Canadian Environmental Protection Act annual report 2015 to 2016: chapter 3

3 Administration, Public Participation and Reporting

3.1 Federal, Provincial, Territorial Cooperation

Part 1 of CEPA (Administration) requires the Ministers to establish the National Advisory Committee, composed of one representative for the federal Minister of the Environment and one for the federal Minister of Health, representatives from each province and territory, and not more than six representatives of Aboriginal governments from across Canada.

Part 1 also allows the Minister of the Environment to negotiate an agreement with a provincial or territorial government, or an Aboriginal people, with respect to the administration of the Act. It also allows for equivalency agreements, which allow the Governor in Council to suspend the application of federal regulations in a province or territory that has equivalent regulatory provisions. The intent of an equivalency agreement is to eliminate the duplication of environmental regulations.

National Advisory Committee

The National Advisory Committee provides a forum for provincial, territorial and Aboriginal governments to advise the Ministers on certain actions being proposed under the Act, enables national cooperative action, and seeks to avoid duplication in regulatory activity among governments. The committee is provided opportunities to advise and comment on initiatives under the Act.

To carry out its duties in 2015-2016, the CEPA National Advisory Committee (NAC) held two teleconference meetings, and the NAC Secretariat corresponded regularly with committee members regarding various initiatives implemented under CEPA 1999. These initiatives included opportunities to comment on and be informed of:

In addition, members were provided an opportunity to advise on proposed regulatory initiatives related to ozone-depleting substances and the prohibition of certain toxic substances.

Federal-Provincial/Territorial Agreements

Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem

Since 1971, Canada and Ontario have worked together through the Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem. This agreement guides the efforts of Canada and Ontario in achieving a healthy, prosperous and sustainable Great Lakes Basin ecosystem. It is also an important mechanism for implementing Canada’s obligations under the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

In 2015-2016, Canada and Ontario collaborated to develop recommendations on technical approaches for the management of contaminated sediments in Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOCs) including the St. Clair River, and in the implementation of the Randle Reef Sediment Remediation Project in Hamilton Harbour.

In addition, during 2015-2016, a range of chemical risk management initiatives were delivered under the CMP, as described elsewhere in this report, that supported implementation of the draft Harmful Pollutants Annex Goals under the new COA. These included continuing efforts towards the sound management of chemicals in the Great Lakes through the reduction of releases and the enhancement of knowledge to mitigate risk.

Memorandum of Understanding between Canada and Quebec

Administrative Agreements concerning the pulp and paper sector have been in place between Quebec and the Government of Canada since 1994. The parties currently cooperate through a memorandum of understanding for data collection that is in effect until March 2018, whereby Quebec continues to provide a single data-entry portal for regulatees for the following federal regulations:

Canada-Nova Scotia Equivalency Agreement

The final order for an equivalency agreement between the Minister of the Environment and the Province of Nova Scotia with regard to the federal Reduction of Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Coal-fired Generation Electricity Regulation took effect in July 2015. It was first published in December 2014. The agreement indicates that the provincial GHG emissions cap on electricity producers would achieve the same or better effects than the federal regulation. In accordance with the five-year term limit in CEPA, the agreement is set to terminate at the end of 2019.

Further to this agreement, the Governor in Council adopted an order suspending the application of the federal regulation in Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia Environment reported no enforcement actions between July 2015 and March 2016. More information about these equivalency agreements is available online.

Canada-Alberta Equivalency Agreement

As a result of the 1994 Agreement on the Equivalency of Federal and Alberta Regulations for the Control of Toxic Substances, the following CEPA regulations, or parts thereof, do not apply in Alberta:

Alberta Environment indicated that, in 2015-2016, there were no reported violations by the four pulp and paper mills regulated under the provincial pulp and paper regulations.

Environmental Occurrences Notification Agreements

Federal, provincial and territorial laws require, in most cases, notification of the same environmental emergency or environmental occurrence, such as an oil or chemical spill. To reduce duplication of effort, ECCC and Fisheries and Oceans Canada entered into environmental occurrences notification agreements with the governments of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, the Northwest Territories and Yukon.

These notification agreements are supported by the Release and Environmental Emergency Notification Regulations under CEPA and the Deposit out of the Normal Course of Events Notification Regulations under the Fisheries Act.

