as paints, solvents, pesticides, oil filters, antifreeze, oil containers, and pressurized containers are properly and safely collected and managed by producers.
  • consulted on an administrative penalties regulation to help ensure compliance with all the producer responsibility regulations
  • consulted on amendments to existing producer responsibility regulations for tires, batteries and electrical and electronic equipment to reduce burden, correct market issues, increase transparency, align administrative and technical provisions between the regulations and remove outdated provisions
  • worked with Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to make changes to a regulation under the Nutrient Management Act, 2002, and create a new revenue stream for the agriculture sector to make renewable natural gas from farm waste right at the source. The changes allow for larger on-farm, anaerobic digestion projects that generate biogas used to produce renewable natural gas, to be approved more easily and with less cost to ensure that Ontario continues to be a Canadian leader in the biogas sector.
  • consulted on hazardous waste regulations that would transition the delivery of hazardous waste digital reporting services to the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority. These changes would make reporting easier for the regulated community, while providing more timely, accurate information to the ministry, which will hold polluters accountable for the wastes they generate.
  • continued to engage stakeholders about actions they can take to reduce and encourage innovation in the processing and management of compostable products
  • continued to work with other provinces, territories, and the federal government on the development of an action plan to implement a Canada-wide plastics strategy, including single-use plastic waste
  • raised awareness about the impacts of litter and waste in our neighbourhoods, waterways and green spaces and encouraged participation in safe cleanups during Day of Action on Litter, Waste Free Wednesdays and Waste Reduction Week with members of your household

Keeping our water safe and clean

Our lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater are the foundation of Ontario’s economic prosperity and wellbeing. We have:

