Canadian Environmental Protection Act annual report 2017 to 2018: chapter 3
3 Administration, public participation and reporting
3.1 Federal, provincial, territorial cooperation
National Advisory Committee
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.
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 2017–2018, the CEPA NAC held a teleconference meeting in June, 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 28 draft screening assessments which included 316 substances, 3 groups of substances, and 1 living organism
- the publication of 17 final screening assessments which included 26 substances, 5 groups of substances, and 9 living organisms
- 6 proposed orders to add 6 substances or groups of substances to Schedule 1, the List of Toxic Substances; and
- 2 final orders which added fuel oil no. 2, and natural gas condensates (NGCS) to Schedule 1
Members were also informed of numerous risk management activities, including:
- publication of the Environmental Violations Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations
- publication of Regulations Amending the Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulations, 2012
- publication of Microbeads in Toiletries Regulations
- a code of practice for the management of PM2.5 emissions in the potash sector; and
- a pollution prevention plan notice for air emissions from the iron, steel and ilmenite sector
In addition, members were also provided with an opportunity to comment on:
- proposed regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions from natural gas-fired generation of electricity
- proposed amendments to the Reduction of Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Coal-fired Generation of Electricity Regulations
- a proposed notice requiring the preparation of a pollution prevention plan for toluene diisocyanates
- a consultation document on the development of a proposed pollution prevention plan notice for triclosan
- information on the Government of Canada’s multi-stakeholder workshop on regulations respecting formaldehyde in composite wood products
- ratification of the protocol to abate acidification, eutrophication and ground-level ozone under the convention on long-range transboundary air pollution
- the development of a national strategy for the safe and environmentally sound disposal of lamps containing mercury
- a notice of intent to vary the requirements under the significant new activity provisions for 2-(2-methoxyethoxy)ethanol (DEGME) under the Chemicals Management Plan; and
- a consultation document on the proposed amendments of the Products Containing Mercury Regulations
Members were provided with an offer to consult on:
- a proposed code of practice for the environmentally sound management of end-of-life lamps containing mercury
- Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS) for nitrogen dioxide
- a proposed administrative amendments to the Regulations Prescribing Circumstances for Granting Waivers Pursuant to Section 147 of the Act
Members were provided an opportunity to advise on proposed regulatory initiatives related to:
- a consultation document describing the proposed regulatory approach to prohibit asbestos and products containing asbestos
- proposed Prohibition of Asbestos and Asbestos Products Regulations
- the proposed related amendments to the Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations
- proposed Regulations Respecting Reduction in the Release of Methane and Certain Volatile Organic Compounds (Upstream Oil and Gas Sector)
- proposed Regulations Respecting Reduction in the Release of Volatile Organic Compounds (Petroleum Sector); and
- proposed amendments to the Chromium Electroplating, Chromium Anodizing and Reverse Etching Regulations
- performance agreements with three metal processing sectors
- guidelines for the reduction of nitrogen oxide emissions from natural gas–fuelled stationary combustion turbines for the risk management of nitrogen oxide
- information gathering under section 71
- the final Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS) for sulphur dioxide
- a notice for the National Pollutant Release Inventory for 2018 and 2019; and
- a publication of reviewed 2016 National Pollutant Release Inventory data
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 2017-18, in partnership with Indigenous Peoples and Great Lakes stakeholders, the Governments of Canada and Ontario finalized the Canada-Ontario Lake Erie Action Plan with the goal of reducing annual phosphorus loading into Lake Erie by 40% from a 2008 baseline. Canada also provided funding support in 2017-18 through the Great Lakes Protection Initiative for three projects targeting chemicals of concern.
Memorandum of Understanding between Canada and Quebec
The Province of Quebec and the Government of Canada have been collaborating since 1994. The parties currently co-operate through a memorandum of understanding for data collection, effective until March 2018, whereby Quebec provides 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; and
- 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 2017 and March 2018.
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]; and
- Secondary Lead Smelter Release Regulations (all sections).
Alberta Environment indicated that, in 2017-2018, 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, which are in effect until March 2021.
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 2017-18, ECCC continued to work with its 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.
3.2 Public participation
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 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 2017 to March 2018, 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 1000 public enquiries made concerning CEPA in the last fiscal year. Areas of enquiry included: substances, regulations (e.g. engine emissions, fuels, dry cleaning, import and export of hazardous waste, storage tank systems), permits and enforcement.
CEPA includes many requirements to provide the public with access to information, to provide comments on proposed initiatives and to provide access to justice. These provisions include a mandatory consultation and public comment periods for orders, regulations and other statutory instruments; requirements to publish information and maintain a CEPA registry. Other provisions allow for a member of the public to bring civil actions against alleged offenders, to request reviews of existing laws and policies, as well as providing protection for whistle-blowers.
