Ontario does little to protect species at risk from building and resource development: Auditor General

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TORONTO, 22 November 2021 / CNW / – Province fails to protect endangered species as required by Endangered Species Act, Auditor General Bonnie lyssyk said in her Annual report of environmental audits.

Development projects that may harm species at risk are automatically approved, according to the audit. “Department of Environment, Conservation and Parks staff have no guidance on when to reject potentially damaging permit applications and therefore they are still approved,” Lysyk said. “The department essentially facilitates development rather than protecting endangered species.

Since 2009, the number of approvals for development and other projects that harm protected species has increased by more than 6,000 percent. The number of species at risk increased by 22%.

The report also notes:

  • Changes in 2019 for from ontario the species classification criteria are incompatible with the scientific criteria of other provinces in Canada – and may lead to the loss of existing protections for certain species.
  • The Minister’s Species at Risk Advisory Committee is now dominated by industry representatives. Six members were appointed to the committee in 2019 and 2020 without the standard selection and recommendation process.
  • The number of species at risk has increased since 2009, but funding for the stewardship program has decreased by 10% during the same period.
  • Forest operations on Crown land are now exempt from the Endangered Species Act, despite the warning from the Ministry of the Environment that it could cause significant negative effects on 12 endangered or threatened species such as boreal caribou and Blanding’s turtle.
  • The province’s plans for species protection and recovery are generally less ambitious than what independent scientific experts recommend.

“Our audit found that in the absence of substantive measures, the condition of species at risk in Ontario will continue to deteriorate and other species will be added to the list, ”said Tyler schulz, Assistant Auditor General and Commissioner of the Environment at the Bureau. “Protecting these species is essential to reduce the loss of nature and its contributions to Ontarians, and to protect the environment and our economy.

This audit report includes 21 recommendations for improvement. In its responses to our audit recommendations, the Department of the Environment confirmed its lack of commitment to improving transparency and its programs and processes to protect species at risk.

The Office of the Auditor General is an independent office of the Legislative Assembly that conducts value-for-money and financial audits of the provincial government, its departments and agencies. We also audit broader public sector organizations that receive provincial funding. Our vision is to provide exceptional value and assurance to members of the Legislative Assembly, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and all Ontarians through high-quality work that promotes accountability, value for money and a effective governance in Ontario public sector.

SOURCE Office of the Auditor General of Ontario

For further information: Bonnie Lysyk, Auditor General, (647) 267-9263

Related links

www.auditeur.on.ca

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