Government of Canada welcomes reports from the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development

News release

April 30, 2024 – Ottawa, Ontario

The Government of Canada welcomes the five reports tabled by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development today, which assess federal management of environmental and sustainable development issues and work to mitigate climate change. The findings and recommendations offered by the reports support accountability and transparency and strengthen ongoing work to protect and preserve Canadian communities for future generations.

Federal departments are already taking steps to address a number of the Commissioner’s recommendations.

The ministers of Environment and Climate Change; Northern Affairs; Agriculture and Agri-Food; Innovation, Science and Industry; and the President of the Treasury Board of Canada provided the following statements.


Report 1 – Contaminated sites in the North

“I want to thank the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development for his report and welcome his observations of the work that we are doing to protect the environment. The Government of Canada is committed to taking the necessary actions to clean up federal contaminated sites for the health of the environment and Canadians. We are investing to identify sites, assess risks, estimate costs, and record liabilities, and remediate and close these sites. Since 2005, over 24,000 federal contaminated sites have been identified, and we have successfully closed more than 75 percent of them, meaning they no longer pose a risk. We will continue to make progress to address the remaining sites.

The Commissioner states that contaminated sites in Northern Canada have not been managed to reduce the financial liability under our programs. However, it is important to note that increasing liability amounts reflect the fact that more sites have been assessed, revealing the more accurate underlying liabilities. The ongoing assessment and remediation activities throughout Canada help the Government understand the true scope and scale of contamination. Contamination at many of the sites is the result of historic activities, spanning decades. Without the significant actions taken by the Government, that liability would amount to an additional $4.6 billion.

Healthy land is fundamental to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. The Government of Canada has assessed and remediated thousands of contaminated sites in places where Indigenous peoples live. Government programs to address contamination have also been an important source of employment, particularly for many Indigenous communities in the North. We will continue to build upon the efforts we have taken so far to ensure that work at contaminated sites supports reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister Environment and Climate Change

“The recommendations of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development report will help Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs improve the effectiveness of the Northern Contaminated Sites Program. This will, in turn, result in more efficient and effective remediation of Northern contaminated sites, greater economic opportunities for Northern Indigenous communities, and a cleaner Northern environment.

On our shared path toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, we’re actively exploring ways to promote Indigenous participation in remediation activities and ensuring they benefit from the management of contaminated sites in the North. This occurs through the many community benefits agreements signed with Indigenous governments, which are developed with Indigenous partners and aligned with community priorities.

Protecting the health and safety of Indigenous and Northern communities and the environment is a key component of the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework, as we work to advance reconciliation and renew relationships with Indigenous peoples based on respect, partnership, and recognition of rights.”
– The Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs

Report 2 – Greening of building materials in public infrastructure

“Under the Greening Government Strategy, we are taking important steps to cut emissions across government and reach our goal of net-zero operations by 2050. I thank the Commissioner for his report and findings. Through Buy Clean measures and this overarching Strategy, we are building on Canada’s world-class clean manufacturing advantage to encourage the use of construction materials that reduce carbon emissions for federally owned major construction projects. We agree with the Commissioner’s recommendation and will collaborate with key stakeholders to identify which high-embodied carbon structural materials should be included in the Standard on Embodied in Construction by the end of March 2025. We will continue to work within our ambitious Strategy to reduce emissions in government operations and leverage the government’s purchasing power.”
– The Honourable Anita Anand, President of the Treasury Board

Report 3 – Zero plastic waste

“The Commissioner’s report provided valuable observations that help strengthen the federal government’s work to protect the environment by tackling plastic waste and pollution. It also provided recommendations on reporting out to Canadians on progress toward zero plastic waste. Finally, it recognized that actions by Canadians, including all orders of government, Indigenous communities, industry, and civil society are needed to address this pressing issue.

For its part, the Government of Canada recently launched a Federal Plastics Registry to require producers to report annually on the quantity and types of plastic they place on the Canadian market, how these plastics move through the economy, and how they are managed at their end-of-life. The data it collects will be valuable in designing and delivering targeted actions and measuring progress, not just by the Government of Canada, but by all stakeholders, to reach zero plastic waste and transition to a circular plastics economy. This is just one example of Canada’s comprehensive plan to reduce plastic waste and pollution and improve how plastics are made, used, and managed to keep them in the economy and out of the environment.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister Environment and Climate Change

Report 4 – Strategic Innovation Fund’s Net Zero Accelerator initiative – Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

“I would like to thank the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development for his recommendations. At Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, we are always looking for ways to improve our program delivery.

Already, the Strategic Innovation Fund’s $8 billion Net Zero Accelerator initiative has made important contributions to Canada’s climate goals by supporting the decarbonization of heavy emitters. While we would prefer to reduce heavy emissions even further by 2030, company readiness is a factor, since many heavy emitters are still in the planning stages of their decarbonization initiatives. This is why the Net Zero Accelerator is about so much more than 2030 goals—it’s shaping our clean economy for decades to come and building a net-zero future.

The Net Zero Accelerator has supported the industrial transformation of Canada’s traditional industries and promoted both clean technology development and the battery ecosystem. Just as important as Canada’s 2030 emissions reduction goals, these objectives cannot be measured by immediate carbon reductions.

Therefore, an assessment of the Net Zero Accelerator program’s value is incomplete if it does not include the commitments to create or maintain over 34,000 good-paying jobs, and the investments in the technology of the future that will help business and industrial sectors achieve our 2050 net-zero goals. The program’s processes align with international standards, support sound investment decisions, and incorporate the advice of greenhouse gas experts.

Already, there are signs of success: Canada’s net-zero economy grew to $14 billion in 2023, according to RBC. The Net Zero Accelerator is setting the stage for a net-zero future and supporting the prosperity of Canadians as we transition to a clean economy.”
– The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Report 5 – Agriculture and climate change mitigation – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

“There is no doubt we need to do more to help the agriculture sector reduce emissions, and quickly. I would like to thank the Commissioner for the work and research undertaken in preparing the Agriculture and Climate Change Mitigation Report, and I am pleased to share that work is well underway to action the recommendations. Since 2020, the Government of Canada has announced over $1.5 billion in funding to advance climate change mitigation in the sector, including the Agricultural Clean Technology Program, the Agricultural Climate Solutions – Living Labs Program, and the On-Farm Climate Action Fund. We are also preparing work on a Sustainable Agriculture Strategy, which has been developed in partnership with folks from across the agriculture sector, including producers, provincial and territorial representatives, and Indigenous partners, and will set a shared vision to support the sector’s ambition and actions on climate change and sustainability. Canadian farmers work hard every day to produce the best products in the world and are already making significant efforts to be more sustainable. Being on the front lines of climate change, they have felt the devastating effects first-hand, from droughts to wildfires to floods. It is vitally important that we collectively take action to support their livelihoods and the long-term success and sustainability of the sector.”
– The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food


For questions about the government response to the reports, media are invited to contact the lead department(s) directly:

Kaitlin Power
Senior Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
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

Audrey Champoux
Press Secretary and Senior Communications Advisor
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Carson Debert
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Dan Vandal
Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Media Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Francis Chechile
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
613-773-7972 or 1-866-345-7972 (toll-free)

Ronny Al-Nosir
Press Secretary
Office of the President of the Treasury Board of Canada

Media Relations
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
613-369-9400 or 1-855-827-9728 (toll-free)

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