Ontario Water News

September 2017: Stay Informed – Recent Developments in Policy, Regulation, 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

Minister Murray Departs: Glen Murray, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change has announced his resignation from provincial politics. He has joined the Pembina Institute as Executive Director. Chris Ballard, formerly Minister of Housing and Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy, has replaced Murray as Minister of the Environment and Climate Change. Peter Milczyn will take over for Minister Ballard.

Cutting Red Tape: Ontario has introduced the Cutting Unnecessary Red Tape Act, 2017. If passed, the Act would help build a smarter, more modern regulatory environment by rooting out unnecessary burdens and streamlining regulations. Proposed measures include reducing regulatory costs, streamlining compliance, aligning international and national standards, rewarding compliant businesses, and facilitating electronic transmission of documentation.

Building Code: The Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs is seeking stakeholder and public input on proposed changes to Ontario’s Building Code in a second phase of consultations. The consultation document and proposed Building Code changes are for potential inclusion in the next edition of the Building Code. Greywater reuse and water conservation have been considered in the proposed changes. Comments on proposed changes can be submitted to the Ministry until September 29.

Lake Simcoe: The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has released the Minister’s Annual Report on Lake Simcoe, 2016. The report mentions the implementation of environmental monitoring drones and remote sensing, issues with road salt, and low impact development for stormwater abatement.

Land Use Carbon Inventory: As part of Ontario’s Climate Change Action plan, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has announced support for the development of a Land Use Carbon Inventory that will allow Ontario to assess the potential of agriculture, forestry, and other land uses, such as wetlands and grasslands, to emit, remove, and store carbon.

Low Carbon Innovation Fund: This fund helps researchers, entrepreneurs and companies create and commercialize new, globally competitive, low-carbon technologies. Self-assessments and Expressions of Interest for the Technology Demonstration stream are due September 22.

Wetland Conservation: Ontario released its final Wetland Conservation Strategy. The strategy includes actions that capture more baseline data to assess wetlands, such as undertaking wetland inventory and mapping. The strategy also includes an evaluation framework to assess wetland significance that considers the biological, social, hydrological, and unique characteristics of a particular wetland. The strategy is posted on the Environmental Registry.

Federal

Cabinet Shuffle: The federal government has undergone a cabinet shuffle. The Ministry of Indigenous and Northern Affairs has been split into two ministries. The Minister of Indigenous Services, Jane Philpott, will oversee healthcare, clean drinking water, housing, and other well-being issues affecting Indigenous peoples. The Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett, will oversee the ending of the Indian Act. Other changes relevant to the water sector include a new Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Carla Qualtrough, and a new Minister of Health, Ginette Petitpas Taylor.

Economic Strategy Tables: The federal government has begun to form six Economic Strategy Tables as part of the Innovation and Skills Plan announced in Budget 2017. The tables will support innovation in advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital industries, health/bio-sciences, and clean resources. Each table will be chaired by industry leaders and will set ambitious growth targets, identify sector-specific challenges and bottlenecks, and lay out an actionable roadmap to achieve goals. Table chairs will be announced in coming weeks. Canadian are invited to provide input directly to the Economic Strategy tables.

Digital Government: The federal government has launched the Canadian Digital Service (CDS), charged with modernizing the way the Government of Canada design and delivers digital services. At the provincial level, Ontario has released an “alpha” version of its Digital Service Standardfor public review and comment. The standard contains a set of criteria that all digital government services will be expected to meet.

Fisheries Act: Fisheries and Oceans Canada recently sought advice from the public on how to restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards through legislative, policy, and program changes associated with the Fisheries Act. This was the second phase of a public consultation process to review changes that were made to the Fisheries Act in 2012.

International

NAFTA:

Negotiation Objectives: NAFTA negotiations began on August 16. In July, the U.S. federal administration released its NAFTA negotiating objectives. In response,Ontario Premier, Kathleen Wynne, released a statement that conveyed Ontario’s commitment to standing up for Ontario workers and businesses. The provincial government has been preparing for NAFTA negotiations by engaging with U.S. political and business leaders at the state and federal levels through both Canadian federal and Ontario provincial channels. For example, Wynne participated, alongside Prime Minister Trudeau, in the National Governors Association Summer Meeting in Rhode Island in July, and on September 14, Wynne met with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in Washington, D.C. Immediately before negotiations were set to begin, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Chrystia Freeland, outlined Canada’s core NAFTA negotiating objectives in a formal address. Among the goals are enhanced environmental provisions, regulatory harmonization, a freer market for government procurement, and simplified movement of professionals. The third round of negotiations will take place from September 23 to 27 in Canada.

The Green Party: Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada, released the Party’s submission to the Consultations on the Renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The Green Party points to the need to protect water resources and focuses on 1987 Federal Water Policy to meet the requirements of sustainable water management. May calls for the removal of all mentions of water as a good from NAFTA and federal legislation that prohibits bulk water exports.

Great Lakes:

Invasive Species: The United States Army Corps of Engineers has released the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS). The document presents control options and technologies that can be used to prevent invasive species (e.g., Asian Carp) movement between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. In August, the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources, Kathryn McGarry, announced new investments in programs to combat invasive species.

Lake Huron: The Lake Huron Partnership released a draft 2017 Lakewide Action and Management Plan (LAMP) for Lake Huron. The Lake Huron LAMP is a five-year binational strategy for maintaining and restoring the water quality of Lake Huron and the St. Mary’s River.

Collaboration: The Council of the Great Lakes Region has signed a collaboration agreement with the Northeast-Midwest Institute. The agreement strengthens the bilateral relationship between the United States and Canada by sharing resources and networks as the two organizations undertake research and outreach to address issues facing the Great Lakes region.