The “Extinction Schedule”
The Government of Ontario drastically overhauled Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) through changes in Schedule 5 of Bill 108, an omnibus bill that passed on June 6, 2019.
The amendments give new powers to the Minister to delay, limit and remove protections for at-risk species. Further, it creates numerous, overlapping pathways for developers and industrialists to dodge critical requirements. Those with a vested, short-term economic interest in sprawl development now have free rein to bulldoze, dig up and pave over the habitats of our most vulnerable plants and animals.
The ESA gutting does not reflect the values or long-term interests of the people of Ontario. The haste with which the government proceeded ensured that Ontarians would have no say in the outcome and eliminate future opportunities for public input under the Environmental Registry of Ontario.
SOS: Save Ontario Species
In the face of opposition to the proposed law, the provincial government chose to ram the Bill through the Legislature, curtailing debate and ignoring the serious concerns of:
- 86 scientists
- 8,000-plus letters from you, our members and supporters
- 50,000-plus letters and phone calls opposing Schedule 5 of the bill including from our partners
- 28 authors, musicians, Indigenous Peoples, businesses and environmental organizations
- Fierce resistance from municipalities
- Calls from three opposition parties and a developer to delay or kill the bill
- Dire warnings from United Nations’ state of biodiversity report about the rapid decline of ecosystems, which is threatening a million species with extinction
Our joint submission to the Environmental Registry of Ontario about the proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act was endorsed by 96 organizations.
Why it Matters
We are now in the throes of the largest mass extinction since the disappearance of the dinosaurs more than 65 million years ago. Globally, almost one in eight birds, one in four mammals, and one in three amphibians are in jeopardy. Habitat loss and degradation, climate change, invasive species, pollution and over-exploitation of natural resources are driving the decline.
In Ontario, there are over 230 plant and animal species that are at-risk of extinction or of disappearing from the province, a number which is growing every year. Their loss or decline affects the functioning and resilience of food webs and landscapes – jeopardizing the well-being of all living things, including humans.
Ontario’s decision to end hunting of snapping turtles in 2017 was a welcome move. Ontario lists the snapping turtle as a species of “special concern,” which means that although it is not yet endangered or threatened, a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats could endanger or threaten it. The government ended the legal hunting of snapping turtles because scientists and citizens demanded action.
After a 30-year absence, endangered piping plovers returned to nest at Sauble Beach in 2007. In March of 2018 the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry charged the Town of South Bruce Peninsula (the Town) under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act for bulldozing the plovers’ habitat in 2017 and issued a Stop Work Order that the Town attempted to appeal. Ecojustice intervened on behalf of Ontario Nature and Environmental Defence to counter the Town’s appeal. In October of 2019, the Town of South Bruce Peninsula was convicted of two counts of damaging endangered piping plover habitat. This was a big win for the piping plovers and endangered species in Ontario! A big thank you to Ecojustice for standing up for these vulnerable birds and to Ontario Nature members for supporting this important advocacy work.
We will continue to use every means available to fight for at-risk plants and animals in Ontario.