In addition, engaging stakeholders and the public is central to several programs under CEPA. For example, at each stage in the CMP management cycle stakeholders are engaged and the public has the opportunity to be involved and comment on proposed assessments of substances or groups of substances.
During 2017–2018, there were 69 opportunities posted on the Registry for stakeholders and the members of the public to provide comments on proposed initiatives to be taken under CEPA. These included:
- 27 draft assessments of substances or groups of substances
- 6 substances or groups of substances proposed for addition to the List of Toxic Substances
- 7 proposed regulations, and
- 4 consultation documents on proposed risk management initiatives
Please see CEPA Registry public consultations, available online.
CMP-related committees and activities
The CMP Science Committee supports a strong science foundation to CMP by providing external national and international scientific expertise to Health Canada and ECCC on scientific issues. The CMP Science Committee started its second term in the fall of 2017. The first meeting of the new term was held in January 2018 on the topic of “Informed Substitution.” Members engaged in constructive discussions as they continued developing the Committee’s scientific input for the Government of Canada. Meeting records and reports are available online.
The CMP Stakeholder Advisory Council (CMP SAC) met twice in 2017–2018. 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 May and November 2017, the government hosted a multi-stakeholder workshop to engage and receive input from stakeholders on issues important to chemicals management in Canada beyond 2020.
CMP Progress Reports were published in July and December 2017. The CMP Progress Report provided jointly by ECCC and HC ensures stakeholders and other interested parties are kept up to date on the activities and programs related to the CMP.
Targeted stakeholder awareness activities undertaken in 2017–2018 included the continuation of the webinar series with non-industry health and environment stakeholders with a session on human biomonitoring programs under the Chemicals Management Plan. Given the role the public plays in reducing the risk of chemicals to their health, partnerships are developed, including those with youth organisations to expand the reach of our messaging. Also information is provided through a variety of multi-media platforms and by distilling scientific information into plain language for the public. Additionally, the regional offices actively reached Canadians by educating and enabling key influencers through workshops, trade shows and other activities.
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 2017–2018 included a number of teleconferences and paper-based consultations, and one in-person meeting in February 2018. Consultations focused on proposed changes to the program requirements for 2018 reporting, including for the oil and gas extraction and electricity generating sectors and certain substances such as volatile organic compounds and chlorinated alkanes.
In addition to the above-mentioned consultations, the NPRI program shares information and gathers ideas from stakeholders and the public. Activities include engaging users of NPRI data to get input on how to meet their needs such as through an in-person data users’ workshop in February 2018; working collaboratively with other government programs and international organizations; and updating stakeholders regularly on the NPRI.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Program consultation
ECCC expanded its facility Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Program (GHGRP), by implementing significant changes to the reporting requirements in 2017, lowering the reporting threshold from 50 000 tonnes to 10 000 tonnes CO2 equivalent and requiring all facilities engaged in carbon capture, transport and geological storage to report. Phase I of the expansion, implemented in the collection of data for the year 2017 further expanded the reporting and methodological requirements for all facilities engaged in the production of cement, aluminum, iron & steel, lime and in carbon capture and storage. Phase II will similarly apply more stringent requirements for the reporting of 2018 data by facilities engaged in electricity generation, petroleum refining, pulp and paper manufacturing, mining, base metal smelting/refining. Consultations with stakeholders (provincial and territorial governments, industry) occur in each phase of the expansion.
Information about the GHGRP consultations will be posted online.
The Pollution prevention resource finder
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.
In fall 2017, the Canadian Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse (CPPIC) was redesigned and rebranded the Pollution Prevention resource finder (P2 finder). The P2 finder is Canada’s largest publicly accessible database of links to practical resources that can help individuals and organizations be more environmentally friendly. It is searchable and filterable to allow users to easily search for specific types of resources. The P2 finder contains links to resources for:
- employees or volunteers
- homeowners or renters
- youths or educators
- businesses (including non-profit organizations)
- community groups
- health care facilities
State of the environment reporting
The Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) program reports on key environmental sustainability issues including, climate change and air quality, water quality and availability, wildlife, biodiversity, habitat, pollution, waste and toxic substances. It is designed to convey the state of Canada’s environment, including historical trends, in a straightforward and transparent manner. CESI is used to inform citizens, Parliamentarians, policy makers and researchers with comprehensive, unbiased and authoritative environmental information. The CESI program responds to Environment and Climate Change Canada's commitments under CEPA and the Department of the Environment Act to report to Canadians on the state of the environment and is the prime instrument to measure progress of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.
The indicators are prepared by ECCC through close collaboration with science and data experts across the federal government, including Health Canada, Statistics Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans, as well as relevant provincial and territorial counterparts. The 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.
