Canadian Environmental Protection Act annual report 2016 to 2017: 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.

National Advisory Committee

The National Advisory Committee (NAC) 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 2016–2017, the CEPA NAC held two teleconference meetings, and the NAC Secretariat corresponded regularly with committee members regarding various initiatives implemented under CEPA. These initiatives included opportunities to comment on and be informed of numerous actions taken under the act.

This includes various risk assessment activities under the CMP, including:

  • the publication of 22 draft screening assessments which included 297 substances, 9 groups of substances, and 18 living organisms
  • the publication of 20 final screening assessments which included 991 substances, 10 groups of substances, and 8 living organisms
  • 4 proposed orders to add 5 substances to Schedule 1, the List of Toxic Substances
  • 2 final orders which added 44 petroleum and refinery gases, and plastic microbeads to Schedule 1

Members were also informed of numerous risk management activities, including:

  • 5 Notices of Intent to vary, apply or rescind significant new activity provisions to various substances under the Chemicals Management Plan
  • proposed environmental emergency regulations, 2016
  • proposed regulations amending the heavy-duty vehicle and engine GHG emission regulations and other regulations
  • publication of proposed regulations amending the Off-Road Small Spark-Ignition Engine Emissions Regulations
  • proposed environmental violations administrative monetary penalties regulations
  • proposed amendments to the Concentration of phosphorus in certain cleaning products regulations
  • proposed Microbeads in Toiletries Regulations
  • publication of the Multi-Sector Air Pollutants Regulations
  • publication of 3 codes of practice to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC), total particulate matter and fine particulate matter (PM2.5)
  • publication of 2 proposed codes of practice, one for 2-(2-Methoxyethoxy) ethanol (DEGME); and one dealing with end-of-life lamps containing mercury
  • information on consultations regarding the regulatory approach to prohibit the manufacture and import of lead wheel weights in Canada
  • consultation on the development of a proposed pollution prevention plan notice for PREPOD

Members were provided with an offer to consult on:

  • federal environmental quality guidelines for certain substances under section 54 of CEPA
  • Canadian ambient air quality standards for SO2
  • proposed instruments to manage air pollutants from the pulp & paper sector, potash sector, aluminum sector, iron ore pellet sector, base metals smelting sector, iron, steel and ilmenite sector and natural gas-fueled stationary combustion turbines

In addition, members were provided an opportunity to advise on proposed regulatory initiatives related to:

  • ozone-depleting substances and halocarbon alternatives
  • hydrocarbons emitted from the upstream oil and gas sector
  • the prohibition of certain toxic substances

Members were also informed of:

  • information gathering notices with respect to asbestos, and chemical substances included as part of the 2017 inventory update
  • upcoming meetings of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm, Basel and Rotterdam Conventions
  • publication of the reviewed 2015 national pollutant release inventory data
  • introduction of Bill C-13 in the House of Commons and its Royal Assent in December 2016, which will enable Canada to comply with the Agreement on Trade Facilitation under the World Trade Organization
  • the mandatory review of the act by the House of Commons standing committee on environment and sustainable development

Federal-provincial/territorial agreements

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.

Canada–Ontario agreement on Great Lakes water guality and ecosystem health

Since 1971, Canada and Ontario have worked together through a Canada–Ontario agreement to support the restoration and protection of the Lakes basin ecosystem. The 2014 agreement guides the efforts of Canada and Ontario to restore, protect and conserve Great Lakes water quality and ecosystem health in order to assist in achieving the vision of a health, prosperous and sustainable region for present and future generations. It is also an important mechanism for implementing Canada’s obligations under the Canada–United States Great Lakes water quality agreement.

In 2016–2017, construction of the Randle Reef engineered containment facility began as the first stage of this three stage project to remediate contaminated sediments in the Hamilton Harbour area of concern. The project is expected to be complete by 2022. Canada and Ontario are continuing to work with industry towards a solution to remediate historical contaminated sites in the St. Clair River.

Two significant Canada-Ontario agreement commitments were delivered in 2016–2017: 1) a report summarizing past and current research, monitoring and risk management activities and achievements on chemicals identified as Tier I and Tier II was finalized and published and; 2) the first chemicals of concern in the Great Lakes basin were designated for priority action (the brominated flame retardants polybrominated diphenyl ethers and hexabromocyclododecane; lead; mercury; the perfluorinated compounds perfluorooctanoic acid, perfluorooctane sulfonate and long chain perfluorinated carboxylic acids; polychlorinated biphenyls; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; and short chain chlorinated paraffins).

