Ontario Water News

July 2018: Stay Informed – Recent Development in Policy, Regulations, and Programs

At WaterTAP, we’re closely watching policy, regulatory, and program developments related to Ontario’s water sector. Here are some recent updates that may be relevant to your organization:

Provincial

Election 2018: Doug Ford, leader of the Ontario PC Party, was elected Premier of Ontario, replacing Kathleen Wynne. He was sworn in on June 29, along with new ministers. For a list of new Ministries and Ministers, see here, and for a list of new Parliamentary Assistants, see here.

Cap-and-Trade and Related Programs: The new Ontario government recently announced three priority areas under which it intends to introduce urgent legislation. One of these priorities includes dismantling the Ontario’s cap-and-trade program and preventing future government from imposing cap-and-trade or a carbon tax under the law. An immediate wind-down of programs funded by past cap-and-trade revenues has begun – see here for Green Ontario program cancellation details. The government will honour arrangements where contracts have already been signed and orders have already been made. Decisions to continue any specific initiatives currently supported by the fund will need to be paid by the tax base and will be made on a case-by-case basis in alignment with the Ford government’s Plan For the People and the upcoming value-for-money audit.

Trade: Premier Doug Ford met with Chrystia Freeland, federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, and David MacNaughton, Canada’s Ambassador to the United States, in June to discuss the ongoing NAFTA negotiations, as well as how Canada and Ontario will work together to protect jobs.

Drinking Water Legislation Updates: As of July 1, the Ontario government has enacted O. Reg. 205/18, under the Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002, governing new and existing residential drinking water systems in source protection areas. The regulation requires drinking water system owners to take steps in order to protect drinking water sources before applying for a work permit. A second regulation O. Reg. 206/18 was enacted on the same date under the Clean Water Act, 2006, and requires that a source protection authority identify the necessary updates to a source protection plan to ensure sources of drinking water are protected when municipalities implement a new, or alter their existing, drinking water system.

Quebec: Quebec launched a new provincial water strategy for 2018-2030 and its 2018-2023 action plan. The strategy outlines a suite of measures, including investments of more than $550 million and the establishment of the Quebec Water Council, which will democratize the management of water resources throughout the province.

Federal

Infrastructure Funding and Climate Change: As part of the Investing in Canada plan, applicants seeking federal funding for new major public infrastructure projects will now be asked to undertake an assessment of how their projects will contribute to or reduce carbon pollution, and to consider climate change risks in the location, design, and planned operation of projects. For details, see here.

Smart Cities Challenge Finalists: The Government of Canada announced the finalists of the Smart Cities Challenge. Launched in November 2017, the Smart Cities Challenge called for submissions from communities across the country to develop bold and ambitious ideas to improve the lives of their residents using data and connected technology. Twenty finalists have been selected to proceed to the next step of the Challenge. Each finalist community will receive $250,000 to help develop its final proposal. You can read about each finalists and their proposed projects here.

First Nations Data: The 2018 spring reports of Canada’s Auditor General were released in May. Report 5 details socio-economic gaps on First Nations reserves. The report’s findings show that Indigenous Services Canada is not taking full advantage of available data to assess community well-being, including information on water quality. You can access the full report here.

Fisheries Act: In June, Bill C-68 passed the Third Reading in the House of Commons and is now awaiting Senate approval. The Bill is intended to update the Fisheries Act, restoring protections that were lost with changes that were made in 2012. Key updates include stronger and expanded habitat protections for all fish, requiring actions to rebuild depleted fish stocks, and creation of a public registry to track projects that impact fish and fish habitat.

Discharge Reporting: Environment and Climate Change Canada is considering two changes to facility reporting of released of pollutants to water. The first is to develop an effluent volume reporting threshold to determine if a facility must report releases of National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) substances to water. The second is to add biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), chemical oxygen demand (COD), and total suspended solids (TSS) to the list of substances to be reported to NPRI. See here for more information.

Strontium: The Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water intends on developing a drinking water guideline and guideline technical document on strontium in drinking water. The Committee is proposing a maximum acceptable concentration of 7.0 mg/L for strontium in drinking water. Comments on the Guideline Technical Document are due on July 20. See here for the draft document and more information.

Great Lakes

ErieStat: The Great Lakes Commission recently launched ErieStat, a web-based platform for tracking progress toward the goal of a 40% reduction in phosphorus loads to the Western Lake Erie Basin. The website features dashboards track phosphorus control results in lakes, tributaries, and on land.