Amy Watson —
Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner is calling on the government to reverse cuts to the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) in order to protect natural heritage and responsibly manage natural assets.
“Liberal cuts to the MNR threaten the places we love,” says Schreiner. “Greens will fight to protect food and water while pushing the government to manage valuable resources responsibly.”
The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario in his annual report today documents how budget cuts have transformed the MNR. According to the ECO, the Liberal government is gutting the MNR’s ability to protect our environment and responsibly manage natural resources. The MNR receives less funding today than it did in 1992. Schreiner is calling for cost recovery for MNR services starting with an increase in the aggregate extraction levy to provide funding for the MNR.
“The Liberal’s failure to manage our natural capital responsibly is appalling and short-sighted,” according to Schreiner. “It makes no sense for the government to walk away from protecting natural assets worth $84 billion. It’s disappointing that the opposition parties have let the government get away with this. Our children deserve better.”
An MNR study estimates the value of ecosystem services in southern Ontario alone at $84 billion. Numerous stakeholders called for an increase in the aggregate extraction levy to provide the MNR with more capacity during hearings on the Aggregate Resources Act last year.
Ontario currently charges 11.5 cents per tonne for aggregates. Quebec charges 50 cents per tonne. The United Kingdom charges £2.00 per tonne.
“Even the aggregate industry has asked for an increase in the levy. But the Liberals have failed to act,” says Schreiner. “Instead they’ve gutted the Endangered Species Act and cut funding for the MNR even more.”
“The Liberals have put private interests before the public good in the Ring of Fire and in the management of crown land,” says Schreiner. “All three parties at Queen’s Park should be ashamed for failing to protect the places we love. We must demand better. The status quo must change.”