In addition, during 2016–2017, a range of continuing chemical risk management initiatives were delivered under the CMP, as described earlier in this report, that supported implementation of the harmful pollutants annex goals under the new Canada-Ontario agreement. 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:

  • Pulp and Paper Mill Effluent Chlorinated Dioxins and Furans Regulations made pursuant to CEPA
  • Pulp and Paper Mill Defoamer and Wood Chip Regulations made pursuant to CEPA
  • Pulp and Paper Effluent Regulations made pursuant to the Fisheries Act
Canada–Nova Scotia equivalency agreement

An equivalency agreement between the Government of Canada represented by the Minister of the Environment and the Government of Nova Scotia represented by their Minister of Environment regarding the federal Reduction of Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Coal-fired Generation of Electricity Regulations took effect in July 2015.  Further to this agreement, the Governor in Council adopted an order suspending the application of the federal regulation in Nova Scotia. In accordance with the five-year term limit in CEPA, the agreement is set to terminate at the end of 2019.

Nova Scotia Environment reported no enforcement actions between April 2016 and March 2017.

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:

  • Pulp and Paper Mill Effluent Chlorinated Dioxins and Furans Regulations (all sections)
  • Pulp and Paper Mill Defoamer and Wood Chip Regulations [4(1), 6(2), 6(3)(b), 7 and 9]
  • Secondary Lead Smelter Release Regulations (all sections)

Alberta Environment indicated that, in 2016–2017, 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 2016–2017, ECCC renewed the notification agreements between the Government of Canada and the Governments of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Yukon, and continued its work with these governments to effectively process notifications of environmental occurrences. 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 2016 to March 2017, the CEPA registry website had 178,751 visits, making it the third-largest area visited on the ECCC website, after Weather and Ice. There were approximately 300 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 2016–2017, there were 67 opportunities posted on the environmental registry for stakeholders and the public to consult.

Please see CEPA registry public consultations, available online.

CMP-related committees

The CMP science committee held its 5th meeting in November 2016. Considerations for integrating new approach methodologies within the CMP were presented at this meeting. Members engaged in constructive discussions as they continued developing the Committee’s scientific input for the Government of Canada. The Science Committee ensures a strong science foundation to CMP by providing external, scientific expertise to Health Canada and ECCC on scientific issues. Meeting records and reports are available online.

The CMP stakeholder advisory council met twice in 2016–2017. The purpose of the council is to obtain stakeholder advice on the implementation of the CMP, and to foster dialogue on issues pertaining to the CMP between stakeholders and government, and also among different stakeholder groups.

In November 2016, the government hosted a multi-stakeholder workshop to engage and receive input from stakeholders on issues important to chemicals management in Canada beyond 2020.

Two issues of the CMP progress report were published in June and December 2016. The CMP progress report has been created to keep stakeholders and other interested parties up to date on the activities and programs related to the CMP. The report is produced jointly by ECCC and HC and is published twice a year.

Stakeholder awareness activities were undertaken in 2016–2017, focusing on targeted stakeholders, in order to facilitate information sharing. These activities included the continuation of the webinar series with non-industry health and environment stakeholders with sessions on risk management, public outreach, and enforcement. The regions delivered 137 stakeholder engagement activities related to chemical effects on health and approximately 15,786 brochures were distributed. The number of interactions with stakeholders was approximately 10,425 throughout the country. The renewal of regional stakeholder inventories was also undertaken to enhance information gathering, compliance promotion and industry outreach.

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 2016–2017 included a number of teleconferences and paper-based consultations, on proposed changes to the program requirements for 2018 reporting, including for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, hexavalent chromium, the oil and gas extraction sector and additional contextual information for data users.

In addition to the above-mentioned consultation, the NPRI program does many activities to share information and hear ideas from stakeholders and the public. These activities include engaging users of NPRI data to get input on how to meet their needs; working collaboratively with other government programs and international organizations; and updating stakeholders regularly on the NPRI. The details of these activities can be found on the NPRI web section.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Program consultation

Environment and Climate Change Canada is proposing changes to its facility Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Program (GHGRP). ECCC published the Notice of intent to inform stakeholders of upcoming consultations on proposed changes to the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program in the Canada Gazette on December 10, 2016. Consultations with stakeholders (provincial and territorial governments, industry) started in early 2017.

Further information about the GHGRP consultation is available online.

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 1300 resources containing comprehensive information and tools from Canada and around the world to strengthen their capacity to prevent pollution. In 2016–2017, 119 new records were added to the clearinghouse. Thirty-nine percent (39%) percent of the new records are Canadian, and 14% are bilingual. Twenty-six percent (26%) of new records are applicable to manufacturing sectors, while another 40% are applicable to private households. Overall, CPPIC records were viewed more than 30 000 times in 2016–2017.

State of the Environment Reporting

The Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) program provides results and information on key environmental sustainability issues including climate change and air quality, water quality and availability, wildlife, biodiversity, toxic substances and exposure to substances of concern. 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 prepared by ECCC through close collaboration with science and data experts across the federal government, 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.

The indicators are published on the CESI web section, 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 7000 facilities, located in every province and territory, reported to the NPRI for the 2015 reporting year (Figure 11).

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, location-based data for use in mapping and downloadable datasets encourages industry to prevent and reduce pollutant releases, and improves public understanding about pollution and environmental performance in Canada.

