The move to socially-distanced and remote work environments, temporary facility shutdowns, and the general upheaval that arrived with the pandemic mean that many companies in Ontario have barriers to meeting environmental reporting obligations. In recognition of this difficulty, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks ("MECP") has recently announced a change in reporting deadlines for greenhouse gas emissions.
Harmonization with Federal Reporting
In February 2020, the MECP finalized changes that harmonized Ontario's greenhouse gas emissions reporting requirements with the federal reporting obligations. These changes were aimed at eliminating duplication and reducing unnecessary cost and regulatory burden for regulated facilities.
In response to COVID-19, on May 2, Environment and Climate Change Canada extended its reporting deadline for greenhouse gas emissions from June 1 to July 31, 2020. In light of this, the MECP began reviewing its regulatory requirements for greenhouse gas reporting for 2019 for opportunities to align with the federal government and provide regulatory relief needed due to the pandemic.
Ontario Greenhouse Gas Reporting Dates Changed
On May 14, the MECP extended the provincial greenhouse gas reporting deadlines to align with the federal government's recent deadline extension. This change allows those with reporting obligations to maintain reporting harmonization with federal deadlines, while providing some relief to the regulated community.
These changes include amendments to Ontario Regulation 390/18: Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Quantification, Reporting and Verification. Under the amendments, the Director is extending the following deadlines:
- Submission of principal greenhouse gas emissions report for 2019 (save for information required by paragraph 6 of Schedule 5 of the Regulation):
- Deadline extended from June 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020.
- Submission of production parameters, material usage and process data (being the information required by paragraph 6 of Schedule 5):
- Deadline extended from June 1, 2020 to October 1, 2020.
- Submission of the verification statement and verification report (which requires site visits):
- Deadline extended from September 1, 2020 to October 1, 2020.
As a result, regulated facilities now have an additional month to three months to meet the above reporting requirements. Details on these changes will be posted to Ontario's greenhouse gas reporting webpage once the Director's decision is finalized.
Ongoing Environmental Reporting Considerations
Despite this relief, governments across the country have been clear that environmental protections continue to be a priority in government decision-making. Those with regulated facilities should continue to monitor and, where necessary, communicate directly with environmental ministries for updates on environmental reporting obligations. This applies not only to greenhouse gas reporting, but also to other common reporting requirements such as hazardous materials reporting, pollutant release reporting, and reporting obligations under Environmental Compliance Approvals.
Gowling WLG and the Environmental Law group continue to follow changes to legal requirements and proceedings as a result of COVID-19. Please reach out to a member of our team for further information.