Ontario government publishes ministers’ mandate letters

When a new provincial Cabinet is appointed the Premier provides each minister with a document that is now referred to as a “mandate letter”. Essentially it is a list of expectations that the premier has for the new minister. Previously these mandate letters were kept confidential but Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has broken with tradition and published these letters.

It is interesting to note the multitude of tasks the Premier has given to Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Glen Murray. In summary:

  • Building on, and supporting, the most current climate change science, leading the development of a new long term climate change strategy for Ontario, including an action plan to help the government achieve its greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2020. The strategy is to be completed in 2015.
  • Greenhouse gas impact analyses for significant policies, legislation and regulations and adaptation considerations for public infrastructure investments.
  • Working with other provinces and territories on the development of a Canadian Energy Strategy that includes co-ordinated efforts to reduce GHG emissions.
  • Developing new alternative fuel rules in 2014 to help big, energy-intensive industries reduce their GHG emissions.
  • Re-introducing a strengthened Great Lakes Protection Act.
  • Negotiating the renewal of, and implementing, the Canada-Ontario Agreement respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem. This will include developing a nutrient target by 2016 to address algal blooms in the Great Lakes and bringing forward recommendations to meet that target.
  • Working with Great Lakes states to ensure the sustainability of the Great Lakes. This will include fully implementing the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement by regulating intra-basin transfers.
  • Developing and implementing improved approaches to waste diversion. Building on the release of the Waste Reduction Strategy and working with industry, municipalities and other stakeholders toward the objective of re-introducing waste reduction legislation. The goal is to ensure the ongoing sustainability and appropriate governance of waste diversion programs. This is critical to protecting the environment, recovering economic value in the waste stream and reaping GHG reduction benefits by using resources more efficiently.
  • Improving drinking water on First Nations’ reserves, with a focus on remote communities: the number of First Nation reserves without access to safe drinking water is unacceptable. We will develop measurable, achievable targets to monitor progress.
  • Supporting the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in efforts to strengthen pollinator health.
  • Working with business, industry and partner ministers to provide Ontarians with better information about chemicals linked with cancer.
  • Working with industry to ensure that products on Ontario store shelves such as children’s products are as safe as those in the US and the European Union.
  • Continuing to work on decisions relating to environmental assessments associated with projects in the Ring of Fire region. You will do so by working with the ministers of Northern Development and Mines, Aboriginal Affairs, and Natural Resources and Forestry. This will include ensuring that the regional and cumulative impacts of proposed development are considered. [Note that this item comes under the heading “Supporting the Development of the Ring of Fire” rather than “Completing full and complete environmental assessments of the Ring of Fire”. Note that in the Ontario context the Ring of Fire is an area of far Northern Ontario which is projected to be rich in valuable minerals, including chromium, copper, zinc, nickel, platinum, vanadium and gold.]
  • Reviewing the legislative framework to ensure there is a comprehensive approach to holding polluters responsible for decisions that affect the environment. Your ministry will put greater emphasis on prevention and on the “polluter pays” principle, focusing initially on contaminated sites.

It will be interesting to see how much attention environmental issues not included in this mandate letter, such as air pollution, receive from this government.

The complete mandate letter for the Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change is available at https://www.ontario.ca/government/2014-mandate-letter-environment-and-climate-change.

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