Environmental Damages Fund - Applicant Guide

This guide includes general Environmental Damages Fund (EDF) program information, specific information on how to complete an application for EDF funding, and instructions on how to apply using the online Grants and Contributions Enterprise Management System (GCEMS).

Please contact the EDF office in your region to discuss project ideas and learn more about available funds in your area.

What is the Environmental Damages Fund?

The EDF is a specified purpose account administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), on behalf of the Government of Canada, to direct funds received from fines, court orders and voluntary payments to priority projects that will benefit Canada’s natural environment. Through its support of priority projects, the EDF helps to ensure environmental good follows environmental harm. ECCC collaborates with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Parks Canada, and Transport Canada to deliver the program. Federal departments are responsible for the enforcement of legislation that may be used to direct funds to the EDF such as, the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999, the Migratory Birds Convention Act 1994, and the Canada Shipping Act 2001.

The primary goal of EDF-funded projects is to restore the environment and conserve wildlife and habitats in a scientifically sound, cost-effective, and technically feasible way.

Who can apply?

Eligible groups are not-for-profit and may include:

Individuals, businesses, and federal government departments and agencies are not eligible applicants but may partner with eligible applicants. Offenders that have been fined or made monetary payments directed to the EDF are not eligible to apply OR to partner with eligible groups for fines or monetary payments they have made that were directed to the EDF. International entities are not eligible to receive funding, but they may partner with or support a project. Projects must take place within Canada and/or the benefits of the project activities must accrue to Canadians.

Applicants must provide an identification number for their organization in their proposal, such as a Charitable Number, Non-Profit Organization Registration Number or First Nations Band Number.

What projects may be funded?

EDF funding is available for projects that address one or more of the program’s priority areas. These are referred to as funding categories.

Project proposals submitted must be consistent with the EDF goals of environmental damage restoration, environmental conservation and related education and awareness. Accordingly, projects should fall into one of four EDF funding categories:


Environmental Quality Improvement

Research and Development

Education and Awareness

All project applications must clearly show how they satisfy Fund Use Requirements,  which are listed with each available funding amount (EDF available funds page). Projects that do not clearly show that they satisfy all aspects of the applicable Fund Use Requirements will not be eligible for funding. For examples of funded projects, see our EDF project map.

EDF calls for proposals are competitive processes; please clearly explain all project details and expected results. The level of detail provided in your application must support the complexity of your project.

A strong EDF proposal:

What projects and activities will not be funded?

The following types of projects and activities are not eligible to receive funding from the EDF:

Please note that this is not a comprehensive list. If you are unsure about any of the examples listed above or the eligibility of your project and activities, please contact the EDF office in your region.

What funding is available?

Available funding varies according to the number of court awards and voluntary contributions directed to the EDF. In its sentencing decision, the court may recommend specific recipient, location, and types and scope of projects to be funded by a fine. This information is considered in the assessment of fines and in the preparation of Funds Use Requirements.

To determine if funds are available in your geographic region, visit the EDF available funds page, or the online application portal (GCEMS), or contact the EDF office in your region. To receive an email notification when new EDF funding is available, please ask the EDF office in your region to add you to the distribution list.

EDF funding is available to cover up to 100% of eligible project costs. The EDF does not require matching funds; however, evidence of other project funding sources (i.e. additional contributions) or demonstration of your organization’s ability to raise funds from sources other than the federal government (i.e. in a past project) will be considered an asset at the proposal evaluation stage. Evidence of matching funds can include signed/dated letters of cash and/or in-kind support, as well as confirmation through email messages. It is recommended that matching contribution values are indicated in these letters. Applicants can demonstrate their ability to raise non-federal funds by providing reliable evidence from past projects (i.e. letters, budget summaries).

What is the maximum duration of an EDF project?

There is no maximum EDF project duration; however the average EDF project typically does not exceed five years.

When is the application deadline?

The deadline for submitting a funding application using the Grants and Contributions Enterprise Management System (GCEMS) portal is 3:00 Eastern Standard Time, on the date indicated on the available funds page and in GCEMS.

How do you apply?

