Regulatory review of the Notification Regulations for environmental emergencies

Context

Federal departments and agencies must undertake a regular review of their existing regulations, including technical guidance and other associated policies, to ensure that the regulations continue to be appropriate and effective and reach their intended policy objectives. During the review, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) considers the impacts and burden of regulations on impacted stakeholders. As per the Stock Review Plan, ECCC has committed to complete a regulatory review of the Release and Environmental Emergency Notification Regulations and the Deposit Out of the Normal Course of Events Notification Regulations (collectively referred to as the Notification Regulations). Consultation with stakeholders is part of the review process.

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) and the Fisheries Act require that an authority prescribed in the legislation or regulations be notified immediately of any unauthorized release or deposit of substances that are prohibited by the Acts. An enforcement officer may be notified under CEPA, and an inspector, a fishery officer, or a fishery guardian may be notified under the Fisheries Act.  Under these legislations, the polluter and property owners affected by the pollution incident are responsible for fulfilling the notification requirements. However, under CEPA, any person may report the pollution incident. Timely reporting allows responders to quickly assess and respond to an emergency, reducing environmental impacts.

The Release and Environmental Emergency Notification Regulations under the CEPA and the Deposit Out of the Normal Course of Events Regulations set under the Fisheries Act, designate respectively, the persons who can receive notifications of events, in addition to those set in legislation. The persons included in the regulations have the capacity to provide 24-hour emergency telephone service for the designated response office, run by the federal, provincial or territorial government. 

In Canada, provincial and territorial legislation and regulations also have their own incident reporting requirements. By designating persons in the Notification Regulations, the Regulations support a coordinated, one-window approach for polluters and the public within participating provinces or territories by streamlining and reducing duplicative reporting procedures. These Notification Regulations are also reinforced by formal Notification Agreements with those jurisdictions, to ensure that the federal government receives the notification information needed to effectively administer their legislative authorities.

ECCC has identified a number of key issues and changes that should be considered as a part of this review, to form recommendations for future amendments to the Notification Regulations. We welcome your input and comments to validate these observations, and to identify any new issues to be addressed, as well as any opportunities for enhancements of the Regulations.

Key issues

ECCC identified a few key areas to be addressed by future amendments to the Notification Regulations:

Input requested from stakeholders

Please share your comments by October 15, 2022 to: Politiquehorizontale-HorizontalPolicy@ec.gc.ca

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