TORONTO – As the world receives an urgent global assessment report from the United Nations on the imminent collapse of the natural world, Ontario is abandoning endangered species. Buried within Bill 108, More Homes More Choice Act, an omnibus bill, are 20 pages of amendments to the Endangered Species Act.

“The natural world is buckling under the weight of our human footprint,” says Janet Sumner, Executive Director for Wildlands League. “And Ontario is doubling down on that footprint with reckless changes to gut protections for endangered species,” Sumner added.

“The government says they are reducing duplication with this bill but there is no law that duplicates what the Endangered Species Act is intended to do,” says Anna Baggio, Director of Conservation Planning for Wildlands League. “This bill will accelerate the decline of species in order to expedite housing, forestry, and other developments in the province. This is not a trade-off Canadians are comfortable with and nor should they be,” Baggio said.

If enacted as proposed,  Bill 108 would lead to significant delays and uncertainty regarding listing of species at risk, provide for more exceptions and mechanisms for escaping the prohibitions, severely limit the government’s actions to protect and recover species at risk, and provide for lots of discretion, while also removing requirements that the Minister consult with species experts. Contrary to what the government states, it is no longer focused on protecting and recovering species at risk in Ontario; the achievement of “overall benefit” is effectively abandoned.

The amendments would also allow proponents to harm some species at risk in exchange for benefitting others (through landscape agreements) and create a mechanism where proponents can pay a regulatory charge in lieu of meeting conditions on a permit designed to protect and recover species or its habitat.

The previous government began the work of undoing legal protections for threatened wildlife by exempting many harmful industrial activities from complying with core provisions of the Endangered Species Act, 2007. With Bill 108, the new Ontario government is finishing the job by sacrificing endangered species, watershed protection and ecosystems for increased housing, and other commercial and industrial developments in the province.

Wildlands League calls on all MPPs to reject Schedule 5 (the schedule containing amendments to the Endangered Species Act) in Bill 108.

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