Canadian Environmental Protection Act: enforcement and compliance

The Environmental Enforcement Act (EEA) is omnibus legislation that modernized and harmonized the fine regimes and sentencing provisions of 9 environmental Acts and introduced new enforcement tools. The combined effect of these measures is to help achieve greater compliance with federal environmental legislation. A more detailed description of the EEA can be found on the EEA webpage.

The EEA fine regime applies whenever an offence under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) is prosecuted. Under the updated fine regime, which came into force on June 22, 2012, the contravention of designated provisions subjects the offender to minimum fines and higher maximum fines upon conviction. For offences set out in CEPA, designated offences are listed in the Act itself. For offences set out in regulations under CEPA, designated offences are listed in a separate regulation, the Regulations Designating Regulatory Provisions for Purposes of Enforcement (Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999).

Report on the Review of the Federal Environmental Fines and Sentencing Regime - 10 years later

On behalf of the Minister, Environment and Climate Change Canada and Parks Canada conducted a review of the environmental fines and sentencing provisions under 10 federal environmental Acts (the Review) 10 years after the provisions were adopted. The purpose of the Review was to evaluate whether the fine amounts and sentencing principles in the 10 Acts advance the goals of the regime and remain consistent with public values, as well as economic and other relevant circumstances. The Review found that the fine amounts and sentencing principles in the Acts continue to advance the goals of the sentencing regime (such as deterrence and polluter pays principle) and remain consistent with public values, as well as economic and other relevant circumstances. The final report on the review was tabled in each House of Parliament on December 9, 2021.

Administrative monetary penalties under CEPA Parts 7 and 9

The EEA also introduced the Environmental Violations Administrative Monetary Penalties Act (EVAMPA), which sets out the framework for the establishment of a fair and efficient administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) regime. AMPs are penalties designed to create a financial disincentive to non-compliance with designated legislative requirements and to provide an alternative to other enforcement measures, which may not be effective or available in all situations.

The Environmental Violations Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations (AMPs Regulations), which were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II on June 14, 2017, complete the AMPs regime by establishing key details of this regime. The AMPs Regulations designate violations of Parts 7 and 9 of CEPA, and violations of regulations created under those Parts, that may be enforced by means of an AMP.

More information about the AMPs regime is available on the EVAMPA webpage.

Fact sheets

Canadians expect the Government of Canada to provide laws and regulations in order to protect them and their society, and these laws and regulations must be effectively enforced. The Parliament of Canada has ensured that CEPA will be enforced by stipulating the Government of Canada’s duty of enforcement directly in the Act at paragraph 2(1)(o).

The role of enforcement under CEPA

Principles of CEPA enforcement

CEPA review officers

Enforcement measures

Environmental protection alternative measures (EPAMs)

Environmental damages fund

Environmental damages fund evaluation

Prosecutions under CEPA - Statistical and detailed reports on environmental protection enforcement activities

Historical records on enforcement actions are available in the CEPA annual reports archives. Recent enforcement actions are available via the Enforcement notifications. To obtain more information and/or provide comments, visit the environmental enforcement webpage.

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