In January, the Government of Ontario initiated a review of the province’s Endangered Species Act (ESA). The stated intent of the review is to “improve protections for species at risk, consider modern and innovative approaches to achieve positive outcomes for species at risk, as well as to look for ways to streamline approvals and provide clarity to support economic development.” However, the government’s discussion paper on the review [LINK to: ERO #013-4143 Review of the Endangered Species Act, 2007] seems to place much more emphasis on streamlining approvals and providing clarity for economic development than on the core purpose of the legislation, which is to identify species at risk, protect endangered species and their habitats, and promote strategies and stewardship activities that advance species recovery.
The review, which is framed as a response to “barriers to economic development” associated with the ESA, includes a number of troubling options that could undermine the very cornerstones of the law, including listing of species based on science (including Indigenous Traditional Knowledge), mandatory habitat protection, and legislated timelines for planning and reporting. Freshwater Future is one of over 35 organizations endorsing a formal submission to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks on the ESA discussion paper developed by Ontario Nature, the David Suzuki Foundation, and Environmental Defence. We believe the recommendations outlined in the submission will be critical to ensuring the protection and recovery of species at risk and the habitats and aquatic ecosystems they depend on to thrive and survive. You can read the full comment here.