Departmental Plan 2019 to 2020 report, Environment and Climate Change Canada, chapter 1

Minister’s message


The Honourable Catherine McKenna, P.C., M.P.

Minister of Environment and Climate Change

As the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, I am pleased to present the 2019–20 Departmental Plan. This plan outlines strategic actions on a wide range of environmental priorities, recognizes the interdependence between environmental sustainability and economic well-being, builds on partnerships, and facilitates a coordinated approach to achieve results.

Climate change continues to be the most pressing challenge we face. From the increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events, to the thawing of permafrost, Canadians are paying for the cost of climate change. This is why we have a climate plan, the Pan-Canadian Framework for Clean Growth and Climate Change, and why we are putting a price on carbon pollution. This is why we have published regulations to reduce methane emissions, avert future release of hydrofluorocarbons, and to phase-out the use of coal-fired electricity by 2030. We have also made historic investments to support climate action, such as the $2 billion Low Carbon Economy Fund. The Canadian Centre for Climate Service will help Canadians increase their resiliency to a changing climate, and provide information on local effects of climate change so that they can plan accordingly.

The transition to a low-carbon and resilient economy cannot happen overnight. In 2019-20, we will continue the implementation of our climate plan, in collaboration with provinces, territories and Indigenous peoples. We will also continue to leverage investments and regulatory measures to generate clean growth, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help meet or exceed Canada’s Paris Agreement commitments. We will work with the international community on implementing the ‘’Paris rulebook“ for ensuring transparent and credible climate action and accountability and will deliver on Canada’s pledge of providing $2.65 billion by 2020-21 to help developing countries transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient economies through investments in clean technology, climate-smart agriculture and other initiatives. Canada’s Air Quality Management System demonstrates the strength of cooperation with provinces and territories to improve air quality, and we will continue to reduce emissions to protect Canadians from harmful pollutants through new and stronger standards for emissions and for ambient air quality.

Reducing marine litter, including plastics, requires a global response and ECCC, in collaboration with other departments, will work to implement commitments and actions under the Charlevoix Blueprint for Healthy Oceans, Seas and Resilient Coastal Communities and the Ocean Plastics Charter. This includes moving to 100% reusable, recyclable or, where viable alternatives do not exist, recoverable plastics by 2030, and working with industry to increase the recycled content of plastic products by at least 50%. Canada announced it will invest $100 million to prevent plastic waste from entering the oceans, address plastic waste on shorelines, and better manage existing plastic resources in developing countries. Canada is also taking direct actions at home including through the Canadian Plastic Innovation Challenge, which will provide funding of up to $12.85 million to Canadian innovators and businesses to develop innovation technologies to reduce plastic waste.

We will continue to work with Canadian and U.S. partners to protect and improve Canada’s freshwater resources, including the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River and Lake Winnipeg watersheds, through its science-based research and monitoring, and by investing in actions that reduce nutrient pollution.

Working with partners, we have made good progress toward conserving 17% of Canada’s lands and inland waters and 10% of coastal and marine areas by the end of 2020. With historical federal funding for conservation, we will continue to expand and manage our Migratory Bird Sanctuaries and National Wildlife Areas. The $500 million Canada Nature Fund will support Indigenous organizations, non-profits, provinces and territories and others to protect and conserve Canada’s terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, landscapes and biodiversity, including species at risk. This Fund will be matched by philanthropic foundations, corporate, not-for-profit, provincial, territorial and other partners to raise a total of $1 billion for conservation action and lead to the establishment of more provincial, territorial, Indigenous, and municipal protected and conserved areas, as well as private lands across the country. 

Federal, Provincial and Territorial governments have agreed to transform the way we conserve species at risk by shifting to more ecosystem-based, multispecies approaches, focussing on a national set of shared priority places, species and sectors along with place-based conservation initiatives to deliver on the ground action. Collaborative work will continue to advance the protection and recovery of Canada’s Boreal and Southern Mountain Caribou herds, amongst other priority species at risk.

ECCC will continue to bring leading-edge technology and science together to provide timely and accurate forecasts on which Canadians, businesses, communities and others rely to make health and safety decisions. The Department will upgrade its vital infrastructure, including 12 radars in 2019-20. This will enable improved forecasts overall, as well as for extreme weather events such as storms, floods and droughts. Canadians will continue to have access to the WeatherCAN application which was launched on February 14, 2019, and use ECCC’s forecasts to plan ahead.

Science-based decision-making in essential to our work. It supports our contributions to the Oceans Protection Plan, our advice on biodiversity and sustainability. It will guide our decisions under the new Impact Assessment Act, and our regulatory activities, to name but a few. In recognition of this, we have recently adopted a Policy on Scientific Integrity, and are in the process of appointing a Departmental Science Advisor.

We have an ambitious program ahead of us. I invite you to read this Plan for details on the priorities of ECCC, and our commitment to deliver on them as we work towards a cleaner and more prosperous future.

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