Wednesday 23 October 1996
Environmental Approvals Improvement Act, 1996, Bill 57, Mr Sterling / Loi de 1996 sur l'amélioration du processus d'autorisation environnementale, projet de loi 57, M Sterling
Consulting Engineers of Ontario
Mr Don Ingram
Mrs Erin Mahoney
Canadian Chemical Producers' Association
Mr Norm Huebel
Mr Jorma Salmikivi
Conservation Council of Ontario
Mr Andrew McCammon
Urban Development Institute/Ontario
Mr Stephen Kaiser
Mr Reg Webster
Ontario Mining Association
Mr James Fisher
Mr Charles Ferguson
Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy
Ms Anne Mitchell
Dr Mark Winfield
Ontario Forest Industries Association
Ms Marie Rauter
Mrs Mary Field
STANDING COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT
Chair / Président: Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East / -Est PC)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce PC)
Mr John R. Baird (Nepean PC)
*Mr JackCarroll (Chatham-Kent PC)
Mr DavidChristopherson (Hamilton Centre / -Centre ND)
*Mr TedChudleigh (Halton North / -Nord PC)
*Ms MarilynChurley (Riverdale ND)
Mr DwightDuncan (Windsor-Walkerville L)
*Mrs BarbaraFisher (Bruce PC)
*Mr SteveGilchrist (Scarborough East / -Est PC)
Mr PatHoy (Essex-Kent L)
Mr Jean-MarcLalonde (Prescott and Russell / Prescott et Russell L)
*Mr BartMaves (Niagara Falls PC)
Mr BillMurdoch (Grey-Owen Sound PC)
Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa PC)
*Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre PC)
*In attendance /présents
Substitutions present /Membres remplaçants présents:
Mr DougGalt (Northumberland PC) for Mr Baird
Mr JohnHastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale PC) for Mr Maves
Mrs LynMcLeod (Fort William L) for Mr Duncan
Clerk / Greffièr: Mr Todd Decker
Staff / Personnel: Mr Ted Glenn, research officer, Legislative Research Service
ENVIRONMENTAL APPROVALS IMPROVEMENT ACT, 1996 / LOI DE 1996 SUR L'AMÉLIORATION DU PROCESSUS D'AUTORISATION ENVIRONNEMENTALE
Consideration of Bill 57, An Act to improve the Efficiency of the Environmental Approvals Process and Certain Other Matters / Projet de loi 57, Loi visant à améliorer l'efficience du processus d'autorisation environnementale et concernant certaines autres questions.
The Chair (Mr Steve Gilchrist): I call the meeting to order on this the second day of hearings on Bill 57, An Act to improve the Efficiency of the Environmental Approvals Process and Certain Other Matters.
CONSULTING ENGINEERS OF ONTARIO
The Chair: Our first group up this afternoon is the Consulting Engineers of Ontario. I invite them to come forward to the table and introduce themselves to Hansard.
Just a reminder, we have 20 minutes for you to divide as you see fit between either presentation or question and answer period.
Mr Donald Ingram: I'm Donald Ingram, president of the Consulting Engineers of Ontario, and with me is Mrs Erin Mahoney, who is the chairman of our consulting engineers and Ministry of Environment and Energy liaison committee.
Mr Chairman, members of the committee, the Consulting Engineers of Ontario is pleased to be here today to have the opportunity to present our views on Bill 57 to the standing committee on resources development. CEO is an organization devoted to the business and professional aspects of the practice of consulting engineering in Ontario. More than 275 firms throughout Ontario are members.
Consulting engineer is a designation used by a professional engineer in private practice who has met the requirements of the Professional Engineers Act and who has been approved to use this designation by the council of the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario. A combination of education, technical knowledge, experience, judgement, integrity and a high dedication to a strict code of professional ethics and a code of consulting engineering practice are the hallmarks of our industry.
The consulting engineer has assumed an integral and vital role in the advanced technological planning and design that has become essential to the successful operation of projects which have a significant interface with the environment, for example, sewage, water and transportation infrastructure and industrial processes.
The ingenuity and application of scientific knowledge to meet human needs, from the investigative process to the completion of a capital project, places the consulting engineer in a unique position to serve the public and government bodies. CEO advocates contracting out by government departments and agencies with a view to providing greater opportunities in the free enterprise system, producing world-class firms that export services and provide spinoff benefits to Ontario's manufacturers and suppliers.
I'd like to ask Mrs Mahoney to continue from there, please.
Mrs Erin Mahoney: We want to focus today on the environment-economic link which we believe is reinforced through Bill 57. Many of the projects which consulting engineers are retained for have an approvals component. In that sense, CEO is undoubtedly the largest user of the approvals system and we welcome this much-awaited reform of an often costly and cumbersome process. We are sure that by implementing the amendments outlined in Bill 57, limited monetary resources will be freed from administrative application and will be available for investment in those areas which can most directly benefit the environment, the capital infrastructure of the water, sewage and transportation works in the province of Ontario.
CEO supports the direction of the changes outlined in the bill and the objective of continued environmental protection coupled with economic growth and job creation.
With respect to approvals reform, the government states that possible candidates for standardized approvals regulations include projects that are reviewed and certified by an independent, accredited professional. CEO is of the opinion that where an independent, accredited professional is retained by a proponent and where the professional utilizes quality assurance and quality control mechanisms for review of project design, this review, in conjunction with completion of a "review checklist" which should be prepared by a stakeholder group such as the Consulting Engineers of Ontario and Ministry of Environment liaison committee, this should fulfil the terms of this clause.
The types of projects that should qualify for standardized approvals, in addition to water distribution and sewage collection systems, should include water and sewage pumping stations, water reservoirs and water and waste water treatment plants where proven technology is employed. For example, the activated sludge treatment process has been in use for many decades. If a proponent proposes to employ this technology and the project is designed and reviewed by an independent, accredited professional, the project should qualify for standardized approvals.
So as not to stifle research, development and innovation in design, construction and operations, CEO is of the opinion that proponents must have the recourse to propose a project for approval that is different from the "rules" prescribed under the standardized approvals approach. This approach will typically be sought by proponents of larger projects through which innovation may yield significant improvements in environmental and economic performance. Although CEO is convinced that the ministry will make every attempt to keep the prescriptive rules current, such rules may not be able to keep pace with the rate of innovation, especially where such rules must be prescribed through regulation.
As a second matter, where approvals authority is transferred from the province to municipalities, a proponent must have the right to appeal to the province for the approval of projects which are of provincial significance. For example, there are certain industrial activities and public infrastructure which have absolute location requirements related to factors including raw material supply, marketplace location and access to specific modes of transportation. It is not appropriate to assume that these proponents can shop their facilities around until a willing host is found. The only willing host may not meet the location imperatives. Ultimately, only Queen's Park has the authority to determine what undertakings are in the interests of the province of Ontario.
Further, the fee structure should be based on the estimated amount of MOEE or municipal staff time employed in reviewing and issuing an approval. Simple guidelines could be developed by a stakeholder group to estimate this administrative charge for various types of projects. Such an administrative charge, once established, must constitute an upset fee limit for the approval. By tying fees to the actual cost of approvals and review, proponents will be motivated to submit complete and readily comprehensible approval submissions.
In summary, we are here today to tell you that the Consulting Engineers of Ontario supports the spirit and intent of the approvals reform process. We believe the consulting engineering industry will be a key player in Ontario achieving this important goal.
Don Ingram, president of CEO, or I would be pleased to respond to any of the questions that you have today on our brief.
The Chair: Thank you very much. That affords us just fractionally less than four minutes per caucus. Traditionally, we start each day's questioning with the official opposition, but there are no representatives from the official opposition here, so we'll commence with Ms Churley.
Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Do I get eight minutes?
The Chair: Just in case the official opposition shows up before the end of this session --
Ms Churley: No, four minutes is quite appropriate; just joking.
Coming back to your comments on fees, when looking at the bill, it is my opinion and, I suppose, others' opinion that this is pretty open-ended and that you could in fact end up paying fees above and beyond cost recovery; that you will be, essentially, through the back door contributing to paying off the deficit or contributing to the tax cut or whatever. It's a bit of a hidden tax. How would you feel about that? I think we all feel comfortable with paying for costs, but what's your opinion on that?
Mrs Mahoney: It's an important point. Our opinion is that this administrative fee should be developed in consultation with a stakeholder group which has the experience in knowing how much time and effort it typically takes to review approvals applications for various types of undertakings. We think in this way, simple guidelines could be developed that would tie the so-developed fee structure directly to the level of effort required and would not constitute a hidden tax or a cost recovery above and beyond the time or level of effort required to issue the approval.
Ms Churley: Other jurisdictions like Alberta, and in fact under Agriculture and Food here, I believe, have done something that most finance ministers from all parties generally don't like. But, recently, the federal government is looking at this as well, and that is designating funds: taking it out of the general stream and putting it into a special designated fund -- in this case, because there will be extra money made, there's certainly no doubt about that, above and beyond cost recovery.
There are some who are proposing that, in that event, a special designated fund -- and this has happened in Alberta -- be set up so that any moneys that are made above and beyond cost recovery be put into this fund to help pay for environmental spills or cleanups or environmental programs. This is being suggested particularly in view of the fact that there have been many cutbacks to the ministry and it's getting harder and harder to finance some of these programs. What would your view be on that?
Mrs Mahoney: We are of the opinion that this administrative charge should be user-pay tied directly to the cost, only the cost, of obtaining the approvals. So most importantly our point is that an excess cost recovery should not be the focus of this administrative fee; it should be solely to recover the staff time for municipalities and the Ministry of Environment and Energy devoted to reviewing and issuing the approvals for the undertaking.
If it is the case that excess fees are gleaned from this source, then we are certainly open to all kinds of suggestions. I think one that directs it back to the environment may be appropriate. But it's our intent, through our comments here, to communicate a strong position for not collecting fees in excess of what is required to issue the approval.
Ms Churley: The last question on permit by rule -- and I recognize your support of that. I don't. I have a number of problems with it, one of which -- and, given your profession, maybe you can help with this -- is concern about the cumulative effects.
I know that you know technically far more about some of the proponents or undertakings that you said you could see in that category, but there are possibilities of paint shops, dry cleaners -- we don't have the full list yet -- that will be constructed over time. Believe me, in my riding I've seen at first hand a very serious problem with the cumulative effect. Maybe one in the area wouldn't be a problem, maybe not even two, but when you have a lot, it can be a real problem. How would you suggest that the government deal with that particular aspect of permit by rule?
Mrs Mahoney: I think that standard setting must, first and foremost, address the risk to human health and the environment. Once the point of impact on the environment is identified and those risks can be clearly managed, I think standards must be developed based on risk to human health and safety, and that establishes the minimum standard. Then this minimum standard, which is prescribed under the standardized approvals regulations, can be made more stringent based on a consideration of economic and technical feasibility.
Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): Mrs Mahoney, could you provide this committee, through your organization, with any specific examples, names knocked out, of projects that illustrate so clearly your point on page 2 dealing with the "costly and cumbersome" approvals process as it exists today?
Mrs Mahoney: We cannot provide that to you today.
Mr Hastings: Or examples later?
Mrs Mahoney: We can, yes.
Mr Hastings: Can you think of any specific ones from your personal experience that illustrate that point much more graphically than your statement as to the cost and how the thing went on and on?
Mrs Mahoney: I know from my personal work experience that we represented an industry which tried to obtain approval for combustion of waste-derived fuel, for which approval was never granted, but the process, which ultimately led nowhere, took many years and resulted in an expenditure of several hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars on behalf of the proponent.
Mr Hastings: What kinds of jobs would have been involved, in terms of job creation, had that project ever received approval?
