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Wild Animal Law of Canada

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Environment-Related Acts (Manitoba)

(current to 01 September 2016)

Note Re Application of The Environment Act and the The Water Protection Act:

These Acts together cover the jurisdictional ground that most provinces address in an all-in 'EPA' (Environmental Protection Act).

This law bears on the wildlife issues of:
  • HABITAT
  • IMPORT/EXPORT
  • TRANSPORTATION
  • HABITAT
  • EXTERMINATION
  • CIVIL LIABILITY
The full current text of these Statutes and their Regulations may be viewed at the Manitoba statute website.

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Table of Contents
1. The Environment Act
(a) General
(b) 'Developments'
(c) Public Registry
(d) Protections and Prohibitions
(e) Civil Liability
(f) Enforcement
2. Water Protection Act
(a) General
(b) Protective Provisions
(c) Invasive Species Management
(d) Civil Liability
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1. The Environment Act

(a) General

While the definition of 'environment' includes "plant and animal life, including humans" and "air, land, and water" (ie. habitat) [EA 1(2)], the primary purpose behind the Environment Act ('EA') relates to human use rather than to any intrinsic entitlement of the natural world to protection from human use and depredation [EA 1(1)]. This is made plain in the s.1 statement of the Act's purpose: to "ensure that the environment is protected and maintained in such a manner as to sustain a high quality of life, including social and economic development, recreation and leisure for this and future generations" [EA 1(1)].

The main regulatory mechanisms of the EA are set out in the balance of this module below. Details of specific categories of environmental (and thus 'habitat') protection are contained in the Environment Act Regulations. Anyone wishing to advocate for wild animals must review these to see if they have any application to their specific situation (eg. pesticide use, wastewater disposal, etc).

(b) 'Developments'

For it's purposes, the EA establishes three categories of 'development', which are defined collectively (in part) as "any project, industry, operation or activity, or any alteration or expansion of any project, industry, operation or activity which causes or is likely to cause" [EA 1(2)]:
  • the release of any pollutant into the environment, or

  • an effect on any unique, rare, or endangered feature of the environment, or

  • a significant effect on the environment or will likely lead to a further development which is likely to have a significant effect on the environment, or

  • a significant effect on the social, economic, environmental health and cultural conditions that influence the lives of people or a community in so far as they are caused by environmental effects.
For these purposes, 'pollution' includes "any solid, liquid, gas, smoke, waste, odour, heat, sound, vibration, radiation, or a combination of any of them that is foreign to or in excess of the natural constituents of the environment" that "affects the natural, physical, chemical, or biological quality of the environment", or "is or is likely to be injurious to the health or safety of persons, or injurious or damaging to property or to plant or animal life" [EA 1(2)].

The three classes of development (1,2 and 3) are distinguished by their escalating level of environmental effects, as they relate to pollution (class 1), additional non-pollution effects (class 2) and multiple environmental issues (class 3). Examples of what sort of developments fall into each category are set out in the Classes of Development Regulation [EA 1(2)].

Varying levels of regulation apply to each class of development, including licensing, proposal submissions and assessments, agreements with government and public hearings [EA 10-11.1].

(c) Public Registry

A public registry of development proposals received by the Ministry, and related documentation, is linked here:Manitoba Environment Registry [EA 17].

(d) Protections and Prohibitions

EA provisions to protect the environment include:
  • that "(n)o person shall release or allow the release of a pollutant in an amount or concentration, or at a level or rate of release, that causes or may cause a significant adverse effect", without "licence, permit, order, instruction, directive or other approval or authorization" to that effect [EA 30.1];

  • that "(n)o person shall release or allow the release of a pollutant in an amount or concentration, or at a level or rate of release, that exceeds the limit(s)" established under the EA or a license or other authorization issued thereunder [EA 30.2]; and

  • a prohibition against the sale and use of certain pesticides, with exceptions [see the Non-Essential Pesticide Use Regulation] [EA 40.4-40.8]
Note: Details of regulation over licensing and application of pesticides, at least from an agricultural point of view, are set out in the Pesticides and Fertilizers Control Act and it's Regulation.
(e) Civil Liability

Persons "acting under the authority of this Act, any employee or person acting as an agent for the Crown, including members of the board, commission, any advisory committee or panel appointed by the minister or Lieutenant Governor in Council or any person operating under an agreement with the minister" are immune from civil liability for any act or omission done in connection with the carrying out of the powers and duties given under this Act, unless the act or omission resulted from their negligence or malice [EA 46].

(f) Enforcement

The EA has the following range of enforcement provisions:
  • appointment of 'environment officers' (EOs) with entry (with and without warrants), inspection, seizure of evidence [EA 20-22];

  • Environmental Protection Orders to address pollution having an adverse effect on the environment [EA 24];

  • direct Ministry action to protect the environment in emergencies [EA 24.1,25];

  • a broad offence provisions to allow for prosecution of violations [EA 31].

2. Water Protection Act

(a) General

While the Environment Act (s.1 above) is Manitoba's generic environmental protection law, the province has also passed into law the more specific Water Protection Act, with more specific focus on water quality (for human consumption), wastewater treatment, management of invasive species and similar goals. For our present purposes of wild animal law, the WPA is relevant primarily as fish habitat, though of course all animals consume water from natural sources in one form or another.

The stated purposes of the WPA (in relevant part) are to provide for the protection and stewardship of Manitoba's water resources and aquatic ecosystems in light of the importance of [WPA 2]:
  • clean drinking water to the province's social and economic well-being;

  • watershed planning;

  • science-based management goals;

  • the threat of acquatic invasive species;

  • protection of riparian area and wetlands.
For these purposes [WPA 1(1)]:
  • 'water' means "means all surface water and groundwater, whether in solid or liquid form;

  • 'aquatic ecosystem' means 'the components of the earth related to, living in or located in or on water or the beds or shores of a water body, including but not limited to all organic and inorganic matter, and all living organisms and their habitat, and their interacting natural systems';

  • 'riparian area' means "an area of land on the banks or in the vicinity of a water body, which due to the presence of water supports, or in the absence of human intervention would naturally support, an ecosystem that is distinctly different from that of adjacent upland areas".
In terms of enforcement, the WPA sets out a basic regime more limited than that set out for the EA as described in s.1 [WPA 30-32.3, 33].

(b) Protective Provisions

Some examples of specific water-protective provisions of the WPA include:
  • a prohibition on the manufacture, sale and use of high-phosporus detergents for household use [WPA 8.1, Phosphorus Protection Regulation ('PP Regs') 2];

  • provisions allowing the Minister to declare 'serious water shortages' and to impose conservation measures accordingly [WPA 11];

  • the establishment of watershed and watershed management authorities and plans, the latter of which must specifically address protection of acquatic ecosystems [WPA 14,15,16(1)].
(c) Invasive Species Management

An extensive list of 'invasive species' (both plants and fish) are set out in Schedule A of the Aquatic Invasive Species Regulation (scroll to the end). Species on this list are non-native, and have been so-declared because they "live in or near a water body" and are likely to have "a negative effect on aquatic ecosystems in Manitoba" [WPA 29.1].

It is prohibited to possess, import, release into the wild or transport an invasive species in Manitoba - unless holding a permit to that effect [WPA 29.4].

Additionally, the WPA authorize a variety of control protocols respecting invasives, including: detection, quarantine, postering to prohibit public access and 'decontamination' [WPA 29.5-29.10]. WPA officials are authorized to exterminate invasive species [WPA 29.12].

(d) Civil Liability

"(T)he minister, an officer, inspector or any other person acting under the authority of this Act" are immune from civil liability for 'anything done or not done, or for any neglect ... in the performance or intended performance of a duty under this Act, or in the exercise or intended exercise of a power under this Act' unless the person was acting in bad faith" [WPA 36].
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