Ontario Federation of Agriculture Commentary
By Peggy Brekveld, OFA Vice President
Changes are being made to Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, and the government is welcoming comments on proposed revisions. This legislation impacts Ontario farmers who often deal with the habitats of many endangered, threatened and species of special concern on and around their farms. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is encouraging all members to review the proposed changes and participate in the online consultation process by the May 18 deadline.
Here’s what OFA wants farmers to know about the proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act:
· The Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks will require the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk (the organization that designates species at risk) to reconsider the classification of a species – this means a species classification could be adjusted based on new scientific information presented to government
· Species evaluations will be required to consider classification status beyond Ontario’s border and not rely solely on a species’ status in Ontario – something OFA has been advocating for in recent years
· Adjustments can be made to habitat protections, at the discretion of the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, allowing for temporary suspension of species classifications under certain circumstances
· Municipalities or other infrastructure developers may have the option to pay a charge in lieu of completing requirements of the act
The government’s process of open consultations on legislative changes offers all Ontarians the opportunity to add their voice to rules that impact their families, farms, businesses and environment. OFA encourages all Ontario farmers to review the proposed changes and provide feedback. This 10-year review of the Endangered Species Act is an opportunity to comment on how the proposed changes could impact your farm operation.
OFA will be sending a formal submission to address areas of the act that are subject to significant changes. These areas include assessing species at risk, implementing habitat protection, issuing permits, developing exemptions and the enforcement of the act.
OFA participated in the consultations that led up to the passing of the original Endangered Species Act in 2007 and continues to consult with government postings related to the act. This environmental legislation is designed to identify species at risk, protect their habitats and promote stewardship practices that will help protect these plant and animal species.
It’s our job to ensure any changes to the Endangered Species Act are considered through the lens of farmers and do not impede normal farming practices while protecting our environment and all species that live within it.
Submit your comments to the proposed changes on the Environmental Registry of Ontario website.