Mrs Mahoney: There would have been jobs created not only on the waste management side, through preparing the fuel, which could have been used to replace Ohio coal in Ontario's economy, which has a defined fuel value, but jobs also would have been created directly by the industry employing additional people to manage this material. From this single undertaking, perhaps somewhere between five and 10 jobs would be lost as a minimum.
Mr Hastings: From all the projects your organization has been involved in, how many jobs do you estimate have been lost in the last number of years because of this cumbersome process?
Mrs Mahoney: I don't think I can comment on behalf of CEO, but we believe that through improved efficiencies to the process, proponents will have a higher degree of comfort with the knowledge of the outcome and the process to get to the outcome; therefore they will enter the system, develop the undertaking and get approval for the undertaking. I can't estimate at this point what that job loss might have been.
Mr Hastings: Finally, do you believe that some of the new technologies coming to fruition in waste water treatment and the like have lost this province considerable export potential over the last few years? That could be directly attributable. You've never been able to get any of the new technologies approved, therefore you end up with no capacity at home to show how well they work and that they could be exportable services internationally.
Mrs Mahoney: I think that is the case, to some extent, although there has been government support of new technology in the province, and the private sector certainly knows there is a significant market potential for new technology on the waste water treatment side. That being said, perhaps we might see more examples of it in the province if there were a clearer approvals process. That's as far I'd be prepared to go today.
The Chair: Mr Carroll, did you have any questions?
Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): Yes. Thank you very much for your presentation. Those who come before us opposed to Bill 57 and the standardized approvals process argue that business cannot be trusted, that given the opportunity, they will cut corners and not treat the environment preciously.
As you are professional people in this area, a couple of questions: (1) Is protecting the environment good business for business people, and do they realize that? (2) In your opinion, can we trust industry, with the help of professional engineers, to safeguard our environment with a standardized approval process?
Mr Ingram: Maybe I can answer that, Mr Carroll. First, clearly professional engineering is a self-regulated profession. We take considerable pride in the self-regulation of our profession and the way we manage it. I believe our history of doing that through Professional Engineers of Ontario indicates that it's a profession that can be trusted that certainly puts considerable emphasis on responsibilities related to public safety and welfare. Also very clearly taking care of the environment, looking after the environment, would fall into that category. I believe that as a profession we carry the responsibility very well, we're very serious about it and our past record demonstrates that we self-regulate our profession very consistently.
The Chair: Thank you both for taking the time to appear before us and make your presentation today. We appreciate it.
CANADIAN CHEMICAL PRODUCERS' ASSOCIATION
The Chair: Our next presentation will be from the Canadian Chemical Producers' Association. Good afternoon. Welcome to the committee. If you would be kind enough to introduce yourselves for the benefit of Hansard, please.
Mr Norm Huebel: My name is Norm Huebel. I'm the Ontario regional manager for the Canadian Chemical Producers' Association. My colleague is Jorma Salmikivi. He's the chairman of our certificate of approvals subcommittee.
I think the fact that we have a certificate of approvals subcommittee speaks volumes for the importance of this issue to our association. This subcommittee has been in active force for a number of years, dealing or wrestling with the certificate of approval process. Mr Salmikivi is well equipped to talk about that process.
To begin with, I would like to talk a little bit about our association. The Canadian Chemical Producers' Association is a national association of close to 70 member companies, with headquarters in Ottawa. As the lead association in the chemicals sector, we represent 44 companies with 96 manufacturing sites in the province. These companies account for 90% of all manufactured chemicals in Ontario. To put things in perspective, the chemicals and chemical products industry is the third-largest manufacturing sector in Ontario in terms of shipments, the third-largest in terms of value added and the sixth in terms of employment.
We, meaning the association and our member companies, support the maintenance of high environmental standards while reducing barriers to economic growth and job creation. We've consistently talked about the links between competitiveness and job creation and the role the regulatory system has in contributing to competitiveness. Our members view the regulatory system as being key to their future competitiveness. In today's world of liberalized trade and open markets, there are considerably fewer areas of public policy which governments can use to attract investment and provide advantage. We believe that the regulatory system offers one of the few opportunities for Canadian governments to provide companies with sustainable competitive advantage. In order to accomplish this, the regulatory regime needs to be transformed into a performance-based approach, with full acceptance of alternatives to regulations such as voluntary approaches implemented by responsible companies, and I underline "responsible."
When speaking about the regulatory system as it pertains to environmental protection, government must ensure that companies' environmental expenditures are directed into priority areas and not misdirected into areas where marginal environmental improvement will be accomplished. Flexibility, allowing companies to use their own creativity and innovation, regulatory certainty, stakeholder consultation, the elimination of red tape, and encouraging private sector involvement in finding solutions and replacing outdated approaches with new, cost-effective alternatives more in tune with global trends are all objectives that will ensure that environmental protection can be coupled with economic growth and job creation. We are pleased that the ministry has recognized the importance of these factors.
Mr Salmikivi will now talk to the specifics of Bill 57 and how it fits in.
Mr Jim Salmikivi: I won't dissect Bill 57 on a micro basis but I will offer comments on a macrogeneric basis.
I understand that the bill will accomplish four key things:
(1) Close the Environmental Compensation Corp. Since the operations of this corporation have amounted to over four times the amount of compensation funds that have been meted out, it seems to be an inefficient manner of providing compensation. We support its windup. We certainly don't have any quarrel with this objective.
(2) Cut red tape in the approvals process without compromising the high standards of environmental protection. This supports our opening remarks. We will comment further on this.
(3) Give the ministry the ability to recover costs of administering some of its record-keeping programs. We can support this concept provided that the services required to establish and monitor a high standard of environmental protection and the systems and processes required to deliver the services are efficient.
(4) Officially close the Ontario Waste Management Corp. What can I say? That's $145 million down the drain.
CCPA believes that some of the objectives underlying Bill 57 are sound, appropriate and long overdue. I would like to talk about some of these objectives now.
We support the elimination of discrepancies between the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act. For example, we must ensure that the definition of "spills" is consistent between the two acts to prevent overreporting of minor occurrences.
We also support the development of standardized approvals regulations, sometimes called "permit by rule" in other jurisdictions. For example, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment has issued a standard for the construction of a floating roof storage tank. If the company constructs a tank to meet the standard, it should not require a certificate of approval and burden the ministry and the company with redundant work to reject a design that has already been approved in the development of the standard.
We also support the development of new approvals regulations to exempt projects that have insignificant impact or a reduction of impact on the environment. For example, one of our member companies wanted to invest $15 million to install a nitrous oxide abatement facility on a voluntary basis. They waited five months to get a certificate of approval and paid a fee of $100,000 to install a project that was beneficial to the environment. We believe that a number of projects should be exempted from the C of A process.
However, we also believe that the ministry must have knowledge of these projects, and for that reason we have proposed a system of notification to replace the C of A process for exempted projects. Some candidates for exemptions are things such as pollution prevention projects or projects that reduce emissions into the environment without increasing adverse impact, such as the installation of a condenser on a process tank vent, the diversion of a direct discharge to an approved treatment plant, or the installation of sewer systems that discharge to approved waste water treatment facilities.
We also support an improvement in turnaround times for certificates of approval. For example, many minor projects today can take four to six months. This is hardly conducive to business planning and operation.
We also support the elimination of unnecessary red tape that adds cost and does nothing to improve the environment. Again an example: Under MISA regulations, companies must report their monitoring results using a ministry-developed software that is cumbersome. The minister proposes to change this requirement under the regulatory reform.
We also support the incorporation of non-regulatory mechanisms for the resolution of environmental problems. For example, other mechanisms such as codes of practice, accredited companies and memorandums of understanding for voluntary initiatives may be approaches that allow the ministry to target problems with a rifle rather than a shotgun. Our feeling is that with responsible companies, carrots work better than sticks, meaning that incentives produce higher performance than regulations. To bring things closer to home, which is more effective and produces a better job with your children: "Clean up your room or you'll get a spanking," or "Do a good job of cleaning up your room and mommy and daddy will take you to Wonderland or a movie" or wherever?
We have been doing a lot of work with both the federal and provincial governments on voluntary or non-regulatory approaches in an attempt to ensure that companies are spending their environmental dollars on the correct priorities for their manufacturing sites, not ones that have been dictated by regulations that do not recognize the environmental priorities for a particular site. We recognize that voluntary approaches will not be appropriate in all circumstances, and not all companies or individuals are responsible. Therefore, governments must establish appropriate prerequisites before inviting companies to participate in voluntary programs. Recognition and rewards for voluntary actions will maximize performance. Bill 57 will allow the government to establish appropriate benefits for voluntary actions.
Many groups may be concerned with the potential powers being sought under this bill. As major stakeholders, we too could have concerns because we have the potential to be massively impacted, negatively as well as positively. Things like single-site C of As could effectively shut us down if a single-site C of A is revoked rather than just a C of A dealing with a small section of a process. This is where trust comes in.
We believe the government is interested in the protection of the environment in a cost-effective manner that will not discourage investment and job creation. Current high levels of environmental protection will not and should not be sacrificed.
We believe new regulations formed from revised acts will be developed on a consultative basis to the satisfaction of true stakeholders.
We further believe that management practices of the 1960s, including those of government, are not appropriate for the 1990s. Changed industry ethics, changed awareness of environmental priorities, changed government resources and globalization have all indicated that governments must interact differently with their stakeholders. They must have the flexibility to respond quickly and proactively and must not have their hands tied by obsolete acts that contain redundancies and outdated approaches.
For the foregoing reasons, we support the passing of Bill 57. It will give the government the power and the legislative authority to carry out many of the reforms outlined in the consultation paper entitled Responsive Environmental Protection.
We thank you for taking the time to hear our views.
Ms Churley: Thank you very much for your presentation. There are a lot of issues we don't have time to follow up on here, so I'm going to concentrate on your comments on page 3 where you say, "This is where trust comes in," and in general that whole discussion around voluntary approaches and trust and that whole interesting phenomenon of getting more into voluntary actions.
You can trust some people and you can't trust others, and that's true of all walks of life including industry. I suggest to you that if what you say is true, and you have a good reputation for keeping up to present environmental standards, when you've got an uneven set of regulations out there when a lot of it is voluntary, at the end of the day it could really hurt you too, especially when a ministry has been downsized to the point where maybe you can say, "Clean up your room," but there's nobody there to see if you've cleaned up your room or not.
There'll be some bad ones out there who are going to take advantage of that and put the good companies in jeopardy. I'd like your response to that and how you would suggest that be dealt with so you're not unfairly penalized by the bad companies. You have to admit they're out there, still.
Mr Salmikivi: As mentioned in our brief, there are responsible companies and there are those that may not be considered to be responsible by various parties. The key issue here, for us anyway, is that the government, the ministry requires additional tools to maintain and to enhance environmental protection in this province.
Those companies that show they can be trusted, for example, CCPA member companies, meet the codes of responsible care. Under those codes, we also have developed some tools we can share with the ministry. In a relationship that we're trying to build with the ministry, the ministry itself will fully appreciate what CCPA companies are trying to do and achieve.
For companies that are not responsible, there are always regulations. We are not proposing voluntary actions as the sole means of achieving environmental protection. We believe there are voluntary actions and we believe there is a place for regulations. We also see that through voluntary actions we can build a model for regulations to create this level playing field, because I think that's one of the issues we're addressing.
Ms Churley: Yes, absolutely.
Mr Huebel: I'd like to just add that I think one of the keys here is what we're doing is talking about differentiation. I think we alluded to it in our paper when we talked about prerequisites. What we've said is there's good guys and there's bad guys, and the way you screen them is you set a number of prerequisites; in other words, people have to meet certain things. They have to have certain systems in place; they have to have demonstrated performance in place. If they can meet the prerequisites the government puts in place, the government then feels comfortable. They believe that based upon track records and what's there, they will do what they say they're going to do. Those people live by a different set of rules than the other people who don't meet the prerequisites. What you're doing is talking about different rules for the different players.
Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): Thank you for your presentation. As more of a comment than anything, I am thrilled to see you identify some of the cumbersome regulations that we're trying to deal with, particularly the example you're using here, one that I had not come across, the $15 million to install an nitrous oxide abatement facility on a voluntary basis, taking five months to try to improve the environment and costing $100,000 in fees. That's the kind of thing the environmental regulatory review was all about: to improve the environment and try to improve the regulations so that people like yourselves could work their way through and improve the environment. There are too many regulations in there that are extremely cumbersome, that are detrimental to the environment. It was great to see you identifying that one.
Another one is the cumbersome software program that's now in place to try to report through. It encourages people to try to do an end-run, and the end result is the environment's been hurt in the past.
The minister's been very emphatic that if the economics come in conflict with the environment, the environment will always win. Our effort is to improve the economy and to streamline those regulations so that the environment can be protected and you can get on with your business. Thanks very much for an excellent presentation.
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): I don't think anybody would disagree that there's a desire to see the environmental approvals process streamlined, because we're all aware of how long it has taken and how costly it's been. One of the questions is, does this particular bill do that effectively?
I want to bring to your attention that the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers' Association raised some concerns. They agreed that amendments that would streamline the approvals process could not come too quickly, but they were afraid that the way this particular bill was written, it could have exactly the opposite effect. One of the issues they raised as a concern -- it comes back to the question Ms Churley raised about trust -- was that this bill allows the ministry power to exempt. It also allows the ministry considerable latitude to prescribe.
The motor vehicle manufacturers people were very concerned that what this could do would allow ministries perhaps in the future to be highly prescriptive; in fact, they said to dictate to manufacturers how they should go about building and operating their facilities by setting the type of technology or the manufacturing process that must be employed, perhaps regardless of cost availability or even the practicality. Is that an issue which gives you any cause for concern, that the direction in which regulations may be imposed through this may compound the problem, rather than relieve it?
Mr Huebel: We don't believe that's the intention of this government. Any discussions we've had would indicate they're moving towards performance-based, as opposed to prescriptive regulations. At the end of the day, my answer to that would be is that if the government chooses to write more prescriptive regulations, to put more burden on the industry, the reward is that future investments will not be made in the province; they will go elsewhere, and that will be their reward. I don't think that's what they want. For that reason, I think we've already said, sure, we could have concerns as other groups, but we believe at the end of the day they want to protect the environment but they also want job creation and growth in this province.
Mrs McLeod: I guess the concern is that, as we write laws, they have continuity, and that if we want to achieve a certain intent with the law, it should be absolutely clear that's what the law is doing. Would you feel more comfortable if you could see the regulations set out and if there was some greater requirement for government to be public and consultative about the development of the actual regulations?
Mr Huebel: I think we've already said in our brief, we've talked about that there would be consultation with true stakeholders and we believe that's what they will do.
Mr Salmikivi: I'd like to make another comment. I believe all governments now and in the future will want to look at the most cost-effective way of delivering environmental protection in this province. What we have here with Bill 57 is the opportunity to develop more tools for the government to do exactly that. We believe there is a right balance between regulations and voluntary action. The challenge is to find that balance, and that will create the most cost-effective way of delivering the programs.
The Chair: We're already over our time. Thank you both for taking the time to appear before us and make a presentation today. We appreciate it.
CONSERVATION COUNCIL OF ONTARIO
The Chair: That leads us to our next presentation, which will be from the Conservation Council of Ontario. Good afternoon and welcome to the committee.
Mr Andrew McCammon: Good afternoon and thank you very much. My name is Andrew McCammon. I am the secretary of the Conservation Council of Ontario. We provided copies of our summary of our presentation to the clerk. I hope they are making the rounds to you.
The Conservation Council of Ontario is a separately incorporated coalition of 33 environmental organizations in Ontario: environmental, professional and sectoral. We include under our umbrella groups such as the Wildlands League, the Federation of Ontario Naturalists, the Ontario Federation of Labour, and professional organizations such as the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Ontario Professional Planners Institute, so we really have a broad spectrum of people who come together.
The reason they come together -- our mission, if you will -- is that we're concerned about environmental sustainability for Ontario. We try to help develop environmental sustainability for Ontario with two main program areas: policy development for the articulation of sound provincial policy, and more of an active program of providing for the development of educational and training material for community action.
Bill 57 and related matters were the subject of extensive discussion at the September meeting of the Conservation Council of Ontario. I can tell you that without exception the members present expressed serious concerns over both the intent and the content of the bill, as well as the overall context of many environmental initiatives currently being put forward by the government.
I will speak briefly to the points in the next couple of pages, but I can't underscore enough exactly the same point that Lyn McLeod spoke of a few minutes ago, that the bill can be read in a way such that environmentalists can rub their hands in glee at the prospect of stopping development, of protecting every tree in this province from being trimmed, or the complete opposite.
This bill has so much latitude and so much executive power and is so vague that it is of grievous concern to us. If you contemplate having these powers in place and having a government with a particular bent elected, you can imagine how this bill would be completely misused.
The comments I want to speak very briefly to before entertaining some of your questions are that primarily the bill ensconces a tremendous amount of executive power in the minister. This is at a time when an awful lot of the mechanisms for public consultation have been terminated.
To give you an example of our concerns over the arbitrary manner in which the government might use this executive power, you merely have to look at what happened last week with respect to the ongoing debate over aggregate extraction in the Niagara Escarpment, where the Niagara Escarpment twice took to court the position that a company seeking to expand its operation on the other side of the road needed a new permit. After winning that in court twice, the government of this province decided that wasn't the case.
Secondly, we note that in fact there is nothing in the bill that relates to improved efficiency. If by "efficiency" the government means that there would be improved mechanisms to resolve the tension between the conflicting mandates of the government to protect the environment and to ensure some sort of orderly development, we are all in favour of that. We are all in favour of eliminating unnecessary red tape. We're in favour of eliminating the deficit and getting this province back into the black. We're all in favour of those in principle, but there's nothing in this bill that relates to efficiency. All it does is put power in the hands of the minister without due process.
Thirdly, the bill is unacceptably vague. We talked about that earlier by reiterating Ms McLeod's comments, and I think you could boil the bill down to 11 words: "The minister may do anything he or she wants to do." If you eliminate the "or she," you've got a nine-word bill.
Recent experience of our community with respect to vagueness in government documents or proposals includes a number of experiences with respect to responsive environmental protection. The document proposes changes to some 80 Ontario environmental regulations. Not only was the technical annexe late in arriving to support what the actual content of the bill might be, but in some instances the technical annexe disagreed completely with what the bill's intention was announced to be. There was scrambling. So the vagueness causes us some concern.
Fourthly, a number of our members, particularly those from smaller municipalities and northern communities, are very concerned about the potential downloading of various programs or regulatory regimes to local municipalities that will create unlevel playing fields. At a time when the Premier of this province is concerned about other provinces doing corporate raids and tax deals to locate businesses to other provinces, and that we have a concern about developing an integrated marketing agency for the GTA and to show ourselves in a good light, this bill in fact creates the spectre of "The City Above" being in competition and luring businesses away from "The City with the Big Pit."
Fifthly, and as a much larger example of that, I want to refer you briefly to what's going on in ISO 14000. I have been on the Canadian advisory committee for ISO 14000 for three years, mostly as the only representative of environmental groups sitting on that committee. ISO 14000 is an excellent tool for corporations to implement voluntary EMSs, environmental management systems. That's what it was designed for. It was not designed to be a normative reference, and that's why environmental organizations around the world were not particularly involved in it.
Suddenly, while there's an effort to create voluntary level playing fields around the world, Ontario is downgrading its own regulatory regime. So Ontario companies that will be going international and saying, "Oh, we're ISO 14000 certified," they're going to laugh at you in Europe. "Yes, you may meet your local regulations, but we don't really know where Nipissing is and we don't think Nipissing's environmental regs for disposal of waste material are in any way similar to those of Ottawa or those in Quebec or those in Holland." So we think it's going the wrong way at the wrong time.
I also want to mention that the province is beginning to talk about codes of conduct more and more. While I work as a consultant in pollution prevention and think that there should be mechanisms to improve corporate initiatives and not tie them up in red tape, the pretence that codes of conduct are anything that were developed, particularly with respect to ISO, with environmental participation, with social participation and with even any government participation is dead wrong. I don't believe this government knows what it's doing when it talks about codes of conduct.
Sixthly, Bill 57 is not an isolated example of what's going on in Ontario. We have drastic changes to staffing levels in MOEE and MNR. We're still trying to deal with the fallout from Bill 26 and there are supposed to be additional changes to the authority of the conservation authorities. I've mentioned responsive environmental protection before and my favourite is the ongoing pretence that the Ministry of Environment and Energy can seriously address any aspect of the last name in its title: anything to do with energy. So there's a lot to be done before we tinker with efficiency in a bill that doesn't address efficiency.
I want to close on a positive note. Our experience in the conservation council has been with a number of different sectors and so I want to speak briefly to those, and time constraints precluded me from typing more than just this list.
MOUs on pollution prevention should have targets. Currently this province is a signatory to the MOU on pollution prevention in the dry-cleaning sector. The dry-cleaning sector is to be commended for an awful lot of what it's trying to do and develop green cleaning. However, there are no targets. It's "Trust me, trust me."
If you take that and compare with the next element, the level playing field for targeted toxic chemicals, it's absolutely fascinating to me that one of the things currently being considered in this province is ending the requirement of pulp and paper companies with respect to AOX. And so at a time where you're trying to develop pollution prevention with the small dry cleaners who are trying to earn a living in a very competitive service-intensive industry, you're relieving the burden of dealing with toxic chemicals on another sector. Interestingly enough, that's completely against the experience of the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers' Association, which is voluntarily trying to eliminate 65 chemicals. So we're all over the map in Ontario.
Finally, jobs for sustainability: I just finished reading 24 CVs for one position in pollution prevention training, 14 of which were absolutely excellent and we couldn't get the interviewee list down below seven. It is encouraging to see young people taking courses and becoming prepared to become environmental professionals. It's terribly discouraging to see that there are very few outlets for them.
If you want to protect the environment, I don't think you do it by putting all the power in the hands of the minister, but you do creative things where employment is provided for in professional capacity.
One thing that could be done, and there are hundreds of them, would be to pass a bill or consider a voluntary regime where every corporation over a certain size would have an annual environmental audit. Think of how many certified accountants there are out there who work every year making sure that companies' annual statements are audited under generally accepted accounting procedures. Doing that would signal the intention of this government to protect the environment and to encourage a private sector to develop with consultants for environmental auditing.
I appeal to members of this committee to unite. Too often votes are government members against non-government members. I note that the name of this committee is the standing committee on resources development. I urge you to also be the standing committee on resources protection and to either substantially alter this bill through extensive consultation or ensure its withdrawal.
The Chair: That leaves us just fractionally over two minutes per caucus. We'll commence with the government.
Mr Carroll: Just a little clarification: You said that your organization and you were in favour of eliminating red tape, and you say in here on page 2, section 2, "there's nothing in the bill that in fact relates to improved efficiency."
One part of the bill eliminates the Ontario Waste Management Corp, which has spent $145 million of the taxpayers' money to accomplish what appears, in my estimation, to be absolutely nothing, and another part does away with the Environmental Compensation Corp, which spent $3 million to pay out less than $700,000 in claims.
If the elimination of those two do not in fact improve efficiency, then you and I come from a different place. Can you explain to me how you feel about the elimination of those two agencies and how come that has not improved efficiency?
Mr McCammon: Efficiency is based on the results. As I indicated during my presentation, Mr Carroll, we're in favour of identifying areas that are either duplications or in fact efficiencies can be obtained, but fundamentally I defined efficiency as the smooth functioning of resolving the tension between the conflicting mandates of protecting the environment and encouraging development on a model of sustainability.
