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Statement on the Ontario government’s proposal to gut the Endangered Species Act

Algonquin wolf © Rosemary Harris


TORONTO, April 18, 2019 – The Ontario government’s shocking and irresponsible proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act will effectively remove all safety nets for species at risk in this province. The proposal will give industry a free pass to exterminate species in Ontario.

This move is regressive and dangerous. The world is in a biodiversity crisis, and the Ontario government has proposed to gut one of the most comprehensive endangered species laws in the world. The province is bending to pressure from industry and sprawl developers when they should be working to restore and protect vulnerable habitats.

These changes propose to gut the cornerstones of the law that made species recovery and survival possible. Environmental Defence, Ontario Nature and the David Suzuki Foundation condemn these changes in the strongest possible terms, and call for the Government to reconsider immediately.

We are especially concerned about the proposed changes following:

  • Species listed as threatened or endangered may no longer be automatically protected
  • Changes to “edge of range” species means considering populations outside of Ontario when listing a species at risk. This includes many Southern Ontarian species, allowing Ontario to simply opt out of protecting species at home.
  • Introducing pay-to-proceed system on harmful activities. Developers and proponents should not be allowed to pay their way out of protecting endangered species’ habitats.
  • Opening the scientific committee to non-scientist members. This change could allow people with no knowledge or scientific background to be involved in decisions for species.
  • Giving the Minister the discretion to interfere with the listing of at risk species, bringing politics into the protection of endangered species.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

About ONTARIO NATURE (www.ontarionature.org): Ontario Nature protects wild species and wild spaces across the province through conservation, education and public engagement.

About DAVID SUZUKI FOUNDATION (www.davidsuzuki.org): The David Suzuki Foundation is a leading Canadian environmental non-profit organization, collaborating with all people in Canada, including government and business, to conserve the environment and find solutions that will create a sustainable Canada through evidence-based research, public engagement and policy work. The Foundation operates in English and French, with offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Rachel Kitchin, Environmental Defence, rkitchin@environmentaldefence.ca, 416 805 0026

John Hassell, Ontario Nature, johnh@ontarionature.org, 416 786 2171

Stefanie Carmichael, David Suzuki Foundation, scarmichael@davidsuzuki.org, 437 997 2568, @stefccarmichael