Canadian Environmental Protection Act review

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) is an important tool in Canada for the protection of the environment. Section 343 of CEPA 1999 provides for a parliamentary review of the administration of the Act every five years after the coming into force of the act. The CEPA review page is a source of public information about activities related to parliamentary reviews of the act.

Current parliamentary review of CEPA

On March 8, 2016 the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development initiated a study of certain aspects of CEPA.

On March 22, 2016, the House of Commons passed a motion designating the Committee to undertake a comprehensive review of the provisions and operation of CEPA, as required by section 343 of the act. The Committee is required to submit a report to Parliament upon completion of its review.

On May 16, 2016, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change provided the Committee with a discussion paper for consideration, outlining the issues with CEPA that she believes it is important to address in order to strengthen existing programs and help respond to emerging issues.

On October 24, 2016, the Committee issued a news release inviting interested groups and individuals to submit a written brief on any matter related to CEPA, for the Committee’s consideration. The Committee requested that briefs be submitted by December 1, 2016.

On June 15, 2017, the Committee submitted its report, “Healthy Environment, Healthy Canadians, Healthy Economy: Strengthening the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999”, to the House of Commons. Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the Committee requested that the government table a response to its report. The government tabled its response on October 6, 2017 and committed to return with a follow-up report by June 2018 on actions taken and to be taken in response to the Committee's proposals.

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.  

For more details about the Committee or the 2016 parliamentary review of CEPA 1999, please visit the Committee website.

Previous reviews of CEPA

On March 31, 2005, CEPA stood referred for parliamentary review for the first time. In preparation, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) (then Environment Canada) and Health Canada (HC) undertook a number of activities:

  • Departmental officials prepared a scoping paper identifying the issues that could benefit from public input.
  • ECCC and HC conducted web-based consultations as well as public workshops in six cities across Canada in early 2005 to hear the public's views on the issues set out in the scoping paper. Officials produced a summary of what was heard over the course of these workshops and a summary of feedback from the web-based consultations.
  • Independent evaluations of the implementation of the act were commissioned by ECCC and HC. ECCC's evaluation is available online.

In April 2006, committees in the House of Commons and the Senate were designated to review CEPA pursuant to section 343 of the act:

Departmental officials prepared an Issues Paper to support the deliberations of both committees.

In May 2007, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development presented its report, “The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 - Five-Year Review: Closing the Gaps”, to the House of Commons.

The Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources extended its review timeline three times before presenting its report, “The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (1999, c. 33) Rx: Strengthen and Apply Diligently” on March 4, 2008.

The government tabled its interim response to the House of Commons report on October 17, 2007.

Parliament was dissolved due to the 2008 general election, before the government could table its final response to either report.

Parliament did not establish or designate a committee to conduct a review in 2010 or 2015.

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