Mr Carroll: What is wasting the taxpayers' money called?
Mr McCammon: I think I'd have to ask Brian Mulroney. Wasting the taxpayers' money is an economic reality that we do indeed have to deal with, but I don't believe that taking apart, completely dismantling a regulatory regime to ensure the long-term health of our resources and of our own children and grandchildren through biomagnification of toxic chemicals in our water and in our air is terribly sound. You may save $300 million this year, but if everybody's dying of cancer in their 50s and 60s 40 years from now, we haven't saved a penny.
Mrs McLeod: I agree with you that this bill is so vague that it would be impossible even to tell the government's intent from what's in the bill. So you make guesses as to what the government's intent is because, as you say, it's not being presented in an isolated context.
I guess what I'd like to ask you is bit of a complex question. Recognizing that there are concerns about the time it takes to get environmental approvals, that there is duplication of process at many points, do you think it is possible that in some areas a standardized approval process could be effective if the bill was much more specific in terms of where it was appropriate and where it was not appropriate? If you do think there are some areas where it could be effective, do you think that the Ministry of Environment would have the capacity to enforce even what it put in place?
Mr McCammon: I very much endorse that. I'll give you two examples, very briefly. One is that there's a proposal from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to develop a standard across Canada for environmental assessments. Currently, multinationals or transnationals in Canada might have to prepare very different types of environmental assessments, depending on the jurisdiction in which they want to do a certain operation. So if it's going to happen at that level, that's the type of standardization which is coming through the Canadian Standards Association in the ISO process. That type of initiative from the public to the private sector and without government, I think, has a tremendous amount of merit.
The proposals will be standardized, the criteria will be benchmarked and there'll be a quick thumbs-up, thumbs-down on whether or not the application would proceed, and then there'd be standardized mechanisms for actually evaluating it if it was to proceed.
On another element I mentioned earlier, environmental auditors, one of the other approaches within ISO 14000 is something called initial environmental review, which companies do in order to present proposals to any jurisdiction or indeed to bond markets for the release of issues of shares.
So there are all kinds of tremendous mechanisms within the new sphere of the way we have to do things which I endorse, but I don't think they're in any way talked about, encouraged or covered by any activity that this government's doing, nor certainly in this bill.
Mr Galt: I wonder if we could have that door closed. There's a fair amount of noise coming in from the hallway.
Ms Churley: I just want to respond to you and in response to Mr Carroll's question, because it's a very important one, around the getting rid of the OWMC, in particular, and the ECC. It was a good question, and I'll tell you what's wrong here: You're getting rid of the OWMC, which I don't think anybody disagrees with, given the final decision when we were in government, but the problem is our government had started to use that organization, and it doesn't have to be that, but as a way to promote a hazardous waste reduction strategy.
This government is getting rid of the OWMC but has also gotten rid of all of the hazardous waste programs that we put in place and were there before and has no plans for hazardous waste. That's why this is not efficient. You're dumping out the baby with the bathwater. So that's that issue.
On the ECC, again, it was doing its job. It's one of the few organizations I think we've ever seen in government that actually was coming in under budget. It was very, very carefully not paying out unnecessary moneys. It needs to be restructured, but it was doing a great job.
Part of the problem there is that most of the payments were going to municipalities, which were stuck with having to do cleanups because they couldn't get the money from the proponents, for a variety of reasons. They're not going to risk spending that money to clean up certain areas now because they know this fund isn't there. Down the road that's inefficient because there's not going to be anybody out there, including municipalities, to clean up the spills.
So again I say okay, change it, restructure it, but I think it's misleading the way it's being positioned. That's what I believe you're trying to say here, that if you're going to cut red tape -- and this is my view -- if you're going to cut red tape, which I don't disagree with, just cutting red tape, like cutting out these two organizations and not looking at restructuring them to deal with the problems that are still there -- that's the answer to your question, and that's a real problem that you now have.
The Chair: That's also the end of our time.
Ms Churley: Would you agree with that? Yes or no?
The Chair: Thank you, Ms Churley, and thank you very much for taking the time to appear before us with your presentation.
Mr McCammon: What she said.
The Chair: We appreciate it.
Mr McCammon: Thank you.
The Chair: That leads us now to the next presentation from the Urban Development Institute. I believe they're out in the hall, if someone could -- oh, there's Mr Kaiser.
URBAN DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE/ONTARIO
The Chair: Welcome. Welcome back, actually. Again, we have 20 minutes for you to divide as you see fit between presentation and question-and-answer time.
Mr Stephen Kaiser: Thank you very much, Mr Chair. We apologize for the noise outside. The home builders were just conducting a tour of the building and visiting the Lieutenant Governor's residence, so they were slightly boisterous when they left.
As you know, my name is Stephen Kaiser and I'm president of the Urban Development Institute. With me is Mr Reg Webster, president of the firm G.M. Sernas and Associates, a firm of consulting engineers and planners that is active throughout Ontario and one of our member companies.
I would like to thank you for allowing me the opportunity of providing our thoughts on Bill 57, the Environmental Approvals Improvement Act, from the perspective of the land development and home building industry. Our interest is focused on part II of the bill, which amends the Ontario Water Resources Act and makes provision for standardized approvals regulations.
Let me say at the outset that we support the government's direction, and believe these amendments will result in environmental regulation which is more relevant and responsive to today's economic circumstances. Before I expand on this point, however, I would like to describe briefly the role of the Urban Development Institute and the nature of its representation for the benefit of the committee.
For 40 years, the Urban Development Institute, or UDI, has acted as the voice of the land development, building and property management industry in the province of Ontario. The institute is a non-profit organization supported by its members, which include firms and individuals who own sizeable holdings of raw land, apartment units and commercial and industrial space. Our membership is engaged in all aspects of the planning and development of communities and the construction of residential, industrial and commercial projects. UDI serves as a forum for knowledge, experience and research on land-use planning and development.
Today, UDI's members include land developers, land use and environmental planners, investors, financial institutions, engineers, lawyers, economists, landscape architects, marketing and research firms and architects. Together they constitute the collective forces guiding the creation and improvement of Ontario's built environment.
The institute is a partner in UDI Canada, the coast-to-coast organization representing the national interests of the development community.
The land development and construction industry is vital to Ontario's economy. In 1992, the labour force was composed of at last 658,000 workers, or one out of every eight Ontario workers. The value of all construction work put in place at that time totalled just over $32 billion, or 12 per cent of the total economic output of this province.
Unfortunately, while the industry is so crucial to Ontario, it is also one of the most heavily regulated. Governed by 280 provincial acts, 60 codes and some 450 statutory orders and regulations and literally thousands of policies, it is an industry not even remotely out of control; rather, it is a grouping of companies that is clearly over-regulated and overtaxed.
The current government was elected on the premise that Ontario is open for business, and its stated objectives include reducing taxes and removing barriers to job creation, economic growth and investment. Indeed, a number of initiatives have already been advanced which confirm the government's commitment to reduce the extent of taxation and regulation affecting the development and home building industry.
In all of these reforms there is an understanding that economic health must be married with environmental health and a commitment to maintaining the high standards of environmental protection that Ontario is renowned for. The Bill 57 reforms and the standardized approvals approach which it promotes is a prime example of this commitment. Bill 57 will make the approvals process more appropriate and more effective by taking the province out of the business of micro-managing our industry and local government. It will also continue to protect the environment and the health of our communities. Let me explain how, at least as it relates to the activities of the development industry.
Currently, under the Ontario Water Resources Act, certificates of approval are required for all new water, sewage and stormwater management works, regardless of their scale or scope. The certificate is issued after the Ministry of Environment and Energy, MOEE, receives and approves an application and a supporting engineering submission from a proponent. The vast majority of the work consists of water distribution and sewage collection systems, which is the pipes and plumbing stations, and stormwater management facilities, which include detention and retention points which control the quantity and quality of stormwater flows. These works are designed by registered professional engineers and done to defined, well-understood practices and procedures that are based on predictable environmental impacts.
A thorough and costly technical review of the design and construction process is undertaken by the local municipality, and often by the regional municipality as well, to ensure conformity with the appropriate environmental standards. In the case of stormwater management, the works are usually subject to an additional review and approval by the local conservation authority and/or the Ministry of Natural Resources. In the end, the municipality is ultimately responsible for the operation, maintenance and ongoing performance of all these works, making the province's involvement redundant.
As such, an additional review by MOEE and the issuance of a certificate of approval is a rubber-stamp exercise only, representing duplication, added expense and little or no value added. Small- and large-scale site servicing projects are being delayed in the order of six to 10 weeks because reduced MOEE staffing levels and the sheer volume of applications prevents expeditious issuance of the certificates of approval. This delay in turn prevents house and building construction, which at any given time totals hundreds of millions of dollars, from proceeding as quickly as possible and has at times forced projects into an entirely new construction season.
The use of these standardized approvals and the elimination of the certificate of approval would eliminate this delay and allow municipalities and the development industry to proceed with routine works under a more predictable, streamlined schedule. Development projects would be able to proceed immediately after municipal approval has been granted, providing the works meet the standardized rules or conditions.
An introduction of the standardized approvals should also result in another important improvement over the current system. Today, the province, or in some cases the regional municipality, charges a fee for the issuance of a certificate of approval, calculated as a percentage of the capital costs of the project. On a $1-million sewer and watermain and stormwater project, the fee would amount to approximately $20,000. It in no way reflects the true cost of processing this application, which, as we said earlier, is a rubber-stamp approval anyway.
More importantly, this fee is effectively a double charge of the municipality's review fee, which is in the order of 4% of the capital costs of the works and in our example would cost the developer another $40,000. MOEE's certificate of approval fee, in its simplest terms, is an unnecessary and inappropriate tax which directly impacts the cost of every new house and business in this province. In fact, we found in a recent study that 25% of the cost of an average town house or starter home in the GTA is already taxes, fees and charges that total well over $30,000. This needs to be reduced.
However, under the new system, if the project satisfies the standardized approval conditions and does not require the MOEE to issue a certificate of approval, then we are assuming that the associated fee is no longer required as well. This will translate into more cost-effective development projects and will begin to chip away at that $30,000 number I referred to above.
In summary, we believe the Bill 57 reforms and the standardized approvals approach are targeted to ensure that environmental regulation is simply more relevant and responsive to today's economic circumstances. We support that direction, as indicated in our submission to the Red Tape Review Commission only one month ago. We believe that the reforms will help simplify rules and eliminate duplicative red tape and fees that we encounter each and every day, costing our industry hundreds of millions of dollars annually; will replace an outdated approvals approach with a new cost-effective alternative that encourages greater local government and industry involvement; and will provide our industry with the additional flexibility and certainty that we need to continue to invest in Ontario and provide the right environment for job creation, business competitiveness and housing affordability.
Thank you. Both Reg and I would be pleased to answer any questions that the committee might have.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Kaiser. That affords us two minutes per caucus for questioning. I'd like to just remind the caucus members we have an intensive schedule this afternoon. There will be a vote in the House at 6, so I ask you to try to keep on time. This time our questioning will commence with Mrs McLeod.
Mrs McLeod: Stephen, you and I have certainly had a lot of discussions about the cost of the approvals process in terms of adding to the cost of development. Having said that, there are a lot of concerns expressed about the particular way in which Bill 57 addresses the concerns and whether it is adequate either to streamline the process to make it more efficient or in fact to provide the balance for the environmental protection.
I guess one of the questions I would ask is whether you think -- and there's a vagueness to the bill. I think you'd have to acknowledge it's not very clear. We don't know the areas in which there are going to be exemptions and standardized approval regulations put in place, so there are a lot of unanswered questions. In terms of development activities, are there some areas that you feel would not be appropriate candidates to be exempt from the certificate of approval process?
