Acts administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada

Environment and Climate Change Canada administers over a dozen Acts of Parliament, either in whole or in part, and is responsible for meeting numerous obligations spelled out in legislation. Under its various acts, the Department works to address and report on a wide range of complex environmental issues, including:

  • monitoring air and water quality and emissions of greenhouse gases
  • controlling the level of toxic substances in commercial products
  • forecasting meteorological patterns and reporting on weather conditions
  • consulting with Canadians, regulated stakeholders, researchers and governments
  • researching and protecting the habitat of migratory birds and species at risk
  • permitting and, when necessary, preventing international trade in hazardous waste, hazardous recyclable materials and endangered species
  • promoting, inspecting and enforcing regulatory requirements

Environmental protection

  • The Department of the Environment Act

    Enacted in 1971, this Act established Environment and Climate Change Canada as a department within the portfolio of the Minister of the Environment responsible for preserving and enhancing the quality of the natural environment, providing meteorological services, and coordinating policies and programs to achieve environmental objectives.

  • Water Governance and Legislation

    Canada's coastal and inland waters are an area of shared responsibility between federal, provincial and territorial governments and several federal departments. The Canada Water Act and the International Rivers Improvement Act (IRIA) are two significant pieces of water legislation administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada.  

  • Lake of the Woods Control Board Act

    First enacted in 1921, this Act defines the purpose and powers of the Board to regulate water levels in the Ontario, Manitoba and United States water system including Lake of the Woods, Lac Seul, and the Winnipeg and English Rivers. Environment and Climate Change Canada represents Canada on the Board.

  • Weather Modification Information Act

    Weather modification includes any activity intended to change the atmosphere in order to artificially influence weather conditions. This Act allows the federal government to set requirements for reporting such activities.

Pollution prevention

  • Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999)

    This Act is the cornerstone of Canada's environmental legislation and an important part of Canada's broader legislative framework aimed at preventing pollution and protecting the environment and human health. The link includes information about CEPA 1999, including summaries of the Act and links to other pieces of legislation that contribute to environmental protection in Canada. Much more information about the Act and its implementation can be found on the CEPA Environmental Registry.

  • Fisheries Act

    Although the Act is administered by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change is responsible for the sections of the Fisheries Act that deal with water pollution. Along with CEPA 1999, this Act plays a major role in protecting the quality of the natural environment. The link provides more information on Environment and Climate Change Canada regulations under the Fisheries Act.

  • Antarctic Environmental Protection Act (AEPA)

    The purpose of this Act is to protect the Antarctic environment from potential negative environmental effects as a result of Canadian activities in the region. It helps to fulfill Canada's obligations under the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (the Madrid Protocol). The link provides information regarding Environment and Climate Change Canada's role and a link to the AEPA permits application process.

  • Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act

    Under this Act, Environment and Climate Change Canada assists Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AADC) in administering regulations dealing with waste from natural resources.

Biodiversity and conservation

  • Species at Risk Act (SARA)

    This Act is one of the Canadian government's main conservation tools to protect species at risk, maintain healthy ecosystems and preserve Canada's natural heritage. This section provides information on SARA as well as links to annual reports, permits and instruments used to protect species in Canada. Much more information on the Act and its implementation can be found on the Species at Risk Public Registry.

  • Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (MBCA)

    Most species of birds in Canada are protected under this Act, which was first enacted in 1917 to implement the Migratory Birds Convention with the United States. The link provides information on birds protected under the MBCA and provides links to regulatory requirements on potentially harmful human activities that may affect them, such as hunting, culling and the use of migratory birds for scientific research. Further information the MBCA and its implementation is also available.

  • Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA)

    This Act helps to fulfill Canada's commitments under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) by controlling illegal trade in species and safeguarding Canadian ecosystems from the introduction of species considered to be harmful. The link provides information on specific measures to achieve these objectives, as well as links to WAPPRIITA annual reports.

  • Canada Wildlife Act

    This Act allows for the conservation and study of wildlife and the creation of National Wildlife Areas. This section provides general information on the Act and its regulations. Information on National Wildlife Areas and other protected areas is also available.

Sustainable development

  • Federal Sustainable Development Act

    Under this Act, the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change is responsible for developing the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, setting out goals and targets for all federal departments. The first federal strategy was adopted in 2010, and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change must provide progress reports every three years.

  • Canada Foundation for Sustainable Development Technology Act

    This act establishes the Canada Foundation for Sustainable Development Technology to fund the development of technologies that provide solutions to issues related to climate change, clean air, water and soil quality. The Ministers of the Environment and Climate Change, Industry and Natural Resources recommend members to the board of directors. This section provides more information on Environment and Climate Change Canada's role.

Other significant acts

  • Impact Assessment Act

    This Act focuses on major projects and their environmental effects on areas of federal jurisdiction and as a result of federal decisions associated with a project. While for the most part administered by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the National Energy Board, Environment and Climate Change Canada supports implementation of the Act with analysis, advice and, where required, enforcement.

  • Environmental Enforcement Act

    This Act is omnibus legislation that created new enforcement tools, amended the fine regimes and introduced the sentencing provisions to nine existing acts to promote more effective enforcement of the laws that protect Canada's national parks, air, land, water, and wildlife. The EEA created a new act, the Environmental Violations Administrative Monetary Penalties Act (EVAMPA), which authorizes the establishment of a fair and efficient administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) regime. The link provides background on the EEA, including a list of affected acts.

  • Canadian Environment Week Act

    The Act designates the week in which June 5 occurs as Canadian Environment Week. This coincides with the United Nations' designation of June 5 as World Environment Day.

  • National Wildlife Week Act

    This statute designates the week in which April 10 occurs as National Wildlife Week. April 10 was the birthday of Jack Miner, an early Canadian waterfowl conservationist.

  • Environmental Violations Administrative Monetary Penalties Act

    This Act sets out a framework for the development of a fair and efficient administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) regime. AMPs are penalties designed to create a financial disincentive to non-compliance with designated legislative requirements and to provide an alternative to other enforcement measures, which may not be effective or available in all situations.

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