Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
Annual Report to Parliament for April 2019 to March 2020: chapter 1

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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, 2019, to March 31, 2020 by both Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and Health Canada (HC). 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 constitute a management cycle (see figure 1). At each stage of the cycle, stakeholders are engaged, the public has an opportunity to be involved and exercise their procedural rights, and the government works closely with domestic and international jurisdictions and agencies.

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. The 5 boxes arranged in a circle and connected by clockwise arrows represent:

  • research and monitoring
  • risk assessment
  • risk management
  • compliance promotion and enforcement
  • information gathering and reporting

This report provides information on all stages of the management cycle. Section 2, “Monitoring the environment and human health”, covers monitoring and surveillance activities that allow experts to determine levels and trends of chemicals, air pollutants and waste disposal affecting the environment and human health. Section 3, “Addressing key risks”, covers information gathering, research and monitoring, risk assessment, and risk management for toxics, air pollution and greenhouse gases, water quality, and waste. Section 4, “Reporting programs and emission inventories”, covers information on releases of pollutants and greenhouse gases. Section 5, “Administration and public participation”, covers stakeholder engagement and inter-jurisdictional relationships. The report also includes Section 6, “Compliance promotion and enforcement” and Section 7, “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 2019-2020, work continued in both ECCC and HC in response to the 2017 report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development entitled “Healthy Environment, Healthy Canadians, Healthy Economy: Strengthening the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999” following its review of CEPA. ECCC and HC continued to move forward on commitments made in the government’s June 2018 follow-up report to the Committee to strengthen protection of the environment and health of Canadians through policy and program improvements and future law reform. They also continued engagement on key issues, such as renewal of the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) Post-2020 and the environmental protection gap on First Nations reserve lands.

These efforts were consistent with the mandate given to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change by the Prime Minister in December 2019 to work with the Minister of Health to better protect people and the environment from toxic substances and other pollution through various means, including strengthening CEPA.

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