Archived: Risk-based audit and evaluation plan: 2013-14 to 2017-18: chapter 2

2. Planning Context

2.1 Departmental Priorities and Risks

A. Key Priorities

EC is the lead federal department on a wide range of environmental issues, and works to provide Canadians with a clean, safe, and sustainable environment. As a primarily science-based department, EC fulfills its mandate through monitoring, research, policy development, service to Canadians, regulation, enforcement of environmental laws, advancement of clean technologies and strategic partnerships. The Department’s programs are focused on a “clean” environment by minimizing threats to Canadians and their environment from pollution; a “safe” environment by equipping Canadians to make informed decisions on weather, water and climate conditions; and a “sustainable” environment by conserving and restoring Canada’s natural environment.

Over the coming year, EC will continue to pursue a wide range of initiatives to address environmental issues of concern to Canadians. In doing so, EC will face a steady demand for action, working with multiple levels of jurisdiction, domestically, continentally and internationally. Over the next 3 years, EC will pursue the following four major priorities and key activities (source: Report on Plans and Priorities 2013-14):

A Clean Environment: Manage substances and waste, and reduce pollution that directly or indirectly harms human health or the environment.

Plans for meeting the priority:

  • Deliver on the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP)
  • Deliver a sector-by-sector regulatory approach to reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • Deliver on federal components of a national Air Quality Management System
  • Participate in international fora to advance Canada’s environmental goals related to climate change and air quality
  • Promote compliance with and enforce regulations - pollution

A Safe Environment: Provide Canadians with high quality information on immediate and long-term environmental conditions.

Plans for meeting the priority:

  • Deliver high-quality weather and environmental services to Canadians 
  • Deliver high-quality weather and environmental services to targeted users 

A Sustainable Environment: Ensure that land, water and biodiversity are sustained.

Plans for meeting the priority:

  • Improve implementation of the Species at Risk Program
  • Pursue a collaborative approach to protect and conserve biodiversity at home and abroad, including through the development of a National Conservation Plan 
  • Advance work through the Joint Canada-Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring 
  • Implement a comprehensive approach to protecting water and to ecosystem management
  • Promote compliance with and enforce regulations-wildlife 

Management Priority: Ensuring that activities and resources are aligned to support delivery of programs, services and results to Canadians.

Plans for meeting the priority:

  • Develop and implement strategic approaches to human resources management that respond to conditions of the current period of fiscal restraint
  • Improve communication - internally and externally - of departmental priorities, programs and policies
  • Focus financial management functions on mandatory/core services and provide them through the most effective and efficient means possible, including modernizing departmental financial management systems
  • Continue to implement the Departmental Security Plan (including the Business Continuity Plan) 
  • Re-engineer information management and technology operations to support the Shared Services Canada model and ongoing Departmental requirements 
  • Support management oversight

B. Corporate Risks

EC continues to face a number of risks in delivering effectively its programs and priorities. These risks are and continue to be monitored and updated as required, with adjustments made to Departmental resources or program objectives to support necessary mitigation measures. The Department has identified three priority risk areas that it will monitor and address in 2013-14.  The three key risks presented below are drawn from EC’s 2011-13 Corporate Risk Profile (updated February 2013) and reflected in the Report on Plans and Priorities 2013-14.


With the environment remaining important to many Canadians, there are high expectations for Environment Canada’s ongoing engagement with its domestic and international partners and stakeholders to help conserve and protect the environment, at the same time as the Department continues to contribute to the government’s plan to return to fiscal balance. Environment Canada will continue to foster key partner and stakeholder relationships with other jurisdictions, Aboriginal peoples and groups, and industry, among others, to build on and share expertise. The Department will continue to access and implement innovative and cost-effective ways, including through technology, to engage international partners and expand stakeholder opportunities to participate in consultations. This work will be undertaken in parallel with improvements to how the Department manages grants and contributions as tools for engagement.

