Canadian Environmental Protection Act annual report 2018 to 2019: chapter 1

1. Introduction

This annual report provides an overview of the activities conducted and results achieved under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) from April 1, 2018, to March 31, 2019. It responds to the statutory requirement in section 342 of the act to provide annual reports to Parliament on the administration and enforcement of the act.

CEPA provides authority for the Government of Canada to take action on a wide range of environmental and human health risks - from chemicals to pollution to wastes. For the most part, it functions as an enabling statute, providing a suite of instruments and measures for identifying, assessing and addressing risks.

The general steps followed to address each risk can be organized into a management cycle (see figure 1): information is collected to understand risks and inform decisions; risks are assessed to determine if action is required; risk management instruments are put in place to reduce or eliminate risks to the environment and human health; these instruments may require compliance promotion and enforcement; and information is once again collected to monitor progress and determine if additional action is required. At each stage in the cycle, stakeholders are engaged, the public has the opportunity to be involved, the government works closely with provincial, territorial and Indigenous counterparts, and information is reported to the public.

Figure 1. The CEPA management cycle

Figure 1. The CEPA management cycle
Long description for figure 1

This diagram shows the steps of the CEPA management cycle:

  • risk assessment
  • risk management for toxics, air pollution and greenhouse gases, water quality, and waste
  • compliance promotion and enforcement
  • information gathering, research and monitoring
  • reporting, stakeholder engagement, public rights and inter-jurisdictional relationships

This report provides information on all stages of the management cycle. Section 2 - “Addressing key risks of toxic substances” covers information gathering, monitoring, risk assessment, and risk management for toxics, air pollution and greenhouse gases, water quality, and waste. Section 3 - “Reporting programs and emission inventories” covers information on releases of pollutants and greenhouse gases. Section 4 - “Administration and public participation” covers stakeholder engagement and inter-jurisdictional relationships. The report also includes section 5 - “Compliance promotion and enforcement” and section 6 - “Report of research”.

This report includes the following mandatory information:

The online CEPA Registry is a comprehensive source of information about activities taking place under the act, including proposed and existing policies, guidelines, codes of practice, government notices and orders, agreements, permits, and regulations.

1.1 Review of the act

In 2017, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development completed its parliamentary review of CEPA and tabled a report, entitled “Healthy Environment, Healthy Canadians, Healthy Economy: Strengthening the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999” to the House of Commons. In its October 2017 response to the committee, the government committed to return with a follow-up report by June 2018 on actions taken and to be taken in response to the committee's recommendations.

On June 29, 2018, the government submitted a follow-up report to the committee, outlining the government’s commitments to continue to strengthen protection of the environment and health of Canadians through policy and program improvements, future law reform, and continued engagement on key issues. This included a commitment to continue working with stakeholders through the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) Post-2020 process to seek further input on the important chemicals management issues highlighted by the committee.

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