Federal, provincial, and territorial engagement mechanisms
Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment
The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) is the primary intergovernmental forum in Canada for Ministerial discussion and joint action on environmental issues of national and international concern. Membership on the Council of Ministers is comprised of the federal, provincial, and territorial Ministers responsible for the Environment. The current form of CCME was established in 1989 as a formal mechanism to promote effective intergovernmental cooperation and a coordinated approach on environmental issues such as air, water, and soil.
CCME has identified consensus decision-making as one of its fundamental operating principles. It is a process that attempts to recognize and account for the differing, legitimate interests of its 14 member governments. Consensus building takes time and effort but CCME has had some important accomplishments, including the development of the Canada-wide Strategy for the Management of Municipal Wastewater Effluent (2009), agreement to implement the Air Quality Management System (2012), and the Canada-wide Strategy for Zero Plastic Waste (2018).
Senior officials establish working groups of experts from the federal, provincial, and territorial environmental ministries to accomplish specific goals, with the support of a permanent secretariat. In most cases, group membership may include experts from other relevant government departments (such as Health).
Depending on the nature of the work, expertise from the private sector, academia, Indigenous groups and environmental and health public interest groups may be sought. Its current working groups are:
Air Management Committee (AMC)
AMC manages intergovernmental approaches to air quality issues in Canada. AMC's work includes recommending priorities for cooperative action on existing and emerging air quality issues and overseeing the implementation of the collective aspects of the Air Quality Management System (AQMS).
Climate Change Committee (CCC)
The CCC was established in June 2015 to facilitate ongoing federal/provincial/territorial engagement on climate change and work on priority issues identified by Ministers in order to effectively address climate change. The CCC facilitates ongoing FPT engagement on climate change and work on priority issues identified by Ministers in order to effectively address climate change.
Contaminated Sites Working Group (CSWG)
The CSWG provides technical expertise on CCME soil quality and contaminated site initiatives.
Cumulative Effects Working Group (CEWG)
The CEWG is responsible for developing guidance and tools for jurisdictions to assist them in assessing, monitoring and managing cumulative effects.
Environmental Emergencies Working Group (EEWG)
The EEWG was established primarily to enhance the collective and individual ability of jurisdictions to respond to environmental emergencies and to facilitate a common understanding of roles and responsibilities as the foundation for cooperation; undertake initiatives to embed environmental considerations in response actions and in the systems used to manage emergency response.
Waste Reduction and Recovery Committee
The Waste Reduction and Recovery Committee is aims to assist Canadian jurisdictions in their action to reduce waste, increase resources recovery and foster transition towards a circular economy where waste is seen as a valuable resource.
Water Management Committee (WMC)
The WMC manages intergovernmental approaches to water issues in Canada. WMC's work includes recommending priorities for cooperative action on existing and emerging water issues and coordinating the delivery of activities under CCME’s strategic vision for water.
The organization of Committees and Working Groups within the CCME
Council of Ministers
Hon. Dustin Duncan (Saskatchewan)
Deputy Ministers Committee
Lin Gallagher (Saskatchewan)
Kelli Simmonds (Deputy Minister, New Brunswick)
- Air Management Committee
- Contaminated Sites Working Group
- Climate Change Committee
- Cumulative Effects Working Group
- Water Management Committee
- Environmental Emergencies Working Group
- Waste Reduction and Recovery Committee
CCME is supported by the independent, not-for-profit, CCME Secretariat located in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In 2017-2018, funding for the CCME Secretariat was comprised of $375,000 (down from $500,000 in 2011-2012) from the federal government and a total of $1,000,000 from provinces and territories allocated roughly on a per capita basis. The federal contribution is delivered through a five-year agreement that is set to expire in 2021.
CCME Ministers usually meet once a year to discuss national environmental priorities and provide direction regarding work to be carried out. The last Ministerial meeting was held on June 27, 2019, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, while the upcoming Ministerial meeting will be held in Saskatchewan in June or July 2020. The agenda is anticipated to include, among other issues, discussions on zero plastic waste and circular economy, climate change, environmental emergencies, cumulative effects, air quality, and Indigenous engagement.
