Canada-wide environmental standards

Canada-wide Standards (CWS) are intergovernmental agreements developed under the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Canada-wide environmental standards sub-agreement, which operates under the broader CCME Canada-wide accord on environmental harmonization. CWS flow from a political commitment by federal, provincial and territorial Ministers to address key environmental protection and health risk issues that require concerted action across Canada. CWS represent co-operation toward a common goal and involve no delegation of authority by any federal, provincial or territorial Minister of Environment.

CWS can include qualitative or quantitative standards, guidelines, objectives and criteria for protecting the environment and reducing risks to human health. The focus of the Canada-wide environmental standards sub-agreement is on standards that recommend levels or concentrations of substances in the surrounding environment. The levels or concentrations contained in the standards are generally those that provide protection for the environment and human health and are technologically and economically achievable. It is also possible to tailor Canada-wide standards to the specific priorities (for example, standards for products, discharge limits for a substance from a particular source or type of source such as steel-plants, emission reductions). Generally, each standard includes a target, a time frame for achieving the target, a list of governments' initial actions towards achieving the standard, and a protocol for reporting to the public on progress achieved.

While the standards are developed by CCME, the Minister uses s. 9 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) related to administrative agreements to enter into the commitments accepted by CCME for the substance targeted by the standard.

To date, the following CWS have been adopted by the CCME:

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