The purpose of the notification agreements is to establish a streamlined notification system for persons required to notify federal and provincial/territorial governments of an environmental emergency or environmental occurrence. Under these notification agreements, 24-hour authorities operating for the provinces and territories receive notifications of environmental emergencies or environmental occurrences, on behalf of ECCC, and transfer this information to the Department.

In 2015-2016, ECCC continued to work with provincial and territorial counterparts to implement the notification agreements. This work included the establishment of management committees and the development of standard operating procedures for the collection and processing of notifications of environmental occurrences. Further, ECCC continued its work with the governments of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, the Northwest Territories and Yukon with a view to renewing the notification agreements for another five years. The notification agreements are available online.

3.2 Public Participation

CEPA Environmental Registry

Part 2 of CEPA (Public Participation) provides for the establishment of an environmental registry, whistleblower protection, and the right of an individual to request an investigation and pursue court action.

The CEPA Environmental Registry was launched on ECCC’s website when the Act came into force on March 31, 2000. Continuous efforts are made to increase the Registry’s reliability and ease of use. The Registry encompasses thousands of CEPA-related documents and references. It has become a primary source of environmental information for the public and private sectors, both nationally and internationally, and has been used as a source of information in university and college curricula.

From April 2015 to March 2016, the CEPA Registry website had 196,364 visits, making it the third-largest area visited on the ECCC website, after Weather and Ice. There were approximately 277 public enquiries made concerning CEPA in the last fiscal year. These requests were related to information on various substances, regulations, permits and enforcement.

Public Consultations

During 2015-2016, there were 24 opportunities posted on the Environmental Registry for stakeholders and the public to consult. This is a decrease from previous years, most likely due to the federal election.

Public consultations are available on the CEPA Environmental Registry.

CMP-related Committees

The CMP Stakeholder Advisory Council met in November 2015 for the last meeting under the second mandate. The renewed Council was established in March 2016 for a five-year mandate and met for the first time in April 2016. New membership reflects priorities under this phase of the CMP. Under this new Council, a communications sub-committee was formed to expand and increase communications with key stakeholders and the public. The purpose of the Council is to get stakeholder input on the implementation of the CMP, and to foster dialogue on topics pertaining to the CMP between stakeholders and government, and among different stakeholder groups.

The CMP Science Committee held its third meeting in June 2015. The Science Committee ensures a strong science foundation to CMP by providing external, scientific expertise to Health Canada and ECCC on scientific issues. The Risk Assessment Toolbox was presented at this meeting. Members engaged in constructive discussions as they continued developing the committee’s scientific input for the Government of Canada.

National Pollutant Release Inventory Consultation

The National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) Multi-Stakeholder Work Group is the primary consultation mechanism for the NPRI program, with representatives from industry associations, environmental groups and indigenous organizations providing input on changes to the requirements and other aspects of the program such as tools to access the data. Consultations during 2015-2016 included a face-to-face meeting in February 2016, as well as a number of teleconferences and paper-based consultations on proposed changes to the program requirements. Users of NPRI data are also engaged to get input on how the NPRI can better meet their needs. The NPRI Consultation and Engagement Framework outlines these activities.  

3.3 Reporting

Canadian Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse

Part 4 of CEPA provides the authority for the establishment of a national pollution prevention information clearinghouse to facilitate the collection, exchange and distribution of information regarding pollution prevention.

The Canadian Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse (CPPIC) is a public website that provides Canadians with links to over 1,200 resources containing comprehensive information and tools from Canada and around the world to strengthen their capacity to prevent pollution. In 2015-2016, 60 new records were added to the clearinghouse. Twenty-five percent (25%) percent of the new records are Canadian, and 8% are bilingual. Twenty-seven percent (27%) of new records are applicable to manufacturing sectors, while another 20% are applicable to private households. Overall, CPPIC records were viewed just under 33,000 times in 2015-2016.

State of the Environment Reporting

The Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) program provides data and information to track Canada’s performance on key environmental sustainability issues including climate change and air quality, water quality and availability, and protecting nature. It conveys the state of Canada’s environment in a straightforward and transparent manner. CESI is used to inform citizens and Parliamentarians about current environmental status and trends, and provide policy makers and researchers with comprehensive, unbiased and authoritative information about key environmental issues. The indicators are also the prime vehicle used to measure and report on the progress towards the goals and targets of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, which provides a whole-of-government view of environmental priorities at the federal level, with goals, targets, and implementation strategies.

