Statement from Minister Yurek Following the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment Meeting

ontario legislature

HALIFAX – Ontario Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, Jeff Yurek, released the following statement today after the meeting of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment:

“Today, I participated in a meeting of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment alongside my provincial and territorial counterparts from across Canada. These discussions offered an opportunity to share perspectives on important cross-cutting issues such as plastic waste, climate change, air quality, and wastewater.

The province of Ontario remains committed to environmental protection across the country and we look forward to cooperating with our federal, provincial, and territorial colleagues to deliver real results for Canadians, including reducing plastic waste, improving air quality, managing wastewater and fighting climate change while encouraging economic growth and job creation.

Ontario has been showing leadership for many years in the diversion of waste, including plastic waste from landfills, and we are pleased to see that the CCME’s Action Plan on Zero Plastic Waste demonstrates there is clear support across Canada for Extended Producer Responsibility. We see this as a leading approach for businesses to manage their plastic waste and packaging and an area where ongoing collaboration can be a positive for all jurisdictions.

However, we are deeply disappointed that Minister McKenna continues to focus on her tax plan, disguised as a climate change measure, and refuses to respect the legitimate ways provinces and territories, including Ontario, are tackling climate change in their own unique jurisdictions. In our view, the federal government’s numerous unilateral actions, particularly around carbon taxes and the Impact Assessment Act (previously Bill C-69), are unacceptable and have become a troubling pattern.

We don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all approach to fighting climate change across the country. This is why we released a Made-in Ontario Environment Plan to protect and preserve our air, land, and water and fight climate change without imposing a costly carbon tax on the hardworking people of our province, which the federal government has done to all Canadians. That is why Ontario brought its own reference challenging the constitutionality of the federal carbon tax, has intervened today in Saskatchewan’s appeal of its reference to the Supreme Court of Canada and will be seeking to intervene in Alberta and Manitoba’s challenges.

And the same thing is happening with respect to the Impact Assessment Act. This legislation has been met with significant criticism from across Canada. In our view, and in the view of many others, it will be disastrous for this country. As my colleague Greg Rickford has stated, this act will negatively impact resource development and the energy sector in Ontario and across Canada, killing jobs that hardworking families depend on to make ends meet. The federal government has heard clearly from provincial governments, stakeholders and industry that the Impact Assessment Act creates a less-efficient and unworkable framework around project approval and regulatory review. It acts to stifle competitiveness in a critical Canadian sector and fails in its claim of balanced environmental protection. The people of Ontario, and all of Canada, deserve better.

What we expect and want from Ottawa is effective partnership with provinces and territories, not unilateralism that impedes jurisdictions’ rights and abilities to address these and other important environmental issues in a way that reflects their economies and regional differences.

The federal government promised a new era in relationships with the provinces. Unfortunately, all we’ve seen is a centralized approach to federalism that fails to respect our differences. While I commend the spirit of collaboration that was frequently on display in Halifax, what I also saw was more of the same from a federal government that won’t have it any other way but its own.”