Summary report on the public workshops assisting Environment Canada and Health Canada in preparing for the parliamentary review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) includes a provision requiring that the Act be referred to Parliament for review five years after its entry into force. Given that the Act came into force March 31, 2000, it must be referred to Parliament by March 31, 2005, and the review will begin sometime thereafter.
The Parliamentary Committee assigned to review CEPA 1999 will have up to one year from the time it begins to undertake the task and submit a report to Parliament on the changes it recommends to the Act and/or its administration. The Committee may be granted an extension. From the point of tabling its report in Parliament, the Government of Canada will have 150 days to respond to the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Committee. If the report and government response call for amendments to the legislation, the final phase will consist of either amendments or a new bill, which will follow the normal parliamentary process. Given these timelines, a revised CEPA might be expected to come into force around 2008. However, identified administrative improvements in the implementation of the Act do not require legislative amendments and could commence as soon as practical.
While it is a Parliamentary Committee which will undertake the review of the Act, the federal Ministers of the Environment and Health intend to provide their advice to the Committee. In order to assist in their preparations for the review, and as well, to help Canadians prepare for the Review, Environment Canada and Health Canada (sometimes referred to as "the departments" in this Report) have undertaken a number of initiatives, including:
- the release in late 2004 of a CEPA 1999 Scoping Paper (Scoping the Issues: Preparation for the Parliamentary Review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999) to provide background information for the public engagement process to assist Environment Canada and Health Canada in preparing for the Parliamentary Review. The CEPA 1999 Scoping Paper is an extensive document covering the context for the review, broad themes addressing the Act and specific issues that have been identified as priorities for consideration by the two departments in preparing for the Parliamentary Review;
- an interactive website, specifically designed around the CEPA Review activities was set up within the CEPA Environmental Registry. The website provides detailed information on CEPA 1999, its policies and processes, and additional background information, including: fact sheets on various aspects of CEPA 1999, a comprehensive plain language Guide to Understanding the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 and the CEPA 1999 Scoping Paper. (Note: this section of Registry will continue to provide detailed information throughout the Review process). The website also allowed for electronic inputs on the CEPA 1999 Scoping Paper or any other matter any person wished to raise with respect to CEPA 1999 and the Review process; and,
- six public workshops held across Canada in late January and early February, 2005, to allow any one with an interest in CEPA 1999 to express their views.
The stated purposes of the web-based engagement process and the public workshops included:
- providing background information to help Canadians develop their views on CEPA 1999 issues;
- hearing from Canadians about their experiences with CEPA 1999 and in particular the challenges they feel need to be addressed during the Parliamentary Review; and,
- inviting feedback from Canadians on the issues that Environment Canada and Health Canada officials identified in the CEPA 1999 Scoping Paper as priorities for consideration in preparing for the Parliamentary Review.
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