Media Advisory - Ombudsman releases Report into the Department of Environment’s Management of the Provincial Water Classification Program
August 15, 2014
In February of 2013, the office of the Ombudsman was contacted by citizens and representatives of the Nashwaak Watershed Association. They had concerns about the Department of Environment’s management of the provincial Water Classification Program, in particular, they were troubled by the fact that no watercourse had been classified under the Water Classification Regulation 2002-13, The regulation was enacted well over a dedicate ago and although numerous organization’s had applied for classification none were ever granted.
“Our Office has concluded that it is in the public interest to provide a detailed report in order to establish the grounds for our conclusions and recommendations.” Charles Murray.
The three primary recommendations are as follows:
- If the Department has determined that Regulation 2002-13 is unenforceable then it should be repealed without delay.
- Those individuals and groups who have submitted a request for classification should be advised of the reasons why their application is being rejected
- The Department website and other communication forms should reflect the fact that they will not be classifying watercourses.
With respect to other Departments, we would make the following recommendations based on our investigation into Regulation 2002-13:
- Where Departments are unclear as to statutory authority, they should seek detailed clarification from the Office of the Attorney General before setting a date for the Regulation coming into force.
- Regulations should not be brought into force until the Department responsible for their enforcement has confidence that the provisions are sufficiently clear, workable, and enforceable.
- Introduction of new regulatory schemes should be accompanied by clear and measurable outcomes to evaluate their effectiveness.
- Ministerial discretion should not be applied over an extended period of time in a blanket manner to nullify Regulation. The better practice is to delay coming into force or, if that is too late, to repeal the Regulation. This leads to more open communication with the public, decreases risks of misleading or encouraging adverse reliance, and incentivizes swifter resolution.
Copies of the report are available online at the following link: EnglishWaterClassificationReport.pdf