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Environmental rights and responsibilities

Region: Ontario Answer # 367

Everyone in Ontario has environmental rights and responsibilities. Some people also have a legal responsibility to know about environmental law because of the activities or business they are involved in.

Rights for everyone in Ontario

Everyone in the province of Ontario has the right to play an active role in protecting the environment. Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights enables citizens to provide input into the development of provincial legislation. It also gives citizens the right to request an investigation into an environmental offence, and to sue someone who they believe has broken the law and harmed the environment. For example, if you see your neighbour improperly dumping a harmful substance, you have the right to ask the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks to investigate. Depending on the situation, you may also have a right to sue this person for the environmental damage they cause.

As well, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 encourages and supports all citizens to provide input into the development of federal legislation. View 380 What are your environmental rights? for more information.


People who are involved in specific industries

People who are involved in specific industries have a duty to protect the environment and to obey all environmental laws. People who are involved in activities that have a direct impact on the environment have a duty to know about and follow all environmental laws. This includes people who handle or transport chemicals or waste, and people in construction, manufacturing and biotechnology. People who are involved in activities such as selling real estate or lending money with land as collateral also need to be aware of environmental issues and laws so they can advise their clients and avoid liability themselves.

Additional information

If you need additional information about the Environmental Bill of Rights or your environmental responsibilities in Ontario, visit the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. For additional information about environmental law in Canada, visit Environment and Climate Change Canada.

For legal advice, contact an environmental law lawyer.

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