Step 1: Confirm available funds and project eligibility

Review funding opportunities and Log into GCEMS to confirm funds availability in your project’s location. Review Fund Use Requirements associated with each available fund and ensure your project’s activities satisfy all of those requirements and that proposed project activities are eligible EDF expenditures. For questions or clarification, please contact an EDF office in your region.

Should you be unable to submit your application using this platform, please contact the EDF office in your region. For any technical issues related to website functionality and access (e.g. GCKey and SWIM), GCEMS technical support can be reached at sgesc-gcems-sgesc-gcems@ec.gc.ca.

Step 2: Prepare your funding application using GCEMS

Develop your EDF funding proposal using the GCEMS online portal and visit the GCEMS application instructions page for technical assistance documents, tutorials, and support throughout your application preparation. As the website will automatically log applicants out after 15 minutes of inactivity, you are strongly advised to save your draft proposal in GCEMS frequently or to copy and paste content from an external document to avoid losing your work.

If desired, contact the EDF office in your region prior to the application deadline to discuss your project application with an EDF Program Officer. Officers can also help provide advice/information on:

Step 3: Submit your application

You must submit your application in GCEMS before the stated deadline. The EDF does not accept applications via email, mail or fax. Once you have submitted your proposal, you will receive an email from GCEMS acknowledging the receipt of your submission. Following the project review phase, you will receive notification on the funding decision of your proposal. If you do not receive confirmation, please contact sgesc-gcems-sgesc-gcems@ec.gc.ca.

If contacting ECCC about a proposal, please always reference the four-digit proposal ID number associated with the application.

Guide to completing an online application

The following information will enable you to complete an online project application for the EDF. Note that the EDF Applicant Guide is not a technical guide for navigating GCEMS, but rather provides EDF program-specific information to ensure project proposals meet the EDF program eligibility.

Sections 1 and 2

1. Tombstone data

Tombstone Data is a summary of organizational and contact information that auto-populates various sections of your GCEMS application. You must complete all fields:

2. Project summary

Project summary: This section provides an overview of your project. All information is mandatory.

Project title: It is recommended that you use a short title to identify your project.

Project start date/end date: When determining the proposed project start date, please allow for additional time following the funding application deadline. Project start dates should consider the proposal evaluation process, program funding decisions, and funding agreement negotiation with the EDF if your project is successful. Please contact the EDF office in your region should you require further details or clarification.

Project location: Provide project location, including information that links your project to any geographic priority regions or areas identified in the Fund Use Requirement. Latitude and longitude coordinates are mandatory. If your project has multiple activity sites or is national in scope, please note this in your application in the Project Description field and provide the coordinates for your organization’s head office or primary office location in Project Location.

Project goals/objectives: Clearly state the goal(s) and objective(s) of the project and how it will benefit the environment. Provide a clear description of specific and measurable (performance indicator) objectives that are achievable and realistic during the timeframe of the project.

Project description: Provide a summary description of your project, showing the link between the project, the stated goals, and the priority funding category. Identify the main purpose of your project by clearly articulating the environmental issue that the project will address and why it is important. Please provide baseline information about the environmental issue that the project will address. Include details on how the project will help resolve the issue, and how it is linked to project objectives and indicators.

Explain how the project links to the priorities of the EDF, and its connection to the Fund Use Requirements. It is important that your summary be concise and include the key (performance indicator) results you expect to achieve with your project.

Project team experience: Please describe any relevant qualifications and experience of the project team members that could demonstrate the organization's experience and capacity to carry out the proposed project. Please make clear connections on how the knowledge and experience of team members relate to the stated objectives in the project description.

Financial capacity: Please describe your organization's financial capacity to manage this project. This could include outlining other sources of funding for the project in the project budget, such as letters of support to indicate support from partnering organization(s) through in-kind support. Additionally, this could include a brief summary of past successful projects demonstrating your organization’s experience managing a project budget of similar size and scale.

Project management capacity: Please describe your organization's experience in managing and delivering projects. Provide details on the duties and responsibilities of the position(s) identified in the human resources section of the budget. Who will work on the project (project coordinator, volunteers, consultants, technical experts, etc.) and what are their roles/qualifications? Identify relevant qualifications and experiences of the project team. This section is an opportunity to demonstrate your organization’s experience and capacity to carry out the proposed project.