  • continued to protect Ontario’s drinking water:
    • The 2020–21 Chief Drinking Water Inspector’s Annual Report confirmed that Ontario’s drinking water systems continue to provide high-quality drinking water. The 2020–21 data shows that 99.9 per cent of more than 505,000 drinking water tests from municipal residential drinking water systems met Ontario’s strict, health-based drinking water standards.
    • The ministry and its agencies, the Walkerton Clean Water Centre and the Ontario Clean Water Agency, continued to provide First Nation communities across Ontario with access to provincial technical expertise and training upon request. As of March 31, 2022, 63 water and 17 wastewater assessments have been conducted at 59 First Nations communities.
      • During the pandemic the ministry’s Indigenous Drinking Water Programs Office has offered virtual guidance and support to communities on existing and new drinking water infrastructure.
      • The Ontario Clean Water Agency moved forward with the creation of a First Nation Advisory Circle to help government better understand the needs and priorities of First Nations communities.
      • To date, the Walkerton Clean Water Centre has trained 165 First Nation operators with their Entry-Level Course for Drinking Water Operators for First Nations; as well as 110 Chiefs, band councillors and leaders on their responsibilities in managing those systems.
  • consulted on the draft low-impact development stormwater management guidance manual to help municipalities, property owners, planners, developers and others to manage rain where it falls, reduce flooding risks and increase resiliency to climate change
  • consulted on a municipal wastewater and stormwater discussion paper that includes potential opportunities and approaches to improve municipal wastewater and stormwater management and promote water reuse in Ontario
  • sought input on a proposed subwatershed planning guide to help municipalities and other planning authorities with land use and infrastructure planning
  • advanced how water quantity and quality is managed in Ontario to make sure we have sustainable water resources now and in the future:
    • moved forward with enhancements to Ontario’s water taking program on April 1, 2021, including requiring water bottling companies to have the support of their host municipalities for new or increased groundwater takings in their communities
  • continued actions to protect source water, including:
    • finalized amendments to the technical rules for source protection plans under the Clean Water Act, 2006 to ensure the quality of Ontario’s drinking water continues to be protected and supported by current science
    • published best practices for source water protection, to help ensure communities and landowners in areas not covered by provincially approved source protection plans have the tools they need to protect their drinking water sources
    • continued implementing source protection plans under the Clean Water Act, 2006 by integrating source protection into other provincial programs, such as spills response, permits and approvals, and working groups addressing the impact of road salt
    • invested in building local capacity at source protection authorities (conservation authorities) through funding and guidance to support the maintenance of source protection committees and source protection plans
    • approved locally initiated amendments to source protection plans to keep them current and further protect sources of drinking water
  • invested in actions that will help protect and restore the Great Lakes:
    • continued to invest in Great Lakes projects run by conservation authorities, communities, organizations, universities and Indigenous peoples that are working to address commitments in the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health (COA), Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy and the Great Lakes Protection Act, 2015. These projects built on progress made as part of Ontario’s previous investment of $10.9 million in multi-year Great Lakes project funding from 2020–21.
    • completed 44 projects under the Great Lakes Local Action Fund and launched the second round, which would make an additional $1.9 million available to projects that demonstrate environmental benefits to the Great Lakes and their communities
  • continued federal-provincial collaboration in areas such as protecting and restoring the Great Lakes and Ontario’s inland waterways:
    • signed the nineth COA, which marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the first agreement in 1971 and sets out specific actions that each government will take as they work together to restore, protect and conserve the Great Lakes. Worked with Canada to implement the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement through COA. Ontario contributed expertise on numerous commitments including supporting Lake-wide Action and Management Plans helping to facilitate information sharing, set priorities and coordinate binational environmental protection and restoration work.
    • made progress on the Canada-Ontario Lake Erie Action Plan by working with municipalities to better manage wastewater and stormwater impacts, working with the agriculture sector on reducing phosphorus run-off, supporting wetland restoration in the Lake Erie watershed, and continuing to monitor and improve science
    • co-chaired the sixth Great Lakes Guardians’ Council meeting on April 22, 2021, with then Grand Council Chief Glen Hare of Anishinabek Nation. The meeting included productive dialogues with First Nations, Métis, conservation and environmental stakeholders, academia and industry representatives about how to collectively protect the Great Lakes and tackle the challenges facing our water resources.
    • invested $11.1 million in the Randle Reef Sediment Remediation Project, a significant step towards delisting Hamilton Harbour as a Great Lakes Area of Concern
  • continued to protect inland waters and vulnerable lakes, rivers and streams:
    • concluded the ministry’s 10-year review of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan. The review consisted of an online public survey and an option to submit feedback by email, two virtual engagement events, and meetings with stakeholder groups and Indigenous communities as well as with the minister’s Lake Simcoe Coordinating and Science Committees
    • invested over $1.79 million in multi-year funding for 12 new projects starting in March 2021 to improve our understanding of the complex stressors facing the Lake Simcoe watershed, and improve the ecological health of the lake, followed by approximately $273,000 in four additional projects by the end of 2021–22
    • participated on the English and Wabigoon Rivers Remediation Panel with Indigenous communities to fund pre-remediation and scientific assessment work to inform future remediation related to the mercury-contaminated sediment in the English and Wabigoon Rivers. Funds are distributed from the $85 million trust that was established under the English and Wabigoon Rivers Remediation Funding Act, 2017. As of March 31, 2022, the Panel has approved $31.5 million in funding, and of this, $25.9 million has been disbursed from the trust. This $25.9 million includes $10.9 million for panel participation and capacity building, $14.2 million for pre-remediation scientific assessment and $850,000 for other remediation-related activities.
    • complete the implementation of the engineering and design plan to remediate contaminated sediments in the St. Clair River
    • as part of the Muskoka Watershed Initiative, invested approximately $5 million to further protect the health of the Muskoka River Watershed, including support for 19 projects that will help safeguard the region from new pressures such as increased development and flooding
    • renewed partnerships with District Municipality of Muskoka and Federation of Cottagers’ Associations to support citizen science for inland lakes monitoring
  • supported Public Health Ontario’s Hamilton laboratory by analyzing hundreds of drinking water samples per month so Public Health Ontario can focus more on COVID‑19 clinical testing
  • continued consultations as part of the review of Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy and preparation for the upcoming release of the second Great Lakes Strategy Progress Report
  • continued to work with Conservation Authorities and Environment and Climate Change Canada to collect year-round water quality samples at the mouths of western Lake Ontario rivers to better understand water quality and nutrient levels in the rivers and along the shoreline that can be used as a benchmark to evaluate future change over this growing urban area
  • improved the ministry’s Inland Lakes Monitoring and Assessment Program to continue to protect vulnerable inland waters by working to understand environmental impacts to inland lakes such as road salt application and improving our understanding of how climate change will impact Ontario ecosystems.
  • held workshops to seek feedback to inform the development of road salt best management practices to help reduce the impacts of excessive salting on our natural environment and water resources
  • introduced changes that reduce regulatory burden for regulated industrial wastewater facilities, while maintaining the strong current level of oversight of the release of wastewater from these facilities to Ontario’s waterways. The changes provide these facilities with greater flexibility to make operational improvements by transferring regulatory requirements into existing Environmental Compliance Approvals to remove duplication and overlap.