Business Continuity

Environment Canada provides critical weather and other environmental information to Canadians and to a host of stakeholders and partners-both domestically and internationally 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To counter the risk that this key service could be interrupted, the Department will maintain its evergreen Business Continuity Plan, negotiate service-level agreements with stakeholders and partners, and continue to develop professional staff to maintain these essential services. The Department will also maintain the capacity to respond to hazards and other environmental emergencies, such as extreme weather and climate events. Safeguarding key systems and data is essential to maintaining Environment Canada’s ability to provide the critical services that support the health and safety of Canadians in a timely, coordinated and effective manner. The Department will develop enhanced business arrangements with Shared Services Canada to support the provision of critical weather services.


The Department’s core services are based on a sound foundation of science, technology and regulatory work. The recruitment, development and retention of employees with the essential and specific skills and knowledge required to support programs and internal services could continue to pose challenges, particularly in the current fiscal environment. Environment Canada will proactively provide a healthy and flexible work environment and otherwise support its workforce so that essential skills, knowledge and experience are maintained and developed through cost-effective means, including by leveraging workforce development opportunities through partnerships. The Department will also engage in ongoing strategic operational planning to address and maintain key competencies and expertise in the fields of meteorology, science and technology, and to maintain operational effectiveness of the services offered both now and into the future in all areas of the Department.

The process to develop EC's Corporate Risk Profile (CRP) was aligned with EC's key program areas, and identified a number of high level and cross-cutting risks under each area. The Department's risks and related mitigation measures are described in more depth through EC's CRP exercise.

2.2 Branch Strategic Priorities

The Audit and Evaluation Branch's (AEB) mandate and mission are essential to support the Department in fulfilling its objectives in the context of its many priorities, challenges and complexities. In this context, the AEB will focus its resources and efforts on a number of key priorities for 2013-14:

1. AEB will continue to deliver all its core services, including:

a) Conduct all required mandatory evaluations as well as maintain a Direct Program Spending evaluation coverage of at least 90% over its 5 year plan;

b) Conduct an average of 6 internal audits or related projects per year (e.g. reviews)

c) Coordinate external audits, Branch external liaison activities (with central agencies and other departments), and the environmental petitions process;

d) Support the External Audit Advisory Committee (EAAC) and the Departmental Evaluation Committee (DEC), including the renewal of DEC membership.

2. AEB will provide timely and flexible support to the DMs and senior management, in the context of EC's evolving priorities and challenges. For instance, AEB will continue to support (through its assurance and other services) EC's ongoing implementation of its Deficit Reduction Action Plan, coordination of IT services with Shared Services Canada, and the implementation of other government-wide priorities.

3. AEB will continue to ensure the value of its services and reports, through improved project and quality management processes and practices. A number of initiatives, either underway or planned, support this priority: 

  • Conduct an external practice inspection of the internal audit function, and a neutral assessment of the evaluation function (e.g. TB policy requirements);
  • Further improve AEB’s project management and scheduling practices;
  • Implement a more structured approach to AEB knowledge management;
  • Continue quarterly monitoring of outstanding management actions in support of past audit and evaluation recommendations. Examine how the process can be improved to better support the resolution of prior recommendations.

4. AEB will promote staff engagement, professional development and training. In consultation with staff, AEB will update its HR and engagement plan to better reflect current context and challenges.

5. AEB will continue to raise awareness in the Department of the role of audit and evaluation and to strengthen liaison with branches.



To be strategic partners in the achievement of departmental outcomes
through excellence in audit and evaluation services.


To enable the department to efficiently and effectively achieve its strategic objectives
and enhance its accountability to Canadians.


To support the continuous improvement of programs, policies and initiatives at EC
and to contribute to the achievement of departmental objectives
by providing timely and objective information, assurance and advice to the Deputy Minister,
the Associate Deputy Minister, the EAAC, the DEC and departmental management.

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