The indicators are prepared by ECCC with the support of other federal departments, including HC, Statistics Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans, as well as relevant provincial and territorial counterparts. The high-quality data used to calculate indicators originate from a variety of sources, including surveys, measurement networks and other research initiatives that are expected to be maintained and updated for the foreseeable future. Through close collaboration with science and data experts across the federal government, CESI provides results and information on key issues including air quality, water quality, toxic substances and exposure to substances of concern.

Maples in winter against Ottawa sky © Environment and Climate Change Canada
Maples in winter against Ottawa sky © Environment and Climate Change Canada

The indicators are published on the CESI website, showing national and regional results along with the methodology explaining each indicator and links to related socio-economic issues and information.

National Pollutant Release Inventory

The National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) is Canada’s legislated, publicly accessible national inventory of pollutant releases (to air, water and land), disposals and transfers for recycling. The NPRI includes information reported by industrial and other facilities that meet specified criteria and provides the main input to Canada’s comprehensive Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory (APEI). Over 7,700 facilities, located in every province and territory, reported to the NPRI for the 2014 reporting year (see Figure 5).

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 data through an annual summary report, an online data search tool and downloadable datasets encourages industry to prevent and reduce pollutant releases, and improves public understanding about pollution and environmental performance in Canada.

Figure 7: Location of facilities that reported to the NPRI for the 2014 reporting year

Figure 7: Location of facilities that reported to the NPRI for the 2014 reporting year (See long description below)
Description of Figure 7

There are over 7500 facilities, located in every province and territory across Canada. The map identifies there location by the following industry sectors: oil and gas, manufacturing, electricity, mining and quarrying, water and wastewater treatment, and others.

NPRI data for the 2014 reporting year was published in preliminary form in July 2015 and in reviewed form in December 2015.

The NPRI reporting requirements for the 2016 and 2017 reporting years were published in the Canada Gazette in February 2016 and included a number of modifications to NPRI requirements. For example, the reporting threshold was reduced for cobalt (and its compounds), 21 substances that did not meet the NPRI criteria for listing were removed, and a requirement was added to report contextual information such as concentration for water releases.

ECCC undertook a number of initiatives to respond to the needs of NPRI data users during 2015-2016. For example, the Department held consultations on proposed changes to NPRI reporting requirements and increased variety and improved accessibility of datasets to facilitate analysis by data users.

Black Carbon Emission Inventory

In February 2015, ECCC, with the Air Pollutant Emission inventory, published its first national inventory of Black Carbon emissions. The Black Carbon inventory reported emission estimates from industrial sources, residential wood combustion and mobile sources in 2013, largely relying on information in the Air Pollutant Emission inventory. The Black Carbon inventory was developed as part of Canada’s commitments under the Arctic Council and was voluntarily submitted to the UN Economic Commission for Europe. 

Black Carbon emission data are also available on the departmental data catalogue. Further information on the Black Carbon Inventory is available online.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Program

ECCC requires annual reporting of GHG emissions from facilities (mostly large industrial operations) through its Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Program (GHGRP). The GHGRP is part of ECCC’s ongoing effort to develop, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, a nationally consistent, 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.

Key objectives of the GHGRP are to provide Canadians with consistent information on facility-level GHG emissions, to support regulatory initiatives, and to validate industrial emission estimates presented in the National GHG Inventory. The data collected are also shared with provinces and territories.

In April 2015, the 2013 facility-reported data and related overview report were made publicly available as part of a broader departmental release of GHG information products, which also included the latest National GHG Inventory and updated CESI GHG indicators.

Environmental Offenders Registry and Enforcement Notifications

The Environmental Offenders Registry contains information on convictions of corporations obtained under certain federal environmental laws including CEPA. The Registry contains convictions obtained for offences committed since June 18, 2009--when the Environmental Enforcement Act received Royal Assent. This tool allows the media and the public to search for corporate convictions using the name for the corporation, its home province, the province where the offence occurred, or the legislation under which the conviction was obtained. Keywords can also be used to search the registry.

The Enforcement Notifications contain information about successful prosecutions across Canada under the acts and regulations administrated by ECCC or involving ECCC enforcement officers (including CEPA).

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