3. Information Gathering, Objectives, Guidelines and Codes of Practice (Part 3, Sections 3.3-3.5)

Environmental quality guidelines specify recommendations in quantitative or qualitative terms to support and maintain particular uses of the environment. Table 1 lists the environmental quality guidelines that were published or being developed nationally through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) in 2010–2011. During the same period, Environment Canada developed federal environmental quality guidelines for various chemicals identified in the CMP (Table 1). Where federal priorities align with those of the CCME (i.e., those of the various provincial and territorial jurisdictions), the federal environmental quality guidelines will be tabled with the CCME for consideration as national values.

Table 1: Environmental quality guidelines from April 2010 to March 2011
Environmental Compartment Published In Progress
Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (federal, provincial and territorial)
Water • Uranium
  • 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid
  • Cadmium
  • Chloride
  • Glyphosate
  • Nitrate
  • Trichlorfon
  • Zinc
Soil • N-Hexane
  • Nickel
  • Zinc
Chemicals Management Plan (federal)
  • Bisphenol A
  • Chlorinated paraffins
  • HBCD
  • PBDEs
  • PFOS
  • Triclosan
  • Chlorinated paraffins
  • PBDEs
  • HBCD
  • Cobalt
  • Hydrazine
  • Pentachlorophenol
  • Vanadium oxide
  • Bisphenol A
  • Chlorinated paraffins
  • HBCD
  • PBDEs
  • PFOS
  • HBCD

Note: Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD); polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs); perfluorooctane sulphonate (PFOS); tetrabromobisphenol (TBBPA).

Health Canada develops the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Qualityand their supporting documents under the authority of CEPA 1999. Priorities for developing guidelines are established in consultation with the provinces and territories.

Health-based guideline values are developed for microbiological, chemical and radiological contaminants that are found or expected to be found in drinking water supplies across Canada at levels that could lead to adverse health effects.

Documents are also developed under the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Qualityto provide operational or management guidance related to specific drinking water-related issues (such as boil-water advisories) or to make risk assessment information available when a guideline is not deemed necessary (such as controlling corrosion in drinking water distribution systems).

Table 2 lists the documents that were completed or in progress in 2010–2011.

Table 2: Guideline documents for Canadian drinking water quality from April 2010 to March 2011
In Progress
  • N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA)
  • Fluoride
  • Carbon tetracholoride
  • Dichloromethane
  • Viruses
  • 1,2-dichloroethane
  • 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid
  • Ammonia
  • Chromium
  • Enteric viruses
  • Nitrate/nitrite
  • Protozoa
  • Selenium
  • Tetrachloroethylene
  • Vinyl chloride
  • Lead
  • Bromate
  • Aluminum
  • Manganese
  • pH
  • Atrazine
  • Heterotrophic plate count
  • Bacterial waterborne pathogens
  • Microbiological quality

In 2010–2011, Health Canada published the following notices in the Canada Gazette, Part I:

Environmental indicators provide a straightforward and transparent way to convey the state of Canada's environment. The Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) are a system of national environmental indicators used to inform citizens about current environmental trends and to provide policy makers and researchers with a baseline of comprehensive, unbiased and authoritative information in relation to key environmental issues. Following the release of the first Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) in 2010, CESI has been identified as the prime instrument for measuring progress of the FSDS via an expanded suite of indicators.

The selection of environmental indicators is based on a number of key criteria. Indicators must be relevant to the government's policy direction. They must be useful and easily understood by decision makers and the public, built on consistent and solid methodology that is comparable over time and across geographies, and based on high-quality data that is expected to be maintained and updated for the foreseeable future.

The indicators are prepared by Environment Canada with the support of other federal departments, including Health Canada, Statistics Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as well as their relevant provincial and territorial counterparts. CESI publishes extensive environmental baseline data from statistical surveys, environmental measurement networks, and research that supports the government's environmental initiatives. The CESI website presents national and regional results, along with the methodology that explains the indicator, and links to related socio-economic issues and information. It provides results and information for 20 environmental indicators, including coverage of areas such as GHG emissions, air quality, water quality and protected areas. Below are the national results for some of the key CESI indicators published in 2010–2011:

The National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) is Canada's legislated, publicly accessible inventory of pollutant releases (to air, water and land), disposals and transfers for recycling. The NPRI includes information reported by industrial facilities that meet certain criteria. It also includes emission estimates for a number of key air pollutants from other sources such as motor vehicles, residential heating, forest fires and agriculture. Over 8400 facilities, located in every province and territory, reported to the NPRI for 2009 (see Figure 1).

The NPRI supports the identification and management of risks to the environment and human health, including the development of policies and regulations on toxic substances and air quality. Public access to the NPRI encourages industry to prevent and reduce pollutant releases and improves public understanding about pollution and environmental performance in Canada.

Location of facilities that reported to the NPRI in 2009.

The following NPRI data were made publicly available in 2010–2011:

Environment Canada undertook a number of initiatives to improve the quality of NPRI data in 2010–2011. For example, the Department worked with industrial sectors and provincial governments to improve technical guidance information for facilities that report to the NPRI and conducted emissions tests to help enhance the consistency and accuracy of reporting. In addition, a multi-stakeholder consultation session was held with NPRI data users to gain a better understanding of their needs. The Department also published information to promote the effective use of NPRI data.

The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Program (GHGRP) lays the foundation for the development of a single, domestic, mandatory GHG reporting system, in order to meet the GHG reporting needs of all jurisdictions and to minimize the reporting burden for industry and government.

Starting with 2009 facility data, the threshold for mandatory reporting of emissions to the program was lowered, resulting in an increase in the number of reporting facilities.

The main objectives of the GHGRP are to provide Canadians with timely information on GHG emissions, support the development of regulations, support provincial and territorial requirements for GHG emissions information, and validate estimates presented in the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory. The data are reported through a single reporting system, by facilities, to Environment Canada. For 2009, 522 facilities reported to the GHGRP, up from 350 for 2008 due to the reporting threshold change. The report entitled Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Program: Overview of 2009 Facility Data was released on December 16, 2010. Data tables, an online query tool and a downloadable file were also made available.

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