Mr Reg Webster: Typically the approvals that we're talking about that we have to apply for are approvals relating to a private land developer implementing works. Those type of works are typically sewers, watermains, roads. In the discussion that we had with MOEE, and certainly in our submission to the red tape committee, there are other works -- a sewage treatment plant, for example, anything that is process related, something that may involve new technology -- we're not recommending that those would be included under SARs. On the other hand, it would be unusual for a land developer to physically implement those. Those are normally implemented by municipalities.
Mrs McLeod: This may be a bit of an esoteric question, but I'm curious to know if you've had a chance to look at it in detail where it allows a certificate of approval to have been deemed to be in place. I don't know if you've had a chance to look at that, whether you have any idea when that might be used, why the government would feel the need to have that power to deem a certificate of approval to be in place retroactively.
Mr Webster: I really couldn't answer that question. I haven't looked at it in that much detail.
The Chair: Ms Churley.
Ms Churley: How much time?
The Chair: Two minutes.
Ms Churley: I can't cover it all in two minutes. I'm just curious. I don't know a whole lot about sewage treatment but I do know that there are huge human health aspects to sewage treatment and it has a lot of huge environmental impacts. I just find it kind of bizarre and maybe I'm not understanding what you're suggesting there, that those kinds of megaprojects would be included in this kind of cookbook scenario -- you get the recipe then go do it. As far as I know, you at this point can't even provide for stormwater management, so rather than build the stormwater pond yourself, you pay the MTRCA in lieu for them to do it. You do do that. I'm just really concerned about this suggestion, as you can tell. I think it's a bad idea for these and other reasons.
Mr Webster: As I indicated, we're certainly not recommending that they apply to a sewage treatment plant, that type of process. We're not recommending that. It's typically the type of works that a land developer would implement, which are normally the sewers and the watermains that go in a road in front of your house.
Ms Churley: But this act was first brought in -- the history of is that exactly for these reasons -- downwater problems, the farmer down the road, that sort of thing, because there were class action cases and all kinds of problems. In fact, it's interesting that's why this act in the 1950s, I believe, was brought in, because so many problems can come from that kind of activity as well.
Mr Kaiser: If I could just speak to that, I think what we're saying is what is happening now and what we're a proponent of and speaking to today is that the applications we're sending off are truly being just rubber-stamped and returned. The people who are reviewing those applications in no way possess the same credentials as the people who actually are putting the reports forward, so it truly is a rubber-stamp exercise.
Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce): I guess that sort of leads me to my support of Ms McLeod's comments, because I am a member of the red tape committee, if you remember, and I was there when your presentation was made. I do agree with you that there seems to be an overlap of servicing here. Acknowledging the fact that we're looking for the environmental balance here, as well as practical application, I would ask you this. One sheet of your submission includes a breakout of charges, and for the record purposes, for those who wouldn't know these numbers, you exemplify a typical house in the region of York with a price tag of $160,000, and then you are able to break out pretty decisively 24% of that being accounted to total tax fees and charges. I would suggest, perhaps for the sake of the committee, that it might be wise for us to -- if not today because of a two-minute limit here, maybe if you would give us a further submission as to where you could see some type of a combination of those types of fees charges where the duplication happens because, it's the same body but another charge -- some recommendations to the committee as we go through this process as to how some of those might be amalgamated or combined, and give some indication from your association's perspective of who should actually be rubber-stamping, since we do have professionals in the field who are much more adequately trained to certify and make approvals, who the appropriate body would be to in fact certify some of these processes. I think it would be very valuable to the committee if you wouldn't mind undertaking to do that.
Mr Kaiser: In answer to the question, we'd be more than happy to look at those numbers and provide something back to the committee in terms of some areas, as suggested. Truly, the taxes, fees and charges combined are a huge obstacle to home ownership for a number of people in this province. It's something that is very near and dear to our heart.
The Chair: I think, Ms Fisher, it might be more appropriate -- once we're finished with this specific bill, the committee certainly does have the power to conduct hearings and ask for witnesses on topics such as the ones we are dealing with today. I think such a motion would be in order as soon as Bill 57 hearings have concluded.
Mrs McLeod: Mr Chairman, as a point of order: I wonder if there would be at that point in time further information about what new fees the governments intends to charge under Bill 57, if it has become law at that point.
The Chair: I think, Mrs McLeod, you would have every right to ask for the officials to come forward and ask probing questions at that time.
Thank you both for taking the time to make a presentation before us here today. We appreciate it.
The Chair: Which leads us now to the Ontario Mining Association. I wonder if they could come forward, please.
Mr Carroll: It's interesting, Mr Chairman, just for the record, I don't have the amount, but $19,700 of it is in development charges to the municipality and the region.
The Chair: Thank you.
ONTARIO MINING ASSOCIATION
The Chair: Good afternoon, gentlemen, and welcome to the committee. Again, we have 20 minutes. Feel free to divide them as you see fit.
Mr James Fisher: Thank you. Good afternoon, Mr Chair and ladies and gentlemen of the committee. My name is Fisher; I'm manager of environmental services at the Ontario Mining Association. I'm here on behalf of the Ontario Mining Association. With me is Mr Charles Ferguson, vice-president of environment, health and safety at Inco Ltd, Toronto.
By way of introductory remarks, the Ontario Mining Association, chartered in 1920, is one of the oldest industrial associations in Canada. The OMA membership consists of approximately 45 companies, of which 35 are mining companies and 10 are suppliers of equipment and services to the mining industry.
Our members make a vital contribution to the economic strength of Ontario. An Ernst and Young report commissioned by the OMA dated October 1996 states that in 1995 mining contributed an estimated $6.6 billion in personal and corporate income, approximately 107,000 jobs and $1.5 billion in government revenue. Given the economic significance of mining to the province, it is imperative that government and industry develop the legislation and policy initiatives which stimulate growth in this sector and, at the same time, protect the environment. The OMA has had a long-standing interest in these goals.
First, I want to talk about the Environmental Protection Act regulations, and the first part is the exempting regulations. The amendments providing for the exemption of certain activities from requiring certificates of approval, ie, the approval-exempting regulations, are acceptable to the Ontario Mining Association membership. Similarly, the OMA supports the so-called concept of standardized approvals. We believe these initiatives are positive steps in reducing bureaucratic process, and therefore protection of the environment becomes more expedient by quicker implementation of abatement measures.
The OMA is not able to comment further on these amendments because the regulations describing the substantive elements of these powers are not available.
As far as fees are concerned, our members are actively involved in environmental protection, and the OMA has made several submissions to government regarding the existing fee structure for certificates of approval. The OMA believes that fees should not be assessed for those projects which protect or improve the environmental conditions at or near a mine site. In the past, the approvals branch of the Ministry of Environment and Energy has advised the mining industry that fees for certificates of approval relate to the administrative costs of reviewing the applications for approvals.
The proposed clause 175.1(c)(iii) in Bill 57 provides the government and its agents with the authority to require payment of fees for activities which are exempted from requiring certificates of approval. In our view, this seems contrary to the fairness aspect of regulatory reform, because fees will be levied for which no review occurs. Consequently, the OMA does not support the concept of fee payments for activities for which a certificate of approval is not required.
As far as quality criteria are concerned, subsection 175.1(g) provides the ministry with the regulatory authority to define the desirable quality criteria of the natural environment. In developing these quality criteria, we strongly urge the ministry to account for the natural variability of background levels across the province. Such variability is often related to vast changes in regional geology.
This is an important consideration. Ministry field staff often rely on quality criteria data developed in southern Ontario, for example, sediment quality guidelines, and apply these values at mine sites underlain by the Precambrian Shield. In these situations, background levels are different from southern Ontario values, and the possibility of meeting these requirements is remote.
As far as the adoption of codes and regulations is concerned, the OMA is strongly opposed to adopting codes, protocols, procedures etc by reference in regulations. Referencing codes in regulations avoids normal regulatory review and results in compliance with additional pseudo-law without the benefit of stakeholder input. This method of introducing and applying such standards not only occurs within regulations but also occurs repeatedly within other legal instruments such as certificates of approval.
Past experience in the mining sector has shown that oftentimes codes and protocols were written as guides or best-practice manuals and were not drafted or intended to be used as regulatory instruments. Because codes and protocols are generally prescriptive and detailed in nature, they would add considerably to the red-tape burden on the industry with little or no benefit to the environment.
The incorporation of codes significantly adds to the regulatory burden, introduces considerable confusion because of poorly drafted detailed requirements and enhances the associated liabilities of non-compliance. For example, five protocols are referenced in the existing metal mining sector MISA regulation. One of these protocols contains over 160 pages. This regulation stipulates compliance with all these protocols, resulting in thousands of prescriptive requirements and an additional 343 pages of text added to an already complex and onerous 12-page regulation.
Codes, protocols and procedure manuals are useful tools but they should not have legal effect. Clearly an alternative approach is needed to address this situation, otherwise the regulatory streamlining will never, in reality, be fulfilled.
Under the Ontario Water Resources Act, the amendments that we'd like to speak to deal first of all with the closure of waterworks and sewage works.
The Mining Act requires mining companies to file closure plans with the mining and land management branch of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. These closure plans address the closure of waterworks and sewage works. The proposed amendment to subclause 75(1)(s)(iii) deals with the closure of such works and does not account for the requirement of closure plans filed pursuant to the Mining Act.
In the interests of reducing red tape, the OMA believes the government should recognize the closure plan requirements and perhaps exempt such works from this section.
In summary, I would just like to say that the Ontario Mining Association supports the efforts of the government in reducing bureaucratic process while at the same time maintaining environmental protection. The OMA would be pleased to participate in the review of the draft regulations pursuant to the amendments set out in Bill 57.
The Chair: That affords us just over two and a half minutes per caucus. This time the questioning will commence with Ms Churley.
Ms Churley: Thank you very much for your presentation. I'm wondering if your support of this bill to some extent is conditional on what the regulations say. For me, it's a problem not having regulations in front of me and I'm just wondering how much of a problem that is for you in terms of your support.
Mr Fisher: As I mentioned earlier, it's difficult to make any positive support comment without seeing the draft regulations, but we do support the concept of exemption regulations and standardized approval regulations.
Ms Churley: But in terms of what's on that list -- and that's a problem for me; we don't know what's going to be involved yet. I think everybody supports reducing red tape. We have differences of opinion of course on what that means, which we won't get into here.
I wanted to quickly ask you, you mention the protocols and you're saying that clearly an alternative approach is needed. Do you have suggestions for an alternative approach, which the Chair will allow you to answer right now in probably the 10 seconds you have left?
Mr Charles Ferguson: I believe we should be obliged to satisfy the requirements in the regulations. How we go about it -- good management practice -- should be our decision. How we manage ourselves, how we operate should remain a management tool; that should not be included in the regulation. Tell us what you want; don't tell us how to do it.
Mr Fisher: And as far as the incorporation of protocols into regulations, it seems to me, as I mentioned, that these are primarily designed as operation manuals and not for legislative purposes.
Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): Thanks very much, gentlemen, for your presentation. We've heard a few examples of things that people believe should have standardized approvals and not be subject to the current approvals process in different industries. I wonder if, off the tops of your heads, in your industry there are some glaring examples of things that you could give us that don't really need to have a whole approval process.
Mr Ferguson: Yes, I could think of a few. Typically, in a mine, because the air in northern Ontario gets cold in the wintertime, you have to put heaters in the air that goes down underground. So you buy these very large gas heaters to heat the air that goes underground. You have to get each one approved.
Who's going to change them? It's like buying a furnace in your own house. You don't have to approve that. You buy a heater or something and you install it. There isn't any contribution made to examining the fact that you're going to a store and buying a heater to install to warm up air. That's the kind of thing that one would assume, since you can predict the outcome, since it's standard equipment, that does not need any examination. We might have 150 of those, which means that we have 150 certificates of approval for them. I'm sure the Ministry of Environment and Energy would love not to have to approve those either.
Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): If you have more than one heater, do you have to have more than one approval?
Mr Ferguson: Yes, because I'm talking individual ones. There'd be 150 separate ones.
Mr Galt: Just to put on the record the fact that we've been talking about standardized approvals under conditions that are predictable and controllable and understandable. We did distribute a little earlier some candidates for possible standardized approval regulations, so it is in front of you and available. Some suggestions; it's certainly not the total list. I'm sure there's going to be all kinds that can be identified as the years go by, but certainly these are some examples that may be looked at and used.
Mrs McLeod: You're not the first presenters who have expressed some concern about the fact that under the bill, the regulatory process could in fact become quite prescriptive; not necessarily so, but it could.
The area I'd like to ask you about is, you're the first I've heard who has pointed out the concern about the variability from one region to another. It's something I agree with and I think we have to be very conscious of in any kind of regulation the government does. How do you reconcile that with the support for standardized approvals? Do you see a tension between those two things?
Mr Fisher: What we're talking about, in terms of taking account of regional variability, deals with the quality criteria and not necessarily standardized approval for various pieces of equipment.
Mrs McLeod: So can I take from that then that when you express support for standardized approval processes or the exemption, there are very specific things that you would see as appropriate candidates and there are other things that you would see as to be entirely inappropriate because it would not reflect some of the realities in different regions?
Mr Ferguson: Perhaps I could contribute here. When quality criteria developed, if the area of Ontario is limited to southern Ontario where there are no metals, you're not going to find any metals and you're going to have very low background levels. But northern Ontario is underlain by the Precambrian Shield and you can often find mines by looking at sediment values because soils often reflect the minerals which they were ground down from and produced from.
The presence of heavy metals, the copper, nickel, lead and zinc that are mined in northern Ontario, are found in the soils and they're going to be vastly different from the kind of soils that one would find in typical southern Ontario soils where there's a complete absence of metals. So when you've set the standard background levels, you can't exclude where you find them and I don't think it's logical to expect the natural background in soils around mining companies to be the same as the natural background in Huron county, as an example.
The Chair: Thank you both for taking the time to make a presentation before us here today. We appreciate it.
CANADIAN INSTITUTE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL LAW AND POLICY
The Chair: Which leads us now to the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy, if they could come forward. Good afternoon and welcome to the committee.
Ms Anne Mitchell: Good afternoon, Mr Chairman. Thank you very much for the opportunity to come and address you today and also to the members of the committee.
My name is Anne Mitchell. I'm executive director of the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy, and I have with me Dr Mark Winfield, who is the director of research of the institute. I'm going to make a few introductory remarks. Dr Winfield is going to look at several of our specific concerns with Bill 57 and then I'm going to make a couple of concluding remarks. But before I do that, I'd like to give you a little bit of background about CIELAP.
The Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy was established in 1970, so for 25 years we have been working on developing laws and policies to protect the environment in the province of Ontario and Canada.
We were established in response to the continuing need for objective analyses in environmental law and policy. We're independent of both government and industry. We're a national, charitable, not-for-profit research and education institute committed to reforming environmental law and public policy for the public good in Canada.
Our mission is to provide leadership in the development of environmental law and policy that promotes the public interest and the principles of sustainability, including the protection of the health and wellbeing of present and future generations and of the natural environment. We've been doing this work for 25 years in this province.
We're pleased to be given the opportunity to address your committee on Bill 57. We're deeply concerned by the contents of this bill and we don't support it in principle. It's our view that the bill proposes some of the most significant amendments to be made to the Ontario Water Resources Act and the Environmental Protection Act since their enactment in 1956 and 1971.
We are disappointed and concerned by the short time period which has been provided for presentations to your committee and therefore the small number of witnesses who probably have been able to appear.
We feel that Bill 57 requires careful study and consideration by your committee. The bill raises a number of very serious legal and constitutional issues. The bill proposes an extraordinary grant of authority to Lieutenant Governor in Council over matters dealt with by the EPA and the OWRA.
In addition, in our view, it would limit the rights of Ontarians to protect their persons and the enjoyments of their property from environmental harm as a result of government negligence. It would permit certificates of approval to be deemed to exist under the EPA and OWRA under certain circumstances, and it would allow municipalities to be designated as directors for the purposes of the EPA. The bill would also dissolve the Environmental Compensation Corp and the Ontario Waste Management Corp.
I'm now going to ask Dr Winfield to address some of our specific concerns with the bill.
Dr Mark Winfield: There are eight areas which I'm going to address in my remarks as briefly as possible. The first relates to the proposed addition of subsections 175.1(a) and 175.1(b) to the Environmental Protection Act and the parallel addition of subsections 76(a) and (b) to the Ontario Water Resources Act.
The language contained in these sections is extraordinarily broad, and the proposed amendments would permit the cabinet effectively to exempt any person or activity from the requirements of either act. This could, for example, involve the waiving of existing statutory requirements from public hearings before the approval of major landfills or hazardous waste incinerators.
The bill would also permit the cabinet to make regulations controlling or prohibiting virtually any activity which falls under the jurisdiction of the EPA or the OWRA. In effect, the bill would permit the cabinet to repeal virtually any provision of these statutes and to replace it with whatever it chooses to put in place.
This raises serious questions concerning the potential for arbitrary decision-making and, more broadly, the impact of such provisions on the principles of the rule of law and of responsible government.
Drafting of this nature contradicts the clear recommendations made by standing committees of this Legislature, the federal Parliament, regarding the drafting of enabling legislation and specific recommendations regarding the avoidance of precisely this kind of drafting and the need for the Legislature to provide clear policy guidance in its drafting of legislation. Clearly those recommendations are not being followed in the drafting of this bill.
We are also deeply concerned by the proposed bar on civil actions in relation to exemptions granted from the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act approvals process. In effect what the bill is proposing is a bar on civil lawsuits by individual Ontarians against the government if their property or their persons are damaged as a result of exemptions from environmental law as granted through the bill. This is really quite a remarkable provision because in effect it is an admission by the government that harm to property or persons is likely to occur as a result of exemptions granted from environmental laws under this bill.
Third, we are concerned by the proposed designation of municipalities as directors for the purposes of the Environmental Protection Act. The scope of this designation is unclear and, as drafted, is essentially universal. We have very serious concerns about the capacity of municipalities to take on the responsibilities of the ministry, particularly in the context of reductions in provincial funding to municipalities which have been made by the government. We have concerns about the potential for conflict of interest where municipalities are in the position to grant approvals for undertakings for which they are in fact the proponent or the sponsor or the supporter, and we're also concerned about the implications for the accountability of decision-making to the Legislature under these statutes when municipalities are in effect making decisions on behalf of the minister.
Fourth, we are concerned about the provisions that permit the deeming of certificates of approval to exist under the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act. We assume that this is related to the as-yet-undefined standardized approval process, but we don't know, and the language is in no way limited to that. In effect this would allow the cabinet to deem that a certificate of approval exists regardless of whether there's been review by the ministry or not. We are deeply concerned by this because, first of all, we're not actually clear on the legal status of the deemed certificate, and we've consulted with many legal experts and they don't know. There is a potential that it does provide statutory authorization as a normal certificate of approval would, and that has quite serious implications in terms of limiting the rights in common law of owners and occupiers of lands to take action to protect their property from damage as a result of pollution.
Fifth, we are concerned about the provisions related to the imposition of fees under the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act. In principle, we support the notion of the province attempting to establish a cost recovery regime for the approvals system. However, we have a lot of concern about the breadth of the drafting of these provisions and, in particular, the potential that members of the public might be charged fees for access to documents and other materials related to proposed environmental approvals, and that obviously has implications in terms of accountability and the ability of members of the public to participate in decisions.
Sixth, like a number of the industry representatives you've heard today and earlier, we are concerned by the proposals related to the incorporation of codes of conduct into regulations. There are serious concerns about the processes by which such codes might be developed. Typically, if they're industry codes, that process has been limited to the members of the industry in question. There are questions of accountability, the appropriateness of their drafting, and there are also quite serious concerns, if these codes are to become part of public law, about their accessibility to members of the public. Our experience has illustrated that these things are often hard to get hold of and when you can get your hands on them, they turn out to be extraordinarily expensive to get a copy.
Seventh, we are concerned about the dissolution of the Environmental Compensation Corp. We are frankly baffled as to what the justification for the dissolution of this organization is. It appears to have been performing a number of important functions very efficiently, in particular ensuring that innocent victims of spills and innocent parties who take action to clean up spills voluntarily receive compensation, and it's not at all clear to us why this organization is being dissolved.
Finally, with respect to the dissolution of the Ontario Waste Management Corp and the repeal of the OWMC act, we have no objection to the notion of repealing the OWMC act per se, but this leaves unanswered all the questions around the handling of hazardous waste and liquid industrial waste in this province which led to the creation of the corporation in the first place. We note that the ministry's own generator registration database and data available through the national pollutant release inventory and also the Provincial Auditor's report from last week all point that there continue to be quite serious problems in this area. There is some initial evidence that in fact these problems might even be growing. As a result, the institute, if no one else intends to, does intend to conduct a policy review in this area in the coming months.
Ms Mitchell: In conclusion, as you can see from our statement, we are concerned about the provisions of this bill. It appears to have been drafted to provide extremely broad enabling authority to the Lieutenant Governor in Council before the government itself understands how this authority might be used.
The passage of the bill under such circumstances would, in our view, set a dangerous precedent. The effective result of the bill's enabling provisions would be to permit the Lieutenant Governor in Council to replace the EPA and the OWRA with whatever it chooses to put in place. No further reference to the Legislature for authority to expand, amend or repeal the most basic elements of environmental law in Ontario will be required. Seen in this way, the bill constitutes an attack on the principles of the rule of law in that the executive, rather than the Legislature, would now be in a position to establish the parameters of its own authority. Bypassing of the Legislature in this manner also raises a serious challenge to the principles of responsible government.
Given these considerations, we would recommend that Bill 57 does not go forward in its present form, that the bill should be withdrawn and the government should come forward with new legislation seeking the authority to implement specific proposals for the reform of the environmental approvals process once these proposals have been fully developed.
I'd just like to finish with a comment. I don't know if you've seen the information from one of the Environics polls: How should governments deal with the environment while cutting budgets in all areas? Of those polled, 30% of the public say the government should respond quickly and make laws stricter; 52% say the government should respond slowly and continuously, making laws stricter; 13% say the government should maintain existing laws but not make them stricter; but only 3% say to remove some requirements from existing laws. I'd ask you to consider that as well in your deliberations.
The Chair: Thank you. That affords us just slightly less than two minutes per caucus for questioning. We'll commence this round with the government.
Mr Carroll: I believe very strongly in the need to protect the environment. We all need to live in this world here. There is a situation that was pointed out to me in my constituency of a company that wanted to improve its environmental discharge by putting in a new piece of equipment. They couldn't do it until they got approval. To discharge something as innocuous as warm air into the environment requires environmental approval. Will you not accept the fact that there are several activities that, with proper standards in place, we could trust people to go ahead and do without the need for government intervention? Is there nothing that we can do?
Dr Winfield: I think the rules which have been established over the last 25 years -- it's a myth to think that it has at any time been easy to make environmental laws and environmental standards in this province. It's been extraordinarily difficult. We start from the assumption that the rules which exist have usually been put there for a reason, usually related to disaster or merely apprehended disaster. One needs to think very carefully about removing those kinds of rules. There may well be some cases where such changes are appropriate, but they need to be examined very, very carefully and thought through very, very carefully before proceeding.
We've reviewed the government's proposals for regulatory reform in great detail. We submitted a 70-page brief in response. We've been through the ministry staff's own notes on the regulatory reform proposals, and we just don't see either this ministry's staff's notions or any reflection on the history of how we got here in what the government has proposed. I don't know how else to put it. We are in favour of sensible reform of environmental regulation. It's part of what we've worked for for 25 years. But it's not what we're seeing.
