Archived: Integrated Risk-Based Audit and Evaluation Plan 2015-2016: chapter 3

2. Planning Context

2.1 Departmental Priorities and Risks

A. Key Priorities

Environment Canada is the lead federal department for a wide range of environmental issues affecting Canadians, and plays a stewardship role in achieving and maintaining a clean, safe and sustainable environment. EC addresses issues through monitoring, research, policy development, service delivery to Canadians, regulations, enforcement of environmental laws, advancement of clean technologies and strategic partnerships. The Department’s programs focus 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. EC maintains four priorities for 2015-16. These priorities reflect the Department’s stewardship mandate that, in turn, directly supports the Government of Canada’s outcome of a clean and healthy environment. The Department will pursue a number of plans to deliver these priorities, as set out in the following tables (Source:2015-16 Report on Plans and Priorities):

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);
  • Continue to implement regulatory programs, including Disposal at Sea;
  • Deliver on the Government’s sector-by-sector regulatory approach to reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions;
  • Deliver on federal components of the national Air Quality Management System;
  • Advance Canada’s climate change and clean air goals through participation and implementation in international fora and partnerships; and
  • Administer, promote compliance with and enforce pollution acts and regulations.

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

Plans for meeting the priority:

  • Deliver timely high-quality weather and environmental services to Canadians through an improved ability to detect severe weather and the renewal of the monitoring infrastructure;
  • Leverage the foundational weather and environmental services as well as collaborative partnerships to deliver services to targeted users that support their decision making around their business operations;
  • Provide weather and climate information in support of domestic and international emergency management efforts that support public safety, such as: weather and ice information; and volcanic ash, nuclear and smoke modeling, amongst others;
  • Modernize the weather infrastructure to ensure the continuity of weather and climate information that is critical to the safety of Canadians; and,
  • Continue to leverage international partnerships to benefit from scientific and technological advancements globally.

A Sustainable Environment: Work to sustain land, water and biodiversity.

Plans for meeting the priority:

  • Improve and advance implementation of the Migratory Birds Program and the Species at Risk Program;
  • Pursue a collaborative approach to protect and conserve biodiversity at home and abroad, by supporting the implementation of the National Conservation Plan and the administration of habitat stewardship programs, and the maintenance and expansion of a network of protected areas;
  • Contribute to responsible resource development through the provision of science-based expert advice during environmental assessments;
  • Continue collaborative work with the Government of Alberta on the implementation of an oil sands monitoring program;
  • Implement a comprehensive approach to ecosystem management;
  • Continue to focus federal engineering and science expertise to support the protection of domestic and transboundary waters and ecosystem management;
  • Continue collaborative work with the provinces and territories on water quantity monitoring through the National Hydrometric Program; and,
  • Administer, promote compliance with and enforce wildlife acts and regulations.

Management Priority: Transform the Department’s internal services operations to enhance service delivery.

Plans for meeting the priority:

  • Continue to re-engineer departmental systems and operations to increase efficiency;
  • Continue to improve business processes and common services to maintain or improve levels of service and client satisfaction; and
  • Implement the Departmental People Management Strategy and initiatives to create an adaptive and mobile workforce and a modern workplace.

B. Corporate Risks

EC continues to face a number of risks in delivering effectively its programs and priorities, and these continue to be monitored and updated as required. The Department conducted an annual risk update in 2014, and confirmed that the five corporate risks identified previously are still relevant for 2015-16. These are presented below as drawn from EC’s 2014-17 Corporate Risk Profile (CRP) and reflected in the Departmental 2015-16 Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP).

Delivering Environment Canada Services:
There is a risk that the Department’s provision of key services and other information for Canadians, partners and others may be impeded as a consequence of the Department’s reliance on the performance of essential infrastructure and systems.

Working with Partners/Stakeholders:
There is a risk that differing priorities or capacity limitations of partners and stakeholders may impact on EC’s strategic outcomes, or the advancement of key environmental initiatives.

Workforce Readiness:
There is a risk that it may become increasingly difficult for the Department to attract, develop, retain and motivate a high-performing and innovative workforce as the federal public service evolves, and as competition increases for specialized/science expertise.

Managing Information:
With the drive towards whole-of-government information management including greater efficiencies and protection of government information, there is a risk that the Department may be challenged to protect and preserve information, given the potential of cyber threats information.

There is a risk that the Department may not generate timely regulations or legislation as required by its mandate.

2.2 Branch Strategic Priorities

The Audit and Evaluation Branch's (AEB) vision, mandate and mission presented below are essentially to support the Department in fulfilling its objectives effectively and efficiently, in the context of its many priorities, challenges and complexities.


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 Ministers, the EAAC, the DEC and departmental management.

It is in this context that AEB will focus its efforts on 5 key priorities for the coming year:

  1. As reflected in this document, AEB's overarching priority is to continue to deliver all its core services and planned audit and evaluation projects, including:
    • Deliver quality evaluation services and projects, including mandatory evaluations (e.g. per FAA), as well as maintain a direct program spending (DPS) evaluation coverage of at least 95% over its 5 year plan;
    • Deliver quality internal audit services and projects as per this RBAEP;
    • Comply with the requirements of TB Audit and Evaluation policies and directives, and maintain required professional standards and practices;
    • Regularly monitor the status of outstanding management actions and recommendations pertaining to previous audit and evaluation reports;
    • Provide effective support to the External Audit Advisory Committee (EAAC) and the Departmental Evaluation Committee (DEC), including support for the timely renewal of Committee memberships.
  2. Maintain effective collaboration and liaison with external auditors and key stakeholders:
    • Ensure effective and professional liaison with the offices of external assurance providers (e.g. the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and the Auditor General), and assist in coordinating their activities within EC;
    • Actively support central agencies’ initiatives in audit and evaluation (e.g. Office of the Comptroller General and TBS Centre of Excellence for Evaluation), as well as those of our other partners, such as the science-based departments;
    • Pursue further opportunities for inter-departmental audit and evaluation collaboration where appropriate, such as with other science-based departments and agencies;
    • Assist EC’s Corporate Secretariat in ensuring Environmental Petitions are effectively coordinated and actioned on a timely basis.
  3. Ensure the value of AEB services and reports, through continuous improvement of quality management and professional practices. Key priorities for 2015-16 include:
    • Complete the implementation of AEB’s action plan in support of the combined 2013-14 External Practice Inspection (audit) and Neutral Assessment (evaluation);
    • Continue to update AEB's quality assurance program and professional practices with the view of improving some of its key components (e.g. report format, project control and quality assessment tools); and,
    • Expand AEB's quality assurance and professional practices and capabilities.
  4. Provide timely and flexible support to the DMs and senior management as may be required during the year, in the context of EC's evolving priorities and challenges. Particularly, AEB will continue to support the implementation of government-wide and EC priorities and initiatives, through its assurance and evaluation services.
  5. AEB will position its Branch administration to effectively support and implement the various initiatives stemming from EC's transformation agenda, as well as support EC’s common people management and financial management commitments.

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