May 3, 2004

Ontario proposes accord with Quebec on transboundary environmental impacts

The Ontario Ministry of Environment has proposed an agreement between the Ontario and Quebec governments aimed at encouraging mutual understanding and co-operation on transboundary environmental issues.

The proposed agreement would address air quality and atmospheric pollutants; surface and groundwater management; monitoring and reduction of pollution in rivers, lakes and waterways; conservation, protection and restoration of the natural environment; the Great Lakes-St Lawrence watershed; and other issues as deemed appropriate.

Under its provisions, the two governments would share relevant information and expertise concerning these issues. They would jointly implement measures to prevent transboundary environmental impacts, whenever necessary as determined by the two parties, and would set up consultation and co-ordination mechanisms to promote dialogue.

Another provision would encourage participation by the two parties in each other's environmental assessment processes relating to any project or activity with the potential to cause significant adverse transboundary impacts. Ontario and Quebec would further agree to advise, consult and, where appropriate, assist each other before undertaking projects or activities with potential adverse transboundary environmental impacts, or in the event of natural or accidental incidents which could cause such impacts.

The agreement calls for the designation of liaison representatives for its implementation, and for the establishment of a joint task force by June 30, 2004. This task force would meet at least once a year to share information, develop plans and programs for implementation of the agreement; it would report to the provincial Environment Ministers annually.

The respective governments would be responsible for their internal administrative costs relating to the agreement, and would share equally any costs incurred for outside contracted work.

The proposed five-year agreement is intended to terminate and replace a previous Agreement on Environmental Co-operation signed by Ontario and Quebec in June 1988.

The proposal has been posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights registry for a 30-day comment period ending May 22, 2004 (www.ene.gov.on.ca, registry reference No PA04E0006)

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