Section 3. EDF Funding Categories, indicators, environmental responsibility, and permits

Identify the primary EDF environmental funding category that the project will address by selecting one (1) funding category from the drop-down list. Use the details and project examples below to help determine under which EDF funding category your project fits best. Applicants are encouraged to select all EDF Performance Indicators that apply to the project; selecting at least (1) indicator is required. 

EDF funding categories (ranked from highest to lowest priority):

#1: Restoration projects

Restoration for damage caused to the environment, including:


#2: Environmental quality improvement projects

Environmental quality is improved in areas where damage to the environment or nuisance to wildlife occurred, including:


#3: Research and development projects

Knowledge related to cumulative impacts, long-term environmental damage or nuisance to wildlife is improved, including:


#4: Education and awareness projects

Awareness and knowledge of environmental damage restoration or compliance with environmental regulations is increased, including:


Other required information in section 3

EDF Available Funds: Please indicate specific EDF available funds (the total EDF cash funding) for which you are applying. Include the location, funding amounts, and the Fund Use Requirements. Information on the available funds and proposal deadline can be found on the EDF available funds page. The wording in your application should match exactly what is stated on the EDF available funds page.

Applicants may submit one funding application for one project that proposes to use multiple EDF available funds. The applicant must clearly articulate how the proposed project respects the Fund Use Requirements of all the available EDF funds for which they are applying.

Project Need: In 500 words or less, indicate why the project is needed within the local, regional and/or national context and how your project will deliver on the applicable EDF Fund Use Requirements. Please describe the environmental issue being targeted and how the project will help resolve the issue, ensuring that the issue is linked to project objectives, results, and indicators.

Project Purpose: Complete the provided sentence (“This Environmental Damages Fund project will …”) in 150 words or less to clearly and succinctly describe the purpose of your project. Your sentence should include the project location and a clear summary of key project goals.

Example: This Environmental Damages Fund project will improve fish habitat through riverbank restoration in the (name of region and/or watershed) by (list main activities here).

Environmental Responsibility: In this section, explain what measures will be undertaken to ensure the natural environment will not be negatively affected by project. Groups must conduct activities in a manner that does not harm the natural environment and must explain how the natural environment will benefit from the project.

We may request additional information for technical review and/or for an environmental assessment under the Impact Assessment Act, if applicable.

Permits and Authorizations: Explain the necessary permits and authorizations needed to carry out project activities. It is your responsibility to verify requirements and obtain any permits and/or approvals from other federal, provincial/territorial and/or municipal governments prior to commencing activities. Any potential required permits and authorizations for the project must be identified in this section.

Start by confirming the requirement for any permits and authorizations by selecting “Yes” or “No” in the drop-down menu. If you select “Yes,” list the permits and authorizations below and indicate whether they have been obtained. If not yet obtained, please ensure the timeline for obtaining approval is included in your project work plan. Activities undertaken on government or private land may also require a permit and/or approval. Successful applicants will be asked to supply authorization or permit copies to their regional EDF office.

Activities on Federal Lands: Indicate whether your project will involve Physical Activities (i.e., construction, modification, operation, expansion, abandonment and decommissioning) on Federal Lands in relation to a Physical Work (structures that are built by humans and have a defined area and fixed location).  If yes, please describe the proposed Physical Activities.

According to the Impact Assessment Act, "Federal Lands" are defined as:

  1. lands that belong to His Majesty in right of Canada, or that His Majesty in right of Canada has the power to dispose of, and all waters on and airspace above those lands, other than lands under the administration and control of the Commissioner of Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut;
  2. the following lands and areas:
    i. the internal waters of Canada, in any area of the sea not within a province,
    ii. the territorial sea of Canada, in any area of the sea not within a province,
    iii. the exclusive economic zone of Canada, and
    iv. the continental shelf of Canada.
  3. reserves, surrendered lands and any other lands that are set apart for the use and benefit of a band and that are subject to the Indian Act, and all waters on and airspace above those reserves or lands.

