Remember when we noted the number of species of animals that went extinct in 2018 or were in danger of going extinct this year?
It seems that the Ford government is looking at the issue of endangered species as well…but perhaps for different reasons.
The government announced that they will be conducting a review of the Endangered Species Act, in order to “improve the effectiveness of our environmental protections to ensure a balanced approach between a healthy environment and a healthy economy,” as stated by the government in this press release.
In order to go about this review, the government has posted an online discussion paper for a period of 45 days starting from January 18 to March 4 to solicit feedback from the public.
The Endangered Species Act first came into effect in June of 2008, and there are currently some 243 species on the province’s Species at Risk in Ontario list.
The desired outcomes of the review, according to the government, are:
Enable positive outcomes for species at risk
Ensure species assessments are based on up-to-date science
Address multiple objectives for ecosystem management through stewardship and protection activities
Increase efficiencies in service delivery for authorization clients
Streamline processes and provide clarity for those who need to implement the Act
Maintain an effective government oversight role
Greenpeace Canada issued a statement lambasting the Ford government for opening the door to allowing ‘hundreds of endangered species’ to die out:
“The Ford government recently gutted climate change legislation. They fired the watchdog responsible for holding them to account on the environment. Now they are turning their attention to Ontario’s Endangered Species Act. The public must respond quickly and decisively. If we don’t act now, hundreds of endangered animals, plants and other species in this province could die out in the coming years. We must ensure that Ford doesn’t do to endangered species what he has done to climate.”
In one sense, you could understand this review and the concepts behind it. The legislation has been in effect for over 10 years so why not review it to see what you can do to make it better. Regarding the review of the endangered species act, there may be species on that list that perhaps were not as ‘endangered’ as previously believed.
The reference to a healthy environment and a healthy economy is also an interesting reference to make, and may refer to this review of the endangered species list. For example, if a developer wanted to build somewhere but was being prevented before because a certain type of salamander was inhabiting the area, should the review remove that species from the list, then that developer could probably have an easier time getting his plans approved.
But looking at it from another way, how risky is it to put economic interests, no matter how beneficial it could be, at the expense of endangered or at risk wildlife?
That’s a question that needs to be answered as this review is being conducted.