In August 2017, the indicator on air pollutant emissions was updated. The indicators report emissions released through human activities for six key air pollutants: sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter. For each pollutant, indicators are provided at the national and regional level, and by source. Facility-level emissions are also provided through an interactive map (Figure 13). The indicator shows that:
- in 2015, emissions of five key air pollutants: SOX, NOX, VOCs, CO and PM2.5 were 18% to 66% lower than in 1990, while emission levels of NH3 were 22% higher than in 1990, and
- Quebec, Ontario and Alberta accounted for more than 55% of Canada's total emissions of the six key air pollutants in 2015
Figure 13. Air pollutant emissions, Canada, 1990 to 2016
Data table for figure 13's long description
(percentage change from 1990 level)
(percentage change from 1990 level)
|Volatile organic compounds
(percentage change from 1990 level)
(percentage change from 1990 level)
(percentage change from 1990 level)
|Fine particulate matter
(percentage change from 1990 level)
In October 2017, the emissions of harmful substances to air and the releases of harmful substances to water indicators were published. These indicators track human-related emissions and releases of mercury, lead and cadmium. Air emissions are provided at the national and regional (provincial and territorial) level and by source for each substance. Facility and global emissions to air are also provided for mercury. The air indicators show that:
- lead, mercury and cadmium emissions were about 90% lower in 2015 than in 1990
- decreases in emissions came mostly from large reductions in non-ferrous smelting and the mining industry
Releases to water are provided at the national and regional (provincial and territorial) level, by source and at facility level for each substances. The water indicators show that:
- releases of cadmium, lead and mercury to water were 55%, 61% and 70% lower in 2015 than in 2003, and
- one significant spill in 2014 made up 59%, 92% and 92% of total releases of cadmium, lead and mercury, respectively
In January 2018, the indicator for greenhouse gas emissions from large facilities was published. This indicator provides consistent information on emissions from the largest emitting facilities in Canada in 2016 (Figure 14). The indicator shows that:
- 263 megatonnes (Mt) of GHGs in carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 eq) were emitted by 596 facilities reporting to the GHG Reporting Program, and
- emissions from the reporting facilities account for over one third (37%) of Canada's total GHG emissions in 2016
Figure 14. Greenhouse gas emissions from large facilities
Long description for figure 14
The map of Canada displays the 2016 greenhouse gas emissions from 596 facilities across Canada (excluding pipeline transportation systems). Facilities are represented as colour-coded dots according to 6 classes of emissions ranging from below 50 to over 2 000 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.
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. CESI also has an interactive map that enables the user to quickly explore Canada's local and regional environmental indicators.
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).
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.
NPRI data for the 2016 reporting year was published in preliminary form in July 2017 and in reviewed form in December 2017. Over 7000 facilities, located in every province and territory, reported to the NPRI for the 2016 reporting year (Figure 15).
Figure 15. Location of facilities that reported to the NPRI for the 2016 reporting year
Note: This map shows NPRI reporting facilities for 2016 (7,087 facilities), excluding those that did not meet the reporting criteria (944 facilities).
Long description for figure 15
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.
During 2017–2018, 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 (see section 3.2). NPRI requirements for the 2018 and 2019 reporting years were published in the Canada Gazette in January 2018, and included a number of changes to improve the information available to data users. ECCC also continued to improve the accessibility of datasets to facilitate analysis by data users with the publication of 2016 data.
Pollution prevention data submitted to the NPRI is analyzed and outlined in the NPRI annual highlights. 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.
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.
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.
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 transportation and mobile equipment and residential wood burning.
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.
Further information on the GHG 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 support the National GHG Inventory. The data collected are also shared with provinces and territories.
In December 2017, a notice was published in Canada Gazette, Part I requiring the reporting of GHG emissions for the 2017 calendar year. As part of the program expansion, the Notice included the following changes from previous years:
- Lowering the reporting threshold from 50 kilotonnes (kt) to 10 kt of CO2 equivalent units (CO2 eq). All facilities meeting or exceeding the threshold are now required to submit a report.
- Under phase 1 of the expansion, implementing enhanced reporting and methodological requirements for all facilities engaged in the manufacturing of cement, lime, iron & steel and aluminum, as well as carbon capture, transport and geological storage.
In January 2018, the 2016 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. ECCC received GHG emissions information for 2017 from 1469 facilities.
Further information on the GHGRP is available online.
ECCC’s Single Window reporting system
ECCC’s Single Window Reporting System was 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. This reporting system continues to expand to support electronic reporting to additional Regulations under CEPA. In 2017–2018, streamlined electronic reporting was made available for Parts 1 and 2 of the 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. 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 administered by ECCC or involving ECCC enforcement officers (including CEPA).
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