Ontario Re-Introducing Invasive Species Legislation

November 5, 2014 9:00 A.M.

Ontario will re-introduce Bill 167, the proposed Invasive Species Act, 2014 into the Ontario legislature today. (see our post dated February 26, 2014: Ontario Proposes New Legislation to Take Action Against Invasive Species)

The Act is designed to protect the province’s natural environment from invasive species and the significant social, environmental and economic costs they pose.

The Act, if passed, would:

  • Give Ontario the tools to ban activities such as possessing and transporting certain invasive species
  • Allow the government to intervene earlier and enable rapid response actions, including working with partners to stop an invasive species from spreading — for example by preventing the movement of contaminated firewood
  • Help promote compliance through inspection and enforcement measures
  • Position Ontario as the first and only jurisdiction in Canada to enact standalone invasive species legislation

The Act

The Invasive Species Act, 2014 sets out a legislative framework that provides for the identification of invasive species that threaten Ontario’s natural environment, including mechanisms for detecting the appearance of invasive species and bringing them within the legislative framework as quickly as possible after they first appear.

The Act also contains a comprehensive array of inspection powers, minister powers and other provisions that are intended to prevent invasive species from entering Ontario, to control the spread of invasive species in Ontario and to remove and eradicate the invasive species from Ontario.

Identification of Invasive Species and Carriers

The Act applies to invasive species that are identified by regulation or by order of the Minister designating the invasive species.  The Act also applies to carriers of invasive species that are identified by regulation.  An invasive species may be classified as either a significant threat or a moderate threat invasive species.

Prohibited Activities

For significant threat invasive species the following are prohibited:

  • Bringing into Ontario
  • Depositing or releasing
  • Possession (other than in prescribed areas)
  • Transporting, propagating, buying, selling, leasing or trading

For moderate threat invasive species, the following are prohibited:

  • Bringing into provincial parks or conservation reserves
  • Depositing or releasing anywhere in Ontario
  • Possession in provincial parks and conservation reserves.

The Act provides for certain exceptions to the prohibitions.

Authorizations and Agreements

The Minister may authorize for certain purposes activities that would otherwise be prohibited.  The Minister may also enter into agreements for the control and management of invasive species in Ontario.  Such agreements may authorize a person to engage in an activity that would otherwise be prohibited.

Special Preventive Measures

The Minister may cause prevention and response plan to be prepared to help deal with significant threat invasive species in certain circumstances.

Areas may be designated by regulation as significant threat invasive species control areas. The regulation would specify control measures to prevent the invasive species from spreading, including prohibiting or regulating movement in the area or certain activities that may contribute to the spread of the invasive species.

Inspections

The Act gives inspectors the power to conduct inspections to determine compliance with the Act, the regulations, conditions in authorizations or agreements and orders made under the Act.

Inspection orders

Inspectors are given the power to make orders in order to assist in the detection of invasive species, the control and eradication of invasive species and compliance with the Act.

Actions by Minister

The Act authorizes the Minister to take actions to control, remove or eradicate a significant threat invasive species even though the actions may result in damage to or the destruction of property. Compensation may be payable for certain losses or costs incurred as a result of such actions.

A person whose non-compliance with specified provisions of the Act results in the Ministry taking such actions or paying such compensation, is liable to repay the costs of taking those actions or paying the compensation to the Crown.

Offences and Penalties

A contravention of specified provisions of the Act, the regulations, conditions in an authorization or an agreement or an order made by an inspector or the Minister will be an offence for which a court may impose penalties and make other orders.

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