of the Environment's Modernization of Approvals process is
starting to make a real difference: kudos to Marcia Wallace, Doris
Dumais and the others involved. It still takes far too long to get
many kinds of Environmental Compliance Approvals (often well over a
year), but the backlog is decreasing, and some upcoming changes
should really help. This is essential: the inordinate delays in
obtaining approvals force many organizations to incur significant
economic damage or break the law, every year. The more
law-abiding organizations are, the more stressful they find these
long approvals delays, and the more they detract from potential
investment in Ontario.
About 2400 registrations have already occurred on the
Environmental Activities and Sector Registry, the instant,
permit-by-rule system for low risk, routine activities. (The
registry has the additional benefit of creating a level playing
field, by assuring consistent conditions for similar activities.)
Not coincidentally, the number of annual applications for
environmental compliance approvals has dropped by more than 2,000.
The shift should continue as additional activities and sectors are
added to the registry.
Now the Modernization process is shifting to the full scale
Environmental Compliance Approvals. The MOE is already doing more
to clarify what information is required in a good application for
an Environmental Compliance Approval- a
guide and technical checklist are available on line. By
next spring, the entire application is expected to be filed online.
This should automatically reject incomplete applications, and
provide real-time tracking of all accepted applications; both
should drive down wait times. On line applications should also
improve public access to approvals and their supporting documents.
Once the system works, of course; so far, IT challenges have
created a barrage of headaches, including a brief "$10
Tuesday", when all EASR registrations could be had
for the bargain price of $10. That particular bug was fixed
We hear that the Modernization of Approvals process is starting
to trigger transformation across the ministry, and that other
ministries are also looking to piggyback on the system. Morale
among the review engineers is reportedly improving too, now
that they are released from reviewing so many boring, routine
applications, and from the tedious job of tracking down missing
components from poor quality applications. Instead, they are
spending more of their time using their technical skills on more
challenging applications where a knowledgeable reviewer can make a
I sometimes joke that I'd be out of business if the MOE were
always fair and efficient, and we've never been busier. But the
Modernization process is looking like a big step in the right
direction. And that's good news for anyone who cares about the
environment that the MOE tries to protect. Including me.
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