Air pollution: regulations for vehicles and engines

Regulatory development

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) transfers the legislative authority for regulating emissions from on-road vehicles and engines to Environment Canada from Transport Canada's Motor Vehicle Safety Act. CEPA 1999 also includes new authorities to regulate emissions from off-road vehicles and engines. Information concerning all regulatory activity under CEPA 1999 can be found on the CEPA 1999 Registry

As set out in the Federal Agenda on Cleaner Vehicles, Engines and Fuels, Environment Canada is developing a series of emission regulations for on-road and off-road vehicles and engines under Part 7, Division 5 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

For more information on energy and transportation regulations, click here.

Regulations for on-road vehicles and engines

Since 1971, the federal government has adopted increasingly stringent standards for smog-forming emissions from motor vehicles. The most recent emission regulations for new on-road vehicles and engines were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on January 1, 2003. The On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations came into force on January 1, 2004. The Regulations align emission standards with the U.S. federal standards and apply to light-duty vehicles (e.g., passenger cars), light-duty trucks (e.g., vans, pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles), heavy-duty vehicles (e.g., trucks and buses), heavy-duty engines and motorcycles.

Regulations for off-road vehicles and engines

Several regulations establish emission standards for off-road vehicles and engines. They are the first emission regulations targeted at the off-road sector in Canada and are aligned with those of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The off-road sector includes a broad range of vehicle and engine applications ranging from small engines used to power lawn and garden equipment through to much larger engines used to power agricultural, construction and forestry equipment. This sector also includes engines used to power recreational equipment such as snowmobiles and personal watercrafts.

The Off-Road Small Spark-Ignition Engine Emission Regulations came into force on January 1, 2005. The Off-Road Compression-Ignition Engine Emission Regulations came into force on January 1, 2006. The Marine Spark-Ignition Engine, Vessel and Off-Road Recreational Vehicle Emission Regulations were published February 16, 2011.

Contributing to clean air objectives

The on-road and off-road vehicle and engine regulations in combination with the fuels regulations specified under the Federal Agenda will contribute to accomplishing the following:

  • reduce emissions of hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), particulate matter (PM) and of certain air pollutants that have been listed in Schedule 1 to CEPA 1999 (e.g., benzene, 1,3-butadiene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein and respirable particulate matter less than or equal to 10 micrometers or "PM10") from on-road and off-road vehicles and engines.
  • fulfill several of Canada's commitments under the Ozone Annex to the 1991 Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement (December 7, 2000). Actions under the Ozone Annex will reduce the transboundary flow of ground-level ozone and its precursors (NOx and VOCs) between the United States and Canada; and
  • contribute to meeting the established targets specified in the Canada-wide Standards for Particulate Matter and Ozone that the Government of Canada, most provinces and the territories adopted in June 2000. The Canada-wide Standards set ambient air quality concentration targets for ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter for the year 2010.

The emissions reductions achieved through existing regulations and these new regulations will contribute to improved air quality in Canada and benefit the health of Canadians.

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