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Increased Liability for Environmental Offences under the Ontario Environment Quality Act

Ontario has made major amendments to the Environment Quality Act (the EQA) which came into force on November 4, 2011 which significantly increase potential fines for offences. The maximum fine that may be imposed on a legal person is increased to $6 million ($1 million for a natural person). The minimum and maximum fines double for a second offence and triple for a subsequent offence. The maximum term of imprisonment is increased to 3 years (5 years less a day for a subsequent offence).

Notably, fines that may be imposed on directors and officers under the amended EQA are double those that would apply in the case of a natural person for the same offense.  Directors and officers of a legal person (i.e. corporation or partnership) that commits an offence are presumed to have committed the offence themselves unless they can establish that they exercised due diligence and took precautions to prevent the offense.

An administrative monetary penalty (AMP) regime will be coming into effect starting in February 2012.  Amounts that may be imposed under an AMP will vary depending on the specific provisions violated, from $1,000 to $10,000 for a legal person and $250 to $2000 for a natural person.


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Lawson Lundell's Project Law Blog focuses on updating proponents on issues emerging in the law and policy that applies to the development of major projects in Canada. The focus of the blog is on matters relating to environmental assessment and compliance, regulatory matters and Indigenous consultation.




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