National leaders and representatives from the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), and Métis National Council (MNC) met with FPT Ministers in advance of CCME COM in November 2017. Ministers agreed that further work is required to define appropriate ways of working with AFN, MNC, and ITK to advance shared environmental priorities.
The role of CCME chair rotates between the 14 participating jurisdictions on a pre-determined, annual basis. The current CCME chair is Saskatchewan and next year it will be New Brunswick. Canada was last in the Chair position in 2018.
Conservation, wildlife and biodiversity
Ministerial and DM-level discussions on Conservation, Wildlife and Biodiversity (CWB) are currently held on an ad-hoc basis. There are well-established mechanisms at the ADM and working level to advance collaborative work. Specific FPT fora and their objectives are outlined below.
FPT Ministers Responsible for Conservation, Wildlife and Biodiversity
Convened by the Minister of ECCC, FPT Ministers Responsible for CWB engage in national strategic discussions on cross-cutting issues in order to make decisions and provide direction on conservation, wildlife and biodiversity. There is no set schedule of meetings. In June 2018, they met jointly with Ministers responsible for parks and protected areas for a second consecutive year to strengthen their commitment to working collaboratively on conservation issues. National Indigenous Representatives were invited to participate in a portion of these meetings.
FPT Deputy Ministers Responsible for Conservation, Wildlife and Biodiversity
FPT Deputy Ministers Responsible for CWB meet as needed and convened by the Deputy Minister of ECCC, via teleconference or in person, to provide advice to their FPT Ministers and to provide direction to working groups. They most recently met in person in June 2019.
Conservation, Wildlife and Biodiversity Steering Group (CWBSG)
The CWBSG is an Assistant Deputy Ministers level committee that meets regularly by teleconference to engage in strategic, high-level discussion on cross-cutting issues of national concern. They provide advice to, and implement direction from FPT Ministers and Deputy Ministers responsible for conservation, wildlife and biodiversity. The committee is co-chaired by ECCC and a province/territory on a rotating, annual basis. The current co-Chair is New Brunswick, and in November 2019, Yukon will take on the role.
Canadian Wildlife Directors Committee (CWDC)
The CWDC is a long-standing committee that provides leadership in the development and coordination of policies, strategies, programs, and activities to address wildlife issues of national concern. Its membership includes ECCC, DFO, PCA, all provinces and territories. The committee is co-chaired by ECCC and a province/territory on a rotating, annual basis.
Other multilateral FPT engagement
Conservation Enforcement Chiefs of Canada (CECC)
The CECC is a Director General and Director level committee that was established in 1991 to promote leadership and the sharing of strategies with regards to the enforcement of conservation and environmental laws. This group, representing provincial, territoritorial and federal departments, is involved in conservation law enforcement and also has a sub-group that coordinates specialized training for enforcement officers that is not available through other providers.
National Administrators Table
Canadian hydrometric operations (e.g., monitoring of water resources) are essential to helping support water management decisions that protect the health and safety of Canadians and ecosystems. ECCC has a long established, collaborative, cost-shared partnership with the provinces and territories to ensure consistent hydrometric monitoring across Canada. Under bilateral Ministerial agreements, the Meteorological Service of Canada’s National Hydrological Service serves as the principal operator of the water availability and flow monitoring network, operating approximately 2200 of the 2800 water-monitoring stations on rivers and lakes across Canada. The monitoring network is managed under the National Administrators Table, which coordinates federal and provincial/territorial partners, ensuring effective sharing of information and approaches. Quebec operates under a different, but complementary arrangement whereby the province is responsible for the operation of the monitoring network, sharing the data with the federal government.
Domestic water boards have been established to focus on specific water issues that have implications for more than one province or territory. ECCC participates on four such boards, including the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board (ORRPB), Prairie Provinces Water Board (PPWB), Mackenzie River Basin Board (MRBB), and the Lake of the Woods Control Board (LWCB). ECCC’s provides information and expert advice, and also provides secretariat functions to these boards. Some of these boards are also housed within ECCC, including the ORRPB. ECCC also engages the boards as new environmental and policy pressures impact activities of the boards.
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