The Ontario government''s "get tough" approach with polluters in the year 2000 is a sign of things to come, warned Ontario Environment Minister Dan Newman.
Pollution fines in the first 11 months of 2000 increased 74 percent over 1999 fines.
"During the past year we have seen an increase in charges and fines and the introduction of the toughest environmental penalties in all of Canada," said Newman. "Let the year 2000 serve as a warning to all polluters that there is more to come in 2001."
The amount of fines issued for environmental offenses as of Dec. 5 was C$2,628,790, while the total amount of fines in 1999 was C$1,508,710.
The number of charges laid by the ministry also increased in 2000. There were 1,520 charges filed compared with a total of 1,216 in all of 1999.
"This trend of increasing fines and charges reflects the ministry''s commitment to maintaining and enforcing Ontario''s environmental laws," said Newman. "I fully expect this trend will continue this year as a result of our tougher penalties and our new SWAT team."
Introduced in September, Ontario''s SWAT team is a mobile compliance, inspection and enforcement unit focused on companies and individuals that systematically defy environmental laws.
In addition to SWAT, Ontario also introduced the toughest fines and longest jail terms in Canada for major environmental offenses.
The Toughest Environmental Penalties Act of 2000 took effect in November. The Act increased the maximum fine for a corporation''s first conviction of a major environmental violation from C$1 million to $6 million per day.
Fines for an individual''s first conviction of a major violation increased from C$100,000 to $4 million per day.
by Virginia Sutcliffe