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Ontarians are living through three pandemic challenges. First, we have a virus that appears to be a result of too much disruption of the natural world. Covid-19, like Ebola before it, may foretell future similar species cross-overs with huge impacts on public health, economies, and unprepared systems.

Secondly, we are reaping and trying to address human inequality, largely based in skin colour, with urgent demands for significant change across numerous sectors, from policing to education, employment, social equity, and health care, to name but a few challenges. While efforts on colour alone will require huge socio-economic re-sets, we are amazed that somehow gender remains under the radar. So we need to address that too.

Here in Ontario, however, we also have a third pandemic-like challenge: a government that sees environmental protection as red tape; still has a DRAFT environmental plan more than 2 years since its election; has used omnibus bills in an anti-democratic bent to attain harmful reductions to our long-standing, multi-barrier approaches to land use planning, water management, and other key issues; and that remains virtually silent on a post-pandemic recovery that many other jurisdictions and leading economists state must better link the environment, the economy, and democracy.

More recently, that government has suspended the environmental bill of rights and its public consultations and is trending to issue ministerial zoning orders for types of permits it said it would not issue under the suspension of the environmental bill of rights.

Given the urgencies outlined above, the OHI is making minor amendments to the delivery schedule and outcomes for WaterScape III, and will seek to have a paper for community endorsement before labour day.

The broad strokes are that Ontario needs to better protect biodiversity, embrace integrated watershed management, and develop a sustainability lens for land use planning.

We look forward to supporting partner organizations in their efforts for a Green and Just Recovery for Ontario, and hope you’ll find ours worthy of your support.

We look forward to talking with you downstream,