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QUEEN’S PARK — The government is proposing changes that would gut the Endangered Species Act, taking an axe to protections for Ontario’s 243 species at risk.

“The Liberals put the Endangered Species Act on life support. Today the government proposed changes that pull the plug on protecting endangered species,” said Green Party leader, Mike Schreiner.

The most shocking change would allow companies to pay into a fund rather than complying with environmental laws in the Endangered Species Act.

“This is a Pay-to-Slay fund that green-lights the destruction of species and their habitat. The Act is worthless if deep-pocketed companies can just pay to ignore it,” said Schreiner.

The Minister also announced discretionary powers that would allow him to interfere with science-based recommendations and delay species recovery. The most stunning example is that animals could be delisted from the Species-At-Risk list if they are doing well outside Ontario.

“The health of species elsewhere should not give Ontario permission to exterminate them locally. I am disturbed this government would consider dropping habitat protections because other places are protecting biodiversity,” said Schreiner.

In a press conference, Schreiner pushed back against the government for removing protections under the excuse of cutting red tape and opening Ontario for business.

“Endangered pollinators like the monarch butterfly are critical to Ontario’s $40 billion food and farming sector. Protected areas like the Greenbelt provide $3 billion in environmental benefits, including flood protection, water filtration and carbon storage,” said Schreiner.

“This government cannot call itself fiscally responsible if it is going to pave over the environmental services that nature provides for free,” he said.

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