Canadian Environmental Protection Act annual report 2018 to 2019: chapter 4

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4. Administration and public participation

4.1 Federal, provincial, territorial cooperation

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 was provided opportunities to advise and comment on initiatives under the act.

To carry out its duties in 2018-2019, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) NAC held a teleconference in October, 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 Chemicals Management Plan (CMP), including:

Members were also informed of numerous risk management activities. This included:

In addition, members were also provided with an opportunity to comment on:

Members were provided with an offer to consult on:

Members were provided an opportunity to advise on proposed regulatory initiatives related to:

Members were also informed of:

Federal-provincial/territorial agreements

Part 1 of the act 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 jurisdiction 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 Quality and Ecosystem Health

Since 1971, Canada and Ontario have worked together through a series of Canada-Ontario agreements to protect Great Lakes water quality. The 2014 Canaidan-Ontario Agreement (COA) guides the efforts of Canada and Ontario to restore, protect and conserve Great Lakes water quality and ecosystem health to assist in achieving the vision of a healthy, 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 2018-2019, progress to clean up Canadian Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOC) continued. Through the Great Lakes Protection Initiative, Canada provided funding to support action at the local level for planning, developing and implementing remedial and monitoring actions to restore beneficial uses in several AOCs. In 2018-2019, ten beneficial uses were re-designated to “Not Impaired”, bringing the total number of restored beneficial uses across all Canadian AOCs to 78. Efforts continue to address the remaining 79 of the 157 beneficial uses initially identified as impaired or requiring further assessment.

In 2018-2019, at Randle Reef in the Hamilton Harbour Area of Concern, Canada and partners completed construction of a 6 hectare, double-walled “box” (engineered containment facility) that will house severely contaminated sediments from the harbour floor. Containing approximately 695 000 cubic metres of sediment contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and other toxic chemicals, Randle Reef is the largest and most severely contaminated sediment site on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is collaborating with Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, Stelco Canada, Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority, City of Hamilton, City of Burlington, and Halton Region to restore this area.

Canada undertook numerous scientific activities in 2018-2019 in partnership with the Governments of Ontario and the United States in support of managing phosphorus concentrations and loadings to Lake Erie. Implementation of the Canada-Ontario Lake Erie Action Plan began with the goal of reducing annual phosphorus loading into Lake Erie by 40% from a 2008 baseline to achieve the binational (Canada-US) phosphorus targets. The first annual report on phosphorus loadings and algal conditions in Lake Erie was issued.

Canada also undertook numerous scientific activities in 2018-2019 in partnership with the Governments of Ontario and the United States in support of reducing toxic substances in the Great Lakes:

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, whereby Quebec provides a single data-entry portal for regulatees for the following federal regulations:

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.

On March 30, 2019, a draft renewed equivalency agreement with the province of Nova Scotia on the Reduction of Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Coal-fired Generation of Electricity Regulations was published, with a Notice of availability in the Canada Gazette, Part I. This agreement would cover the period of January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2024.

Canada-Saskatchewan Equivalency Agreement

On December 29, 2018, a draft equivalency agreement with the province of Saskatchewan on the Reduction of Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Coal-fired Generation of Electricity Regulations was published, with a Notice of Availability in the Canada Gazette, Part I. This agreement would cover the period January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2024. Further to this draft agreement, a proposed Order suspending the application of the federal regulation in Saskatchewan was published on February 16, 2019.

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 2018-2019, there were no reported violations by the 4 pulp and paper mills regulated under the provincial pulp and paper regulations.

Canada-British Columbia Equivalency Agreement

In March 2019, a draft equivalency agreement with the province of British Columbia on the release of methane from the oil and gas sector was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for public consultation.

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, Northwest Territories and Yukon, which are in effect until March 2021.

4.2 Public participation

CEPA 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 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 2018 to March 2019, the CEPA Registry website had 289 701 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 (for example, engine emissions, fuels, dry cleaning, import and export of hazardous waste, storage tank systems), permits and enforcement.

Public consultation

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 proposed orders, regulations and other statutory instruments; and requirements to publish information. 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 Chemicals Management Plan (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 2018-2019, there were 57 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:

Please see the CEPA Registry public consultations, available online.

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 received more than 10 000 views in 2018-2019. It is searchable and filterable to allow users to easily search for specific types of resources. The P2 finder contains links to resources for:

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 second meeting of the CMP Science Committee took place in July 2018 on the topic of “Advancing Consideration of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals under CEPA”. The third meeting was held in November 2018 on “Public Health Approach to Chemicals Management in Canada.” 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 2018-2019. The purpose of CMP SAC is to obtain advice from stakeholders for implementing the CMP and to foster dialogue between stakeholders and government, and among different stakeholder groups. In May and November 2018, the government hosted multi-stakeholder workshops to exchange information and gather input from stakeholders on managing chemicals in Canada. During the May 2018 SAC meeting, views were sought on improving and communicating a strategy for Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs). Representatives of vulnerable groups also shared their perspectives to determine views on strengthening the approach for vulnerable populations under the CMP.

Health Canada and ECCC jointly prepare CMP Progress Reports to update stakeholders and other interested parties on CMP activities and programs. CMP Progress Reports were published in July 2018 and March 2019.

The public plays a major role in reducing health risks posed by chemicals. Launched in January 2019, the goal of the new Health Canada Healthy Home campaign is to raise Canadian’s awareness about health risks from chemicals of concern and pollutants that may be found in and around the home and motivate them to take action to protect health. The new campaign delivers CMP findings and practical advice to Canadians regarding pollutants and chemicals, such as mould, carbon monoxide, radon, asbestos, and formaldehyde. It is promoted to Canadians through new web content, social media, search engine marketing and face to face engagement at events. The campaign links to plain language summaries for the public on specific CMP substances (such as, furans, solvent violet 13, and talc) that are promoted through social media (Facebook and Twitter). National-media outreach, including articles and radio clips on priority substances reached 40M impressions.

The Health Canada regional offices deliver CMP and environmental health outreach to Canadians by educating and enabling key influencers such as those who work with vulnerable populations (that is, daycare workers, nurses, seniors, Indigenous groups, and health practitioners). This was accomplished through adaptation and delivery of the Chemicals Learning and Awareness modules at workshops, and presenting CMP and environmental health materials during trade shows and conferences. Public outreach materials and workshop products were also developed for immigrant communities including Chinese, South Asian, and Arabic Canadians.

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