Mrs McLeod: I appreciate the work you did on this brief and look forward to reading it in detail. I appreciate your presentation had to be a bit rushed.
I was pleased to see that you had spent some time on this whole issue of deeming, so I'll just take a minute and ask you to reflect further on that, because you've offered some legal concerns. I guess I'm asking you to take a guess at intent. A lot of what we're doing with this bill is guessing at what intent might be. Do you have any sense of why the deeming provision would even need to be here when the exempting provisions are so broad? Can you imagine any situation in which deeming would somehow be used as opposed to a straight exemption?
Dr Winfield: I think what they're contemplating, as I understand it -- and as I say, none of this is clear at all. It's very fuzzy in the Responsive Environmental Protection consulting paper and even in the technical annex what it is that is actually proposed. It seems that what the government intends is to exempt certain categories of activities altogether from the approval process, and then with certain other categories of activities to continue to require some sort of permit-by-rule system where you'd have to demonstrate some compliance with some kind of code, and when you did that, that is when the deeming process would kick in. You would in effect file a notice with the ministry that you had complied with some code or some standard, and then these provisions would be used to automatically deem that a certificate exists. I think that's the use they intend. So in effect an approval would be said to exist even though there had been no formal review by the ministry.
Mrs McLeod: I appreciate that.
Ms Churley: Were you consulted? Was CIELAP consulted on these changes for this bill? Were you consulted in any way?
Dr Winfield: No.
Ms Churley: Mr Chair, I just have to say and put on the record that I find it absolutely appalling and disgraceful that an organization with high-quality environmental lawyers and policy experts has not been consulted about changes to something they have been involved in for 25 years. I think that's part of the problem we're having here with these laws and changes being developed without consultation. I know there are huge differences between the government's concept of protecting the environment and the environmental groups'. That's clear. But to leave them out is just creating this big gulf between the two which is getting worse.
You have presented to us some really important legal implications to this bill as well which have not been, in my view, taken into account.
I guess because there is so little time I just want to thank you for at least coming before the committee and presenting us with some of the problems that you see with the bill. Hopefully we will have some clause-by-clause time that we can take the opportunity to review your comments, and perhaps all of us together can find ways to make amendments that can reflect some of the major concerns you have about the bill.
The Chair: Thank you both for coming and appearing before us here this afternoon. We certainly appreciate it.
ONTARIO FOREST INDUSTRIES ASSOCIATION
The Chair: Next up will be the Ontario Forest Industries Association. Good afternoon and welcome to the committee.
Ms Marie Rauter: Good afternoon. I can say that you must really be committed to the task, because I haven't seen any one of you get up and wander around, and it's awfully warm in here.
Interjection: We're not allowed to do that.
Ms Rauter: Oh, you're not allowed to do that. Sorry about that.
Well, thank you very much, and thank you for giving us this opportunity. I am Marie Rauter, president of the Ontario Forest Industries Association, and I have with me today Craig Gammie, who is our manager on environment and energy issues. I am probably going to give you a relatively short presentation, so we'll either have lots of time for questions or I'll get you ahead of schedule.
A little bit of background. We are the Ontario Forest Industries Association. We are a trade association. We represent 20 member companies. Some of our companies are large pulp and paper companies and some of them are small, family-owned sawmills that have been in existence for several generations. Our companies perform forestry operations and manufacture pulp, paper, paperboard, lumber, plywood, panelboard, veneer, the total gambit of forest products. We represent an industry which employs about 63,000 Ontarians. We have sales of $11 billion and we have international exports of $5.3 billion. We are one of the largest exporting industries and help to contribute to our balance of trade.
As an industry, we are committed to good stewardship of our air, our water and our land resources. In addition, we recognize the importance of ensuring that the environmental protection system is efficient and that environmental expenditures, both private and public, provide the best possible environmental return.
We are thus supportive of the thrust and the momentum of the Ministry of Environment and Energy regulatory review process and the proposals as described in the discussion document Reforming Environmental and Energy Regulation in Ontario. The document does indicate an understanding of the regulatory reform challenge, and it is a challenge; namely reducing costs and barriers and, if I can only emphasize, without loss of environmental protection. I think sometimes when we talk about reducing costs, we lose sight of the need still for environmental protection, and it provides a platform for moving into implementation and for moving us into the future.
As part of our contribution to the regulatory review, we identified some of the limitations inherent in a traditional regulatory approach to environmental protection and have, in our submission to the MOEE entitled Beyond Compliance: Toward a Continual Improvement System of Environmental Protection in Ontario's Forest Industries, proposed an alternative to the traditional regulatory process. It's a process based on the philosophy of continual improvement. We feel that moving to the continual improvement approach will reduce costs of the environmental protection system while maintaining environmental integrity.
I have several copies of Beyond Compliance with me, and for any of you who have not seen it, you're more than welcome to have a copy. I have copies for distribution afterwards.
In keeping with our Beyond Compliance philosophy, our members support any government initiative which can reduce process, which can improve effectiveness and efficiency while still retaining a commitment to environmental standards. We believe this legislation helps to meet these goals.
In particular, we support the provisions of Bill 57 which amend the regulation-making authority of the Ontario Water Resources Act and the Environmental Protection Act to allow the application of standardized approval regulations to all types of approval, including air, water, sewage and solid waste.
Approval: We require certificates of approval for just about any equipment or process change for which air emissions are involved. EPA section 53 also requires certificates of approval for just about any equipment or process change for which emissions to water are involved. For the pulp and paper sector, these C of A requirements are not only extremely costly but also, we feel, environmentally unnecessary. Thus we are supportive of the proposal to develop and to use alternatives to these formal C of A requirements, namely approval exemption regulations and standardized approval regulations.
To give you some examples, over the past several years the cost to the pulp and paper industry alone for preparation and submission of C of A requests and for payment of fees has been not in the thousands but in the millions of dollars. The existing framework of federal and Ontario statutes, regulations and guidelines, when considered exclusive of C of A requirements, provides that broad and comprehensive regulation of the pulp and paper industry. C of As address the same issues as are addressed by the existing statutes, regs and guidelines. There is, therefore, a very costly overlap and duplication of purpose.
We feel that in addition to the high costs associated with the C of A process, the entire exercise has not resulted in any additional environmental benefit or protection beyond what is provided by existing statutes, regulations and guidelines. The whole formal approvals process seems redundant and unnecessary.
A case in point are the C of As required for installation of secondary treatment facilities at Ontario pulp and paper mills over the last few years under the Ontario Water Resources Act. These treatment systems were designed by qualified, experienced consulting firms, yet a C of A which included a government review of the design was required for each system. You heard earlier that one was required for each heater; we require one for each system. These C of As provided no additional value to the environment in the form of better protection, or to the industry in the form of better improvement or improved process, or to government. But the C of As were costly; it cost our companies $100,000 per mill for fees alone. The sole net result or outcome of these C of As seems to have been only red tape and paperwork.
We feel that the best alternative to the approvals process for these types of undertakings is exemption using the AERs, or the approval-exempting regulations. From our perspective, for pulp and paper facility water and air emission control applications, such AERs would minimize red tape and cost while maintaining environmental confidence. On the other hand, we are aware that there is reluctance to developing these for such major activities.
The SARs are less preferred but are a viable alternative to the formal approvals process and, if developed for our industry, would eliminate much unnecessary duplication of effort and associated cost. In addition, we understand that there is little reluctance to developing and using the SAR tool. We therefore support the development and use of these as regulatory instruments and support that part of Bill 57 which provides for the use of standardized approvals for air, water and sewage applications.
On the issue of fees, we would like to see section 175 rephrased so that fees would not be charged for any activity that would reduce emissions. Fees for emissions reduction projects are a punitive disincentive, while waiving fees for emissions reduction initiatives provides incentive to proactively improve environmental performance.
In conclusion, we support the thrust and the intent of this legislation and we believe it will help to improve the efficiency of environmental approvals. We would, however, like to see it go a step further and show that the government supports the emission improvements of industry by eliminating any approval fees for emissions reduction undertakings.
I also would like to respond to some comments made by an earlier presenter when I first came into the room with respect to this document, Bill 57, and some of the other regulatory changes, saying that there were no standards for industry, that there were some real problems with the reduction of the AOX, that we were eliminating the problems that we had with toxicity.
In our Beyond Compliance we have a proposal put forward where it would establish standards between industry and government. It would be a contractual agreement. For any of you who remember the forest management agreements, those were contractual agreements between industry and government. If you have that kind of contractual agreement, you can establish your priorities. You would establish your environmental priorities for the province and then, on a company-by-company basis, you can establish environmental priorities for a particular region. If you're on the Great Lakes it's going to be different than if you're in a northern community, and if you're on the water it's going to be different than if you're off the water. You have that kind of flexibility.
What you also have the ability to do is to move beyond the traditional approach of regulation. When we started thinking about the environment, regulation was the way to go. It was our first step. But as society progresses, there are alternatives to regulations. Regulations, in our view, are managing to minimum standards. You only manage to what your competitor has to manage for. If you're into a continual improvement process, you go beyond those minimum standards, you eliminate a lot of uncertainty that you have in regulations and you can use your commitment to environment and moving forward as a competitive edge. Continual improvement can really be used as a positive tool for moving the environment yet for reducing a lot of the red tape, a lot of the process, a lot of the costs that we have in the traditional regulatory framework.
The Chair: I certainly don't mean to impinge on your time, Ms Rauter. At the outset, I didn't know if you were joking about letting us out early. I just wanted to pose to the committee that there will be a vote and the bells will start ringing at five to 6. We have one more presentation afterwards. I'm just wondering whether you would be so disposed if we were to either reduce the time slightly and just ask for brief comments from each of the three members, or alternatively, if we could come back after the vote if we have to split the presentation time.
Ms Churley: I'm willing to skip my question.
Mrs McLeod: I have just one very brief question, and it partly reflects the fact that the act is so broad and vague that I am having trouble getting a sense of its reach. Could you just tell me whether, when it comes to the exemption from certificates of approval, any areas that might be a candidate for that as it relates to the forest industries would have any relationship at all to the work that was done in the past EA on timber management?
Ms Rauter: Our Beyond Compliance proposal very closely relates to forest management agreements and some of the things that happened there. I find this legislation close to the enabling legislation that was put in as the Crown Forest Sustainability Forest Act. What we had some difficulty with there, though, is that we did not have the regulations in place. Here at least we have that regulatory review. This piece of legislation, in combination with the regulatory review, in combination with our Beyond Compliance, gives us some of the tools to move forward. I don't think you should look at one in isolation of the other ones. If you look at all three -- and I seriously would like you to take a close look at Beyond Compliance, because it gives you a way of ensuring environmental protection while reducing process and red tape, and lets things move forward very quickly. That doesn't mean government still isn't there to come in and do spot audits to make sure industry is doing well and moving forward, but it all has to be done together and then to move forward together.
Mr Galt: Thank you very much for the excellent presentation. We certainly appreciate the input.
The Chair: Thank you, Ms Rauter. I appreciate your indulgence. Perhaps if you could leave the clerk a copy of that, the tradeoff will be that I'll arm-twist all the members to ensure they read your report.
Ms Rauter: I would invite them all to read it and I would invite all of you to please give me a call and ask questions, because it's one way to offset the concerns that you're going to be getting from some of the environmental groups and also for government to cut back on process and costs but still ensure environmental protection.
The Chair: With that, we're on to our last presentation of the day, Mrs Mary Field. Good afternoon.
Mrs Mary Field: Thank you, Mr Chairman and committee members. It's certainly a privilege to come all the way in from my little farm in Port Dover to speak to this group. I have a brief video which they're working on. We'll wait until they're finished, because I would like the remote to fast-forward through parts of it.