Protecting our air

We are committed to protecting our air, ensuring we have strong environmental standards that are protective of human health and the environment, and taking action to enforce local air quality standards.

We have:

  • released the 2019 Air Quality Report which showed that overall, air quality in Ontario has improved over time as both ambient concentrations of common air pollutants and emissions to air have decreased
  • continued to implement a strategy to address industrial emissions (such as the Sarnia Air Action Plan and the Hamilton Air Action Plan) which includes enhanced oversight of industrial facilities, including:
    • enhanced inspections
    • reactive incident response
    • monitoring
    • communication with local stakeholders
  • continued with the Sarnia Area Environmental Health Project to help address community concerns about air pollution and other environmental stressors in the Sarnia area, including meeting with local communities to share updates and answer questions about the project
  • made a regulation to ensure nickel smelting and refining facilities in Sudbury plan to:
    • reduce their sulphur dioxide emissions
    • improve air quality management within their plants
  • made a regulation for petroleum facilities that will hold heavy emitters accountable and reduce sulphur dioxide emissions.
  • worked with Michigan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Canadian government on a collaborative study to improve our understanding of ozone formation (a key ingredient in smog) in southern Ontario and the transboundary flow of ozone from the United States into Ontario (and vice versa)
  • continued to deliver our Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) with Environment and Climate Change Canada through a network of 38 ambient air quality monitoring stations across the province to measure and track common air pollutants and provide the public with real-time air pollutant data
  • continued to operate a roadside air monitoring network in Toronto in partnership with the University of Toronto and Environment and Climate Change Canada to better understand traffic-related air pollution in highly urbanized environments
  • continued to take action to reduce industrial benzene emissions with the implementation of best available technology and practices in the Petroleum Refining and Petrochemical technical standards. The technical standards aim to reduce health and environmental risks and exposure to emissions in local communities by requiring registered facilities to implement best available technologies and practices to reduce benzene air emissions and improve air quality over time.

Protecting natural spaces and species

We are committed to protecting the natural spaces across Ontario, such as forests, wetlands and parks that purify our air and water, protect biodiversity and natural heritage, provide recreational opportunities and support Indigenous traditional practices.

We have:

  • provided free day-use at over 110 provincial parks where fees are collected from Mondays to Thursdays throughout summer 2021, making it easier for Ontarians to get outdoors and enjoy nature
  • launched the advance daily vehicle permit service at 17 select provincial parks across the province, giving visitors greater certainty when planning park visits by offering guaranteed access to those parks
  • expanded provincial parks and conserved land, including Turkey Point Provincial Park and Beaver River Conservation Area, to help protect the province’s biodiversity and provide new opportunities for Ontarians to enjoy the great outdoors
  • rolled out the new Ontario Parks online store, which will make popular Ontario Parks branded merchandise like toques, hoodies and stickers available for sale year-round
  • provided nearly $4.5 million in funding through the Species at Risk Stewardship Program to support non-profit organizations, Indigenous communities and other stakeholder groups who are working to help protect and recover species at risk and their habitat through local projects
  • consulted on and finalized a series of regulatory proposals to implement recent legislative changes to conservation authorities. These changes will improve the governance, oversight and accountability of conservation authorities, while respecting taxpayer dollars by giving municipalities more say over the conservation authority services they pay for.
  • provided online tools to extend the reach of Ontario Parks Discovery Education programs
  • supported the Earth Rangers, a youth-focused conservation organization dedicated to educating children and their families about biodiversity, protecting animals and their habitats
  • established the Protected Areas Working Group to identify opportunities to protect more areas in the province and how public-private partnerships can be used to help support Ontario’s conservation efforts
  • established the new Species Conservation Action Agency and Species at Risk Conservation Fund as part of our continued effort to make our species at risk program more effective. This agency will have expertise to invest the fund in strategic, large-scale, and coordinated actions that will support more positive outcomes for select species at risk.
  • expanded certain existing conditional exemptions as part of our continued effort to make our species at risk program more effective, while increasing certainty and streamlining authorizations for businesses, municipalities and individuals
  • continued to support conservation and environmental planning by collecting information on greenhouse gas emissions and carbon storage in the Hudson Bay Lowlands, a globally significant wetland and carbon store

Holding polluters accountable

Ontario is strengthening enforcement tools to hold polluters accountable to protect and preserve our air, land and water.