ECCC Priority Groups: Indicate which EDF Priority Group(s) the project engages and select all that apply. Note that the engagement of these groups is not a requirement; however engagement of priority groups may strengthen your proposal. The data collected may be used for proposal evaluation and reporting purposes. Program Priority Groups are defined as follows:

Project Communications Plan: Indicate the title of each planned communication activity along with a description, expected results, as well as the start and end date of the activity. The table in which to include all project activities is as per below.

Project communications plan
Title of communication activity Communication activity description Expected results Start date End date
Enter title of activity in 10 or fewer words (e.g. Community Volunteer Event Announcement). Enter description of the communication activity in approximately 100 to 250 words. Enter the expected results of the communication activity in approximately 100 to 250 words. Results may include the number of people reached. Enter date of when activity will be launched. Enter date of when activity will be completed and results are expected.

EDF performance indicators: Performance indicators are measurable results that demonstrate how your project objectives are met. Target values should represent outcomes for the entirety of the project.

Please ensure that your target project indicators are achievable within the timeframe of EDF funding. The EDF Performance Indicators are separated by the project funding category; however, an applicant should select all EDF Performance Indicators that apply to their project.  All projects must include at least one (1) EDF Performance Indicator as per the tables of performance indicators and must include a target value in the unit of measurement required by the program. For each indicator selected, please use the text box provided to describe the methodology used to estimate and/or calculate the indicator value. Project applications that do not contain at least one (1) indicator and this information will be ineligible.

Please refer to the following table to identify and learn about EDF performance indicators:

Indicator – restoration
Performance indicator Description Target Units
Number of hectares where restoration activities have been implemented Total area (in hectares) of natural environment where restoration of natural resources of similar ecological function to those affected has been implemented. Convert linear kilometres to area by capturing the depth of work and not just the shoreline. value # of hectares
Indicators – Environmental quality improvement
Performance indicator Description Target Units
Number of hectares where environmental quality activities have been implemented Total area (in hectares) of natural environment where the environmental quality of different natural resources than those affected is improved. Convert linear kilometres to area by capturing the depth of work and not just the shoreline. value # of hectares
Number of kilograms of toxic or harmful substances diverted or reduced

Measured by weight (in kilograms) of material sent to hazardous waste collection, items not used, and/or items properly disposed of. A substance is toxic if it is entering or may enter the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that:

  1. have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity;
  2. constitute or may constitute a danger to the environment on which life depends; or
  3. constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health.
value # of kilograms
Number of tonnes reduced of greenhouse gas emissions reduced Calculated per year in CO2 equivalent using the calculator for reporting emissions on the Government of Canada website. Includes: Carbon Dioxide (CO2); Methane (CH4); Nitrous Oxide (N2O); Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and Sulfur Hexafluoride (SF6). value # tonnes
Number of tonnes of emissions of air pollutants reduced

Calculated per year using the calculator for reporting emissions on the Government of Canada website.

Includes: Sulphur Oxides (SOx); Nitrogen Oxides (NOx); Particulate Matter (PM); Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC); Carbon Monoxide (CO); and, Ammonia (NH3).

value # tonnes
Indicators – research and development
Performance indicator Description Target Units

Number of methods, tools, and/or techniques developed to assess environmental damage

Total number of methods, tools, and/or techniques developed that can be used to assess environmental damage.


# methods/tools/techniques

Number of methods, tools, and/or techniques developed to restore environmental damage

Total number of methods, tools, and/or techniques developed that restore environmental damage.


# methods/tools/techniques

Number of methods, tools, and/or techniques applied to assess environmental damage

Total number of methods, tools, and/or techniques applied to assess environmental damage.


# methods/tools/techniques

Number of methods, tools, and/or techniques applied to restore environmental damage

Total number of methods, tools, and/or techniques applied to restore environmental damage.


# methods/tools/

Area of habitat where monitoring/assessments/studies have been undertaken

Total Area (in hectares) of natural environment where monitoring/assessments/studies have been undertaken. Convert linear kilometres to area by capturing the depth of work and not just the shoreline.


# hectares

Number of studies/reports/plans/ publications developed and distributed

Studies, reports, management plans or publications must be related to the development of methods or improved techniques for the assessment and measurement of environmental damage and the means to restore it.


