The Government of Canada finalizes regulations to improve air quality and protect human health 

News release

Waving male elementary student wearing plaid mask and blue backpack, outside.
New national regulations to reduce air pollution from the petroleum and petrochemical sectors will improve air quality for nearby communities and workers.

November 10, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario

The Government of Canada’s number one priority remains keeping Canadians safe and supporting families and businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic. Protecting our health also means taking steps to keep our air clean.

Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, announced that the Government of Canada has finalized national regulations that will reduce pollution from petroleum and petrochemical facilities across the country, including in Sarnia, Mississauga, Montréal, Burnaby, Prince George, Saint John, and many communities in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Harmful airborne substances—known as volatile organic compounds—emitted from these facilities contribute to premature deaths and more frequent and severe asthma symptoms, and they force workers and nearby residents to interrupt their daily activities.

The Government of Canada worked closely with industry to provide many compliance options to minimize costs. As a result, industries can find the most effective ways to reduce their pollution. Many of the new requirements to reduce air pollution are already in place for similar facilities in the US. These measures support competitiveness as the petroleum and petrochemical sectors begin to recover from the economic downturn and low energy prices.

Through these measures, the Government of Canada is working to protect human health and the environment and strengthening the clean economy.

The regulations also support clean growth in Canada’s energy sector and complement the commitment to meet and exceed the country’s 2030 emissions-reduction target and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Copies of the final regulations will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on November 11. 


“The pandemic has reminded us how important access to nature and fresh air is to our everyday life and well-being. Our government is proud to be working directly with cities, Indigenous communities, industries, and all Canadians on solutions to protect our air quality. These new regulations will contribute to the health of Canadians while ensuring the prosperity of our economy and protecting jobs today.”
– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change 

“I have always been supportive of improving the air quality and environment for our community while preserving our economic competitiveness and prosperity.”
– Mike Bradley, Mayor of the City of Sarnia 

Quick facts

  • The regulations will lead to $192 million in health benefits from 2021 to 2037. Health benefits include an estimated 34 fewer premature deaths; almost 6,900 fewer days without asthma symptoms; and over 33,600 fewer days of restricted activity. 

  • By inspecting and repairing leaks, the oil and gas industry will avoid losing valuable fuel products, which are also released with volatile-organic-compound emissions. Stopping the leaks will generate revenue of around $49 million for the oil and gas industry, between 2021 and 2037. 

  • Canada’s carbon-pollution pricing system and the Clean Fuel Standard (in development) include emissions-credit-trading systems that will also help to drive down greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas facilities. These systems work by creating incentives for refineries, upgraders, and petrochemical facilities to become more efficient and reduce pollution. 

  • Through a partnership between the Government of Canada, the Aamjiwnaang First Nation, and the Province of Ontario, a permanent air-quality monitoring station provides continuous and real-time data for the Aamjiwnaang First Nation community that borders Sarnia’s refinery and petrochemical district. Data collected will be useful to inform next steps in addressing local air-quality issues. 

Associated links


Moira Kelly
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Twitter page

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Facebook page

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