Canadian Environmental Protection Act: guidelines, objectives and codes of practice

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) 1999 provides for the preparation of guidelines, objectives and codes of practice in relation to a wide range of issues. Guidelines or objectives may be prepared to indicate government policy direction for the implementation of certain provisions of CEPA 1999. Guidelines, objectives and codes of practice may also be developed to give industries and regulators clear direction on how to reduce emissions, effluents, and wastes. Environment Canada consults with interested parties to develop such tools. As a result, guidelines, objectives, and codes of practice reflect a shared, national view of environmental measures. Such tools are not law, but may form the basis for laws and regulations.

In Part 3 of CEPA 1999, the Minister of the Environment (Section 54) and the Minister of Health (Section 55) are enabled to create a wide range of non-regulatory tools, such as guidelines and codes for environmentally sound practices, and objectives for desirable levels of environmental quality. Such tools provide a scientific basis for the development of environmental quality/human health objectives and for performance measures for strategic options and risk management initiatives. Guidelines or objectives can be developed to set a numerical concentration for toxic substances in water, agricultural water, ambient and indoor air, soil, sediment, and human and animal tissue. Similarly, codes of practice can be developed, providing systematic collections of principles or rules describing accepted (desirable) professional or operating practice.

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