Ontario’s Ministry of Education has a revised Statement of Environmental Values under the Environmental Bill of Rights.
Statements of Environmental Values (SEV). SEVs are a requirement for all prescribed ministries under the Environmental Bill of Rights. The Ministry of Education was prescribed through an amendment to Ontario Regulation 73/94 under the Environmental Bill of Rights, made on August 1, 2012. In theory, an SEV sets out policies and commitments to the environment that must be considered in future decisions. In practice, they tend to be vague and full of platitudes, but may still have a little bit of useful impact.
The biggest change in the new SEV is that the Ministry is asking other educational institutions, such as school boards, to consider following its lead.
The revised SEV states:
Ministry of Education
Statement of Environmental Values(SEV)
The Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights(EBR) was proclaimed in February 1994. The founding principles of the
EBR are stated in its Preamble:
• The people of Ontario recognize the inherent value of the natural environment.
• The people of Ontario have a right to a healthful environment.
• The people of Ontario have as a common goal the protection, conservation and restoration of the natural environment for the benefit of present and future generations.
While the government has the primary responsibility for achieving this goal, Ontarians should have the means to ensure that it is achieved in an effective, timely, open and fair manner.
The purposes of the Act are:
• To protect, conserve and where reasonable, restore the integrity of the environment, by the means provided in the Act;
• To provide sustainability of the environment by the means provided in the Act; and
• To protect the right to a healthful environment by the means provided in the Act.
These purposes include the following:
• The prevention, reduction and elimination of the use, generation and release of pollutants that are an unreasonable threat to the integrity of the environment.
• The protection and conservation of biological, ecological and genetic diversity.
• The protection and conservation of natural resources, including plant life, animal life and ecological systems.
• The encouragement of the wise management of our natural resources, including plant life, animal life and ecological systems.
• The identification, protection and conservation of ecologically sensitive areas or processes.
To assist in fulfilling these purposes, the Act provides:
• The means by which Ontarians may participate in the making of environmentally significant decisions by the Government of Ontario;
• Increased accountability of the Government of Ontario for its environmental decision?making;
• Increased access to the courts by residents of Ontario for the protection of the environment; and
• Enhanced protection for employees who take action in respect of environmental harm.
The EBR requires a Statement of Environmental Values(SEV) from all designated ministries. The designated ministries are listed at:
http://www. ebr. gov. on. ca/ERS-WEBExternal/content/index2. jsp?f0=aboutTheRegistry. statement&f1=aboutTheRegistry. statement. value&menuIndex=0_3
SEVs are a means for designated government ministries to record their commitment to the environment and be accountable for ensuring consideration of the environment in their decisions. A SEV explains:
• how the purposes of the EBR will be applied when decisions that might significantly affect the environment are made in the ministry; and
• how consideration of the purposes of the EBR will be integrated with other considerations, including social, economic and scientific considerations, that are part of decision?making in the ministry.
It is each Minister’s responsibility to take every reasonable step to ensure that the SEV is considered whenever decisions that might significantly affect the environment are made in the ministry.
The ministry will examine the SEV on a periodic basis to ensure the Statements are current.
2. MINISTRY VISION, MANDATE AND BUSINESS
The Ministry of Education strives to promote a strong, vibrant, publicly funded education system that is focused on three goals: high levels of student achievement, reduced gaps in student achievement and high levels of public confidence.
The ministry also supports children and families in the early years, with a focus on quality early years and child care programs and services.
Ontario students will receive the best publicly funded education in the world, measured by high levels of achievement and engagement for all students. Successful learning outcomes will give all students the skills, knowledge and opportunities to attain their potential, to pursue lifelong learning, and to contribute to a prosperous, cohesive society.
The ministry seeks to strengthen Ontario’s publicly funded education system through stronger partnerships, and by creating amore integrated early learning and child care system for children and their families.
The wisdom of educators, parents, students and all those working in education, early learning and child care will continue to be sought and valued. The government’s goal is to create a publicly funded education system that can reach every student and help them succeed.
Key Priorities and Results
The ministry’s work is focused on three goals:
• High levels of student achievement
• Reduced gaps in student achievement
• High levels of public confidence.
Student achievement from kindergarten to Grade 12 is a top priority in education. The overall skill and knowledge level of Ontario’s students must continue to rise to remain competitive in a global economy. At the same time, the achievement gap must be closed between students who excel and students who struggle because of personal, cultural or academic barriers.
In addition, the ministry’s goal is to support Ontario’s children and families through a system of responsive, high?quality, accessible, and increasingly integrated early years programs and services. Quality early years and child care programs provide children and their families with support and learning in the early years and contribute to healthy child development.
More details on the responsibilities of the Ministry of Education can be found on the ministry website http://www.edu.gov.on.ca.
3. APPLICATIONOF THE SEV
The Ministry of Education is committed to applying the purposes of the EBR when decisions that might significantly affect the environment are made in the ministry, and as it develops Acts and policies.
The Ministry of Education is committed to helping realize the following vision for Ontario:
“Ontario’s education system will prepare students with the knowledge, skills, perspectives, and practices they need to be environmentally responsible citizens. ” Acting Today, Shaping Tomorrow, p. 6
(http://www. edu. gov. on. ca/eng/teachers/enviroed/action. html)
The ministry recognizes that this SEV applies only to the Ministry of Education itself, and nothing in the SEV affects in any way the legal or fiscal responsibility of school boards, Consolidated Municipal Service Managers/District Social Services Administrative Boards(CMSM/DSSABs), First Nations, child care operators and Ministry of Education transfer payment agencies. Nevertheless, the ministry will encourage the school boards, CMSM/DSSABs, First Nations, child care operators and Ministry of Education transfer payment agencies to practice environmentally responsible behaviour similar to that set out in this SEV.
4. INTEGRATION WITH OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
The Ministry will take into account social, economic and other considerations; these will be integrated with the purposes of the EBR when decisions that might significantly affect the environment are made.
5. MONITORING USE OF THE SEV
The Ministry of Education will ensure that the SEV is taken into consideration when making decisions on a proposed policy or Act that may significantly affect the environment and that these decisions are posted on the Environmental Registry, where appropriate.
The ministry will provide communication, advice and training to ministry staff in the implementation and application of the purposes of the Environmental Bill of Rights.
The Ministry of Education believes that public consultation is vital to sound environmental decision?making. The Ministry will provide opportunities for an open and consultative process when making decisions that might significantly affect the environment.
7. CONSIDERATIONOFABORIGINAL PEOPLE
The Ministry of Education recognizes the value that Aboriginal people place on the environment. When making decisions that might significantly affect the environment, the Ministry will provide opportunities for involvement of Aboriginal people whose interests may be affected by such decisions so that Aboriginal interests can be appropriately considered. This commitment is not intended to alter or detract from any constitutional obligation the province may have to consult with Aboriginal people.
8. GREENINGOF INTERNALOPERATIONS ANDENERGY CONSERVATION
The Ministry of Education believes in the wise use and conservation of natural resources. The Ministry will support Government of Ontario initiatives to conserve energy and water in its own operations, and to wisely use our air and land resources in order to generate environmental, health and economic benefits for present and future generations.
The Ministry will continue to encourage energy conservation and resource conservation in its own operations by, for example, ensuring that office lights are turned off when possible and office equipment is turned off when not in use and explicitly considering environmental performance of the various options when equipment leases or purchase decisions are made. The Ministry will also continue to educate and encourage staff on the 3Rs – reduction, reuse and recycling – to divert materials from disposal.