Standing Committee on Public Accounts
Climate Change: Ontario’s Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
(Volume 2, Chapter 3, 2019 annual Report of the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario)
1st Session, 42nd Parliament
69 Elizabeth II
The Honourable Ted Arnott, MPP
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly
Your Standing Committee on Public Accounts has the honour to present its Report and commends it to the House.
Catherine Fife, MPP
Chair of the Committee
Standing committee on public accounts
1st Session, 42nd Parliament
Deepak Anand stephen crawford
Jill Andrew Christine hogarth
Toby Barrett Norman miller
*Stephen Blais Michael Parsa
*JOHN FRASER was replaced by STEphen BLAIS on October 1, 2020.
peter tabuns regularly served as a substitute member of the Committee.
Clerk of the Committee
Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change
Ontario’s Environment Plan
2019 Audit Objective and Scope
Main Points of 2019 Audit
Issues Raised in the Audit and Before the Committee
Plan Updates Based on Comments
External Advisory Panel
Methods to Estimate Emissions Reductions
Emissions Estimates Underlying the Environment Plan
Low Carbon Vehicles Uptake
Clean Fuel Initiatives
Industry Performance Standards
Emission Reduction Fund
Energy Storage Innovation
Reductions from Future Innovation
Public Transit Spending
Internal Ministry Analysis of Initiatives in the Plan
IT Controls of Integrated Model to Estimate Emissions
Costs of Emission-Reduction Initiatives
Decisions by Provincial Ministries and Agencies
Public Reporting on Environment Plan
Consolidated List of Committee Recommendations
Dissenting Opinion of the New Democratic Party Members of the Committee
We believe that in a number of key areas related to public accountability the report falls short in its recommendations.
Recommendation 3. c) calls for “regular” reports from the Ministry “with “up-to-date” information and emission forecasts” so that the public can track progress of the Ministry in achieving its goals.
We believe reporting should be annual in line with jurisdictions like BC, the UK, Australia and others. At its worst “regular” can be every 4 years or every decade or more. Failure to prescribe an annual reporting cycle will downgrade the importance of reporting for the public service who, pressed by many other tasks, will likely not make it a priority. It also makes it convenient for a Minister who has not pursued the goals vigorously to decide that a given year is not the right time to report.
It undermines accountability and the ability of the Government to ensure that a plan is on track.
Similarly, in recommendation 19 the frequency of public reporting on “performance metrics and progress towards meeting its 2030 emissions targets” and “explain(ing) outcomes of its initiatives aimed at reducing emissions” are set at “regular”.
The reporting should be annual and public.
The same arguments that apply to recommendation 3. c) apply here.
If you accept that the world and Ontario face a crisis that threatens life and limb then there is no time to waste, projects need to be driven and setting frequent reporting helps drive them as in any endeavour.
It should be noted that the need for annual reporting is entirely in line with the recommendations of the Auditor General:
Recommendation #19 (pp. 162-163 of the Auditor General of Ontario’s 2019 report on Climate Change):
To help keep Ontarians updated on the status of efforts to reduce emissions, we recommend that the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks:
• develop and implement a set of performance metrics that are measurable and cover all key sectors;
• report at least annually to the public on the government’s performance metrics and overall cumulative progress toward meeting its 2030 emissions target; and
• explain the outcomes of all initiatives to reduce emissions in the annual report.
Recommendation (p. 29 of the Auditor General of Ontario’s 2019 Overview of Environmental Issues in Ontario):
In order to meet its commitment to report publicly on its progress in further developing and implementing the 2018 Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan, we recommend that the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks:
• develop key quantitative and qualitative indicators and related targets;
• establish an annual reporting timeline;
• report publicly in accordance with this timeline; and
• incorporate reporting on environmental expenditures as part of annual reporting.
Recommendation #2 (p. 167 of the Auditor General of Ontario’s 2016 report on Climate Change):
To keep Ontarians updated on the status of its efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change should:
• report at least annually to the public on its overall progress toward meeting its emissions targets; and
• explain the outcomes of its specific initiatives to reduce emissions.
These three reports are available at:
It is bewildering that the Committee should ignore standard business practice and the considered opinion of Ontario’s Auditor General.
Lastly, in recommendation 20. c), the words “as required” have been added at the end. Since the sense that has been given is that the Ministry sees the plan as “draft” and recognizes that it has to update it and present it to cabinet, the words “as required” undermine that goal. It is required, now.
The Government’s climate plan is profoundly flawed as can be seen from reading the rest of the report which calls for simple things like basing recommendations on “evidence”. Weakening it further does a disservice to Ontario.