# of Studies/ Reports/Plans/ Publications

Number of recommendations from studies, reports or management plans implemented

Studies, reports or management plans must relate to the use of methods or improved techniques for the assessment and measurement of environmental damage and means to restore it. Proponents must provide a copy of the study/report/plan and report on what is being implemented.


# of recommendations implemented

Number of partners engaged

Includes partnerships with various levels of government, individual researchers, non-profits, academia and industry to build capacity for restoration and improved environmental quality.


# partners

Indicators – education and awareness
Performance indicator Description Target Units
Percentage of target audience that confirmed modification in behaviour as a result of project activity(ies) Target audience’s awareness and understanding related to preventing or restoring environmental damage is increased as a result of project activities. Pre and post surveys or other acceptable measurement methodologies are included as part of the project. value % of target audience
Number of participants attending project activity(ies) Total number of individuals reached via project activities, including people attending the workshops, training sessions and other events organized. value # of people

Project Accessibility and Sustainability: Indicate how benefits to the environment and your community will be maintained after the project is completed. Additionally, provide any details on whether your organization has a knowledge transfer strategy for creating and disseminating knowledge from the project, where appropriate, to support sustainable behaviour changes.

If you selected “Yes” in the drop-down menu to indicate that there is a knowledge transfer component to your project, please provide additional details on how the knowledge is created and how it is disseminated to the impacted groups in your community.

Additionally, if you selected “Yes” in the drop-down menu to indicate that project materials will be produced in a language other than French or English, please indicate which language(s) they will be produced in (excluding English and French).

COVID-19 Considerations: Please provide a description of how project activities within the community will take precautions and adhere to your local health authority’s restrictions and guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, if applicable.

Outreach: Please indicate how you heard about this EDF call for proposals (e.g., email via the EDF distribution list, social media, Government of Canada website, colleague, or other). If selected “Other,” please specify.

If you would like to be added to the EDF distribution list for your region, please send a request to the appropriate regional inbox. Contact details can be found on the EDF webpage in the “Contact us” section.

Section 4. Project budget

This section will present the project's financial details. Please clearly state the total amount of EDF cash funding being requested for your project.

You will be asked to provide information on all project funders and identify a Contributor Type for each of them in the Project Budget Table (including your funding request from the EDF and your own organization’s contribution to the project). Please provide a “contributor name” in the text field. Other optional contributor types include any other ECCC support for your project, support from other federal government departments, provincial governments, municipal governments or others.

Cash funding requests from the EDF should be shown in the budget template under “ECCC” in the cash column.

Please note that you will not be able to proceed to the next section if the “Amount Requested” does not match what is stated in the project budget template. Prepare a budget using the budget tables provided in the online GCEMS application. Please consider the following elements:

What project costs are eligible?

Costs related to the following types of expenses are eligible under the EDF program:

Please note that this is not a comprehensive list. You can contact an EDF office in your region for any matter relating to this list or the eligibility of your project and activities.

Independently Verified Financial Audit

Should the application be successful, details regarding financial reporting requirements (including potential completion of an Independently Verified Financial Report at the end of the project) will be outlined during the negotiation of the funding agreement.

The costs related to an Independently Verified Financial Report are eligible expenditures if deemed a requirement for the funding agreement during the negotiation process. If not deemed a requirement, the estimated amounts for an Independently Verified Financial Report can be reallocated to other eligible project costs.

If the project includes a fiscal year where the lead applicant expects to spend more than $100,000 in one fiscal year, it is recommended to include an estimate of the cost for an Independently Verified Financial Report in the application’s budget section, typically under the final year of the project.

Department Audits

ECCC reserves the right to audit any EDF project at the Department’s own expense. Projects of all scope may be subject to an audit at any time. An audit could occur while projects are currently active, or after projects have ended

Section 5. Project work plan

Please complete the table to explain the activities that will be undertaken throughout the project. Indicate a title for each activity.

Include a general “activity category” to frame the description of each activity. Provide details of the activities to be undertaken, timelines, techniques or methods, and the goals for each activity.

The work plan must include information on site-specific details (description), event schedules, seasonal timelines (start and end dates), etc. You may consider organizing activities and targets into quarters according to the following breakdown: April to June, July to September, October to December, and January to March. Remember