Figure 11: Location of facilities that reported to the NPRI for the 2016 reporting year

Figure 11: Location of facilities that reported to the NPRI for the 2016 reporting year

* This map shows NPRI reporting facilities for 2015 (7,284 facilities), excluding those that did not meet the reporting criteria (1,327 facilities).

Long description for figure 11

Each of the facilities reporting emissions under the NPRI in the 2017 reporting year are indicated on a map of Canada. Both the mining and electricity sector facilities are scattered uniformly across Canada. The oil and gas sector facilities are primarily clustered in Alberta, with other groupings of facilities in southern Saskatchewan and in the offshore area off Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Facilities involved in manufacturing are clustered in southern Quebec and Ontario with other facilities scattered across the country. 

NPRI data for the 2015 reporting year was published in preliminary form in July 2016 and in reviewed form in December 2016.

During 2016–2017, ECCC undertook a number of initiatives to respond to the needs of various users of NPRI data. For example, the Department held consultations on proposed changes to NPRI reporting requirements that are proposed to take effect for the 2018 reporting year, and continued to improve the accessibility of datasets to facilitate analysis by data users with the publication of 2015 data.

Pollution prevention data submitted to the NPRI is analyzed and outlined in the NPRI annual summary report. Pollution prevention activity data submitted by facilities is also summarized in ECCC’s Pollution prevention in practice fact sheets. These fact sheets provide an overview of the implementation of the seven common pollution prevention activities among Canadian facilities. Visit for more information on pollution prevention data from the NPRI.

Air pollutant emission inventory

Canada’s air pollutant emission inventory (APEI) is a comprehensive inventory of air pollutant emissions at the national, provincial and territorial level. The APEI compiles emissions of 17 air pollutants contributing to smog, acid rain and poor air quality since 1990.

This inventory serves many purposes including fulfilling Canada’s international reporting obligations under the 1979 Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP) and the associated protocols ratified by Canada for the reduction of emissions of sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), dioxins and furans, and other persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The APEI also supports monitoring and reporting obligations under the Canada–U.S. Air Quality Agreement, the development of air quality management strategies, policies and regulations, provides data for air quality forecasting models, and informs Canadians about pollutants that affect their health and the environment.

APEI data are available on the departmental data catalogue as well as

Black carbon emission inventory

As a member of the Arctic Council, Canada has committed to producing an annual inventory of black carbon emissions. The associated report serves to inform Canadians about black carbon emissions and provide valuable information for the development of air quality management strategies.

With the exception of emissions from on-road vehicle, the data used to quantify black carbon emissions are taken from the Air Pollutant Emission Inventory, specifically fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions from combustion-related sources, such as residential wood burning.

Black carbon emission data are also available on the departmental data catalogue as well as

Greenhouse gas inventory

As a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Canada is obligated to prepare and submit an annual national greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory covering anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks. Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for preparing Canada’s official national inventory with input from numerous experts and scientists across Canada. The National Inventory Report (NIR) contains Canada’s annual GHG emission estimates dating back to 1990. In addition to providing GHG emission data by mandatory reporting categories, the NIR also presents emission data by Canadian economic sectors, which better support policy analysis and development.

The NIR, along with the Common Reporting Format (CRF) tables, comprise Canada’s inventory submission to the UNFCCC and are prepared in accordance with the UNFCCC Reporting Guidelines on annual inventories, Decision 24/CP.19.

Greenhouse gas emission data are available on the departmental data catalogue as well as

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 2016, the 2014 facility-reported data and related overview report were made publicly available as part of a broader departmental release of GHG information products. The published data included total emissions, by gas, for each facility that reported to the program. Environment and Climate Change Canada also received 2015 GHG emissions information from 563 facilities. The facility-reported data is available through Canada’s open data portal.

In December 2016, a Notice was published in Canada Gazette, part I requiring the reporting of GHG emissions for the 2016 calendar year. ECCC also announced proposed changes to the reporting requirements (starting with 2017 data), including:

  • Lowering the reporting threshold from 50 kilotonnes (kt) to 10 kt. All facilities that emit the equivalent of 10 kt or more of GHGs in carbon dioxide equivalent units (CO2 eq) per year will be required to submit a report.
  • Requiring facilities to provide additional data and apply specific quantification methods to determine emissions. These new requirements will be gradually phased in.
  • Identifying sectors and activities for the first phase of the expansion (2017 reported data): manufacturers of cement, lime, iron & steel and aluminum, as well as carbon capture, transport and geological storage.

ECCC’s single window reporting system

Initially implemented to reduce burden on industry and support the shared interest across jurisdictions of tracking and reporting progress on the reduction of GHG emissions and certain pollutant releases, ECCC’s single window reporting system continues to expand to support electronic reporting to additional regulations under CEPA. In 2016–2017, streamlined electronic reporting was made available for the Products Containing Mercury Regulations, Environmental Effects Monitoring Program and Multi-Sector Air Pollutants Regulations.

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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