  • Launched a new user friendly and accessible online reporting tool for Ontarians to report and track instances of pollution in the province. The new digital solution means photos and videos can be uploaded immediately so staff can respond quickly and effectively to keep communities safe.
  • Engaged with stakeholders on the regulatory approach for the new administrative penalties framework and development of the draft regulations and guidance.
  • Reinvested nearly $900,000 in penalties paid by harmful polluters through the Ontario Community Environment Fund to support 17 community projects across the province that help protect and restore the environment.
  • Posted a decision notice for a sulphur dioxide (SO2) regulatory approach that will require petroleum facilities to reduce emissions. It will also lead to enhanced monitoring and reporting requirements and enable the ministry to impose environmental penalties for certain contraventions (e.g. for each contravention of an emission limit) to hold heavy emitters to account.
  • Issuing environmental penalties to encourage companies to prevent spills from happening and to clean them up quickly if they occur. In 2021–22, Ontario issued 16 environmental penalty orders for 31 violations, which total over $779,000.
  • Implemented measures to limit emissions from commercial trucks and buses through a new enhanced emissions testing program. The new integrated vehicle safety and emissions inspection program for heavy diesel vehicles, which will be delivered by the Ministry of Transportation, will reduce criteria air contaminants by tightening emissions standards (opacity), introducing on-board diagnostic inspections, and expanding on-road enforcement to eliminate tampering of emission components on heavy diesel vehicles.

Supporting infrastructure development while ensuring environmental protection

To modernize our review processes and reduce red tape, while ensuring that strong environmental oversight is maintained, we have:

  • finalized changes to Class Environmental Assessment for Waterpower Projects to build low-risk waterpower projects faster, such as expansions or changes to an existing facility. The changes will streamline new waterpower opportunities that can further contribute to the province’s clean, reliable and affordable energy future.
  • updated the environmental assessment requirements for certain transmission line projects, under the Environmental Assessment Act. These changes align with thresholds used by the Federal government for international electrical transmission lines. They also support transmission system expansions and access to lower carbon energy sources, facilitate economic growth and job creation in a variety of sectors and streamline the process for off-grid communities in the Far North to connect to the transmission network.
  • removed the need to obtain an Environmental Compliance Approval for certain low risk sewage works, such as foundation drainage from buildings, which are regulated under other municipal or provincial permissions. This reduces regulatory process duplications, supports efforts to create much needed housing supply in Ontario, boosts the province’s economy and supports job creation.
  • implemented the Consolidated Linear Infrastructure approach for municipal sewage and stormwater infrastructure projects, which will eliminate the need for municipalities to submit individual “pipe-by-pipe” applications. Under this new approach simple, routine low-risk changes, like extensions and replacements, can be pre-authorized to begin construction provided they maintain strong environmental oversight and protection.
  • consulted on the environmental assessment requirements for advanced recycling facilities under the Environmental Assessment Act to better support the use of innovative processes which reduces the need to use new natural resources and diverts waste from landfill
  • finalized 70 risk assessments so that high risk contaminated sites could be cleaned up and put back to economic use, after thorough reviews to help ensure the sites will be redeveloped in a manner that is protective of human health and the environment
  • filed 487 Record of Site Conditions to the Brownfields Environmental Site Registry to support brownfields redevelopment
Table 3: Ministry interim actual expenditures 2021–22
ItemAmountfootnote 13
COVID‑19 approvals8.8$M
Other operating654.5$M
Other Capital48.7$M
Staff strength — MECP (as of March 31, 2022)footnote 142066.9
Staff strength — Ontario Clean Water Agency (as of March 31, 2020)footnote 14901.29