The Chair: I'm told we don't have a remote.
Mrs Field: With your indulgence, Mr Chair, we'll just slip through this. I'm going to ask them to push fast-forward at various moments.
This, for example, is a boar that was in the top 10% of the genetic herd in the province and in Canada, which convulsed and died as a result of a pollutant.
If you could just fast-forward for a few minutes, this shows thin, emaciated pigs that are -- oops, we went past some abortions. It's really going. I think you get the general idea: We had abortions.
Here's an animal, a beautiful purebred Yorkshire sow. There's a death. Here's another one that as a result of salt poisoning died shortly after that. You see it staggering around. We had abortions, we had stressed animals and a tremendous amount of losses. This animal here has lost the control of her back legs. We had many like that that were not recoverable in any way. They had to be disposed of. Here's another tail-bitten one that, again, had to be disposed of. You can fast-forward it, please. I think that's about it.
That's just an overview. Sometimes visuals give you an impact of what we live through at home.
The issues that I wish to address are the following: liability insurance, the Environmental Compensation Corp and language as an exact art.
A case background: My husband, Jim, and I have farmed for many years. We have earned a reputation in our industry as being honest, fair and producing a high-quality, high-health purebred pig. It is a competitive industry and we have competed, shipping animals all over the world.
In 1987 we decided to develop an excellent health status herd. It required you to completely depopulate your herd, and piglets taken by Caesarean section went into building up the number of breeding animals in our herd. Our livestock was in demand to help other producers improve their herds, a move supported by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food to upgrade the health of the provincial herd. As you may know, Ontario's high-quality pork products are in demand around the world as a result of health and genetic efforts like ours. In 1990 we were ready for our first full year of production. An environmental spill ended that.
On liability: In mid-January 1990 our herd was demonstrating many strange problems. On the 29th a mature purebred Yorkshire boar convulsed and died. Piglets in the nursery were dying because their mothers were not milking. It got much worse. Keep in mind that these were purebred animals and our livelihood. We discovered the problem was a spill of salt solution from a gas well drilling operation on a farm north of ours.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Environment were called. Each felt it was the other's problem. Both did come, but MNR, which was responsible for the issuing of permits and establishing guidelines for the gas well and responsible for the protection of our fresh water as a result, had to have the location of the fresh water wells in our area faxed to them from the Ministry of Environment. I believe this is an argument for one ministry to oversee natural resources and the environment. These ministries often overlap and appear to work at odds with each other. Combining them would be more efficient, with one bureaucracy, and effect a big savings. It sounds like a commonsense solution to me.
MOE charged the well owner with polluting our fresh water source and he was eventually fined. Extensive testing by MOE provided the proof to do this, along with the past water tests that we had on our well.
In the meantime we were, and still are, having a very difficult time as a result of our sizeable losses. I made many phone calls -- hundreds might be accurate -- pleading for assistance to help us through the courts. We finally met with Howard Hampton, the Minister of Natural Resources at the time. We were then told about ECC. Our application was filed. We were instructed by ECC to sue everyone who stood to gain from the drilling of the well in an effort to recoup our losses, and if we were unable to collect we were to come back to ECC. I'd like assurance on this issue, that we will be treated fairly on this.
Suing for damages is a costly, long process. The land owner is an elderly widow lady. Suing her caused us much distress and many neighbours turned against Jim and me. The well driller was very hard to locate and claims to have no insurance. The well owner, we are told, has no insurance.
Please make liability insurance a mandatory part of getting permits for any environmentally sensitive work. In Honourable Mr Sterling's comments on Bill 57 in Hansard, September 25, page 4165, he states, "The court system remains there for people to gain compensation from those responsible for the spill." How and with what? Here we are faced with getting money from two government-licensed individuals who are not insured. How would that make you feel? After losing thousands of dollars' worth of livestock and potential sales as a result of this incident, money is difficult to find to continue our operation, let alone fund a lengthy court battle.
In his reasons for judgement following the charging of the driller in our case, Judge W. Brian Stead stated, "The Fields and the Masons" -- that was another farm affected -- "and other members of the public had no knowledge and no ability to control the situation." In his reasons for sentence, Judge Stead stated, "The general public has no way to protect themselves from situations such as arose in this case."
As an affected taxpayer, I implore this government to correct its legislation. This will happen again. Let us have a plan of action and protection for those affected. Governments are protectors of the public and, as such, a program like ECC should be in place as an avenue of last resort.
I believe land owners in an area where drilling or other environmentally sensitive work is going to take place should be notified. We had absolutely no knowledge. We might have been prepared through veterinary assistance and what not had we had knowledge of what was coming down the line at us. Water samples should be taken to establish water quality before any activity. Water is a very precious commodity. Issuing permits for this work should have mandatory liability insurance as a requirement. What better way to make this industry responsible for their actions? The insurance companies must be reliable also. The insurer for the land owner we had to sue has abandoned her.
I have covered my point on insurance and the need for it to be mandatory to protect the public and make the operators responsible. Now I'd like to speak on the Environmental Compensation Corp.
Careful examination will show that the program of support in ECC is good. It is the cost of administration that is the problem. Could this program not be dovetailed into a ministry only to be used as the need arose? I see the program as our source of last-hope survival. Lack of protection by government has left us, and probably many like us, unprotected and possibly unable to collect from the courts. However, we will have the heartache and the cost of trying.
I feel confident that with this brought to your attention you will correct the legislation for the future. Until these corrections are made, and for those of us caught in the middle of change, ECC, the program, must remain. In fact how would you have victims fund court action? I know as a taxpayer I helped Paul Bernardo, yet we have done no wrong and we are cut adrift to fend for ourselves.
My third point is one of language. In regulation 175 is a long list of "may make regulations exempting any person, licence holder, insurer, industry, contaminant" -- it goes on and on and on -- "or thing from any provision of this act and the regulations prescribing conditions for exemptions from this act and the regulations." Am I wrong? I looked at this and I thought, whoa. I believe this is a fun issue for legal types and interpretive bureaucratics. I read this over to a younger daughter and I said, "I think grade 8 students should write acts because they haven't learned the art of elongating the English language yet."
Why, for example, would you write, "A regulation may be general or particular in its application, may be limited as to time or place or both and may exclude any place from the application of the regulation"? What does that mean? I may be very wrong, but this looks like an interpretive nightmare too, and I'm wondering why.
The language of the law and its rules and regulations should be clear, concise and leaving no room for interpretations. The way some of this is written is a fence-sitting coward's way of leaving loopholes. Those in the position of enforcing the law and its rules and regulations should be held responsible for their actions or lack of them.
Jim and I have been the victims of a crime and as victims of a crime have been victimized. In the beginning there were some in positions of power who tried to blame us. Comments like: "Are you sure you didn't feed too much salt in your ration?" "Maybe some manure spilled in your water," or "Why the fuss? It's only pigs." There's been the terrible ordeal of suing the widow neighbour, the fallout from that. There's been the burden of financial hardship. Our interest in this bill is very deep and very emotional. We have lived the fallout from a spill that has seriously affected our lives for the past six years.
Therefore, I hope I have been able to impact the thinking of this committee to make improvements and meaningful additions to this bill. Further, I hope this committee will assure us that we will remain protected if we are unable to collect our significant losses through this long, tortuous, slow, inefficient court process.
In your little packet that I left here, there are two copies of water tests, one taken in 1990 and one in 1992. I draw your attention to the chloride and bromide. These are both substances from very deep. You will find that the 1990 sample right after the well was identified as the problem shows our chloride at 600 times the level that it is in 1992 after the well was properly sealed; and the bromide at 523 times the regular level that was identified in 1992.
I have a letter here from a fellow we export through regularly. We have a herd that's known and we have had the privilege of exporting through him around the world. As a result of our problem, he was unable to attend our herd.
I also have a letter here from our MP, Bob Speller, addressing the fact that Herb Grey, in his riding, identified water problems.
I have a letter here to Mike Hunter from the Ministry of the Environment, consulting him on the fact that they believe the gas well to be the problem.
Last in your packet, a rather poor photocopy, but you will see a little thing on water matters. In the corner you will see, "Who's Going To Monitor Jarvis' Natural Gas Problem?" I'd like to draw your attention to, hopefully, what I have underlined, that it's no longer under the jurisdiction of the MNR. At the top of this article you will see that the Ministry of Environment and Energy is responsible for fresh water, but this is from a gas release, so we can go back to MNR for consultation; in other words, more confusion and more to add to my argument that it should be one ministry.
I hope I get your support in insisting that mandatory insurance go with permitting anyone doing anything like this, because Jim and I are in a dreadful situation and I know that we are not alone. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you, Mrs Field. So far we're lucky, but I think we're going to hear the bells ring any second. The clerk checked and we're told that this clock is three minutes fast, so I think we only have about a minute or so. The questioning this time commences with the NDP, if you have a brief comment, Ms Churley.
Ms Churley: I do. This is something I've pointed out a couple of times to the government members that we needed to take a closer look at. It's very good that you came here today, because you put a human face on it. We often talk in these rooms about the abstract of environmental regulation and deregulation. Having us shown the human face of the tragedies that happen when there is a spill or a problem is very, very important to all of us to see. What I hope is that Dr Galt, the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Environment and Energy, will do three things as a result.
I like your idea of the insurance and that at the very least -- and I'll be putting in an amendment to this effect -- any person who came in under the ECC will be grandparented in and not left hanging there, people like Mary; third, as you wind down the ECC, that you will find another way to have in existence the same kind of program that will be the payor of last resort, because that in fact is what it was -- do I hear the bells going yet? -- and why so little money was put out. I think those are three very good suggestions that could help you.
Mrs Field: Just one short comment: I don't see the ECC program as being the problem. Even in reading the minister's comments, it was the cost. Certainly in our case I see a terrible thing happen if we don't have that resource to fall back on.
Mr Galt: I have to run after the vote. I would like to discuss this with you further. If I can get your phone number, I'll call you tomorrow to explore this further.
One question: Did you get a diagnosis from a veterinary or a veterinary pathologist?
Mrs Field: Many.
Mr Galt: Okay. I didn't see it in the attachments.
Mrs Field: There was no question. The water was so high in salt that it was --
Mr Galt: Actually, you can get salt poisoning in swine without extra salt by simply withdrawing water for 12 hours and putting them back on water. They can come down with salt poisoning.
Mrs Field: But you see, Dr Galt, we have pages and pages of water sampling showing the level of salt in the water. The water was the problem and our veterinarian had the water shut off and would not allow it to be turned on again until it was proper.
Mr Galt: I'll spend 15 or 20 minutes with you tomorrow on the phone. I need to talk to you about it.
Mrs Field: Great. We appreciate that. Thank you, Dr Galt.
Mrs McLeod: I just have a comment that it seemed to me, with the effort you had to go through just to find out that the ECC existed, they might be spending more on payout than on administration if more people knew that they had that resource.
You also mentioned in the letter from Bob Speller, at least the mention was made that there'd been a joint meeting of MNR and MOE dealing with the whole situation of wells. It may not be relevant to the bill, but it would be very interesting to know what that information was.
Mrs Field: I think, Mrs McLeod, that anything to do with water is relevant to this bill. The bill is around the protection of resources. I think it's one of those things that tends to get shuffled down the line, and it's such a high priority. Try going without it for a couple of days and you'll recognize the need.
Mrs McLeod: Would you make that information available? The letter from Bob Speller is there, but the background information from Herb Grey was not and I'd appreciate seeing it.
Mrs Field: Yes. Great. Thank you.
The Chair: Excellent. With that, we actually got the 20 minutes in. Thank you very much, Mrs Field, Mr Field, for taking the time to drive in and make your presentation. We appreciate it very much.
The committee stands adjourned until Monday at 3:30.
The committee adjourned at 1757.