Land and Resources

Waste diversion Ontario

Under the Waste Diversion Act, 2002, Waste Diversion Ontario has a mandate to develop, implement and operate recyclable waste diversion programs. To carry out this mandate, it establishes industry funding organizations and oversees the development and operation of waste diversion programs. These programs divert designated waste (blue box waste) and prescribed materials such as tires, cell phones and batteries, which would otherwise end up in the landfill or the incinerator.

Obligations under the FLSA

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is responsible for the implementation of the Waste Diversion Act, 2002. This act established the not-for-profit corporation Waste Diversion Ontario, which in turn creates industry funding organizations in accordance with the same legislation.

In the view of the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner, these organizations established under provincial law should have responsibilities with regard to the provision of French-language services. Consequently, the Commissioner recommended in 2011 that the Ministry take advantage of the revision of the municipal special waste diversion program to consider the needs of Francophones with regard to the various fees and charges levied when “designated” recyclables such as tires, cell phones and batteries are purchased.

However, these industry funding organizations provide no documentation or service in French. In 2011, therefore, the Commissioner’s Office recommended that Francophones, who are both taxpayers and consumers of recyclable goods and products, receive, in French, the information they need to fully participate in waste reduction, reuse and recycling programs.

Recommendation by the Commissioner

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change agrees that it is important for Francophone citizens to have information in French about waste management programs. The Ministry also informed the Commissioner’s Office that it continues to communicate with the public about these programs in both English and French.

In 2010-2011, however, the Commissioner’s Office found that Waste Diversion Ontario and the industry funding organizations it creates provide no documentation or information in French for Francophone citizens who want to know more about the programs and the fees they are charged for the recycling of certain designated materials. Consequently, the Commissioner urged the Ministry to take the appropriate measures to force the industry funding organizations responsible for waste diversion programs to comply with the requirements of the French Language Services Act.

In his annual report, the Commissioner demanded that the Ministry ensure that Francophones have at their disposal, in French, all required information to fully participate in the province’s waste reduction, reuse and recycling programs in order to meet the government’s environmental objectives. In other words, the Ministry had to see to it that these organizations also apply the French Language Services Act.

In response, the Ministry told the Commissioner’s Office that it would make every effort to encourage the agents of Ontario’s waste diversion programs to honour Francophones’ rights. While this response shows good faith, the Commissioner is not backing down from his position that organizations created under provincial law to carry out provincial programs have an obligation to comply with the French Language Services Act.

Current situation

The Commissioner’s 2010-2011 recommendation about forcing Waste Diversion Ontario and the industry funding organizations to comply with the French Language Services Act was heard, of course. The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change made a commitment to encourage the parties responsible for implementing the waste diversion programs to provide services in French. That’s commendable.

However, the situation does not appear to have improved significantly since then. The Commissioner’s Office still maintains that at the very least, these organizations should be legally deemed to be third parties and that they must fulfil the obligations set out in Ontario Regulation 284/11 regarding the provision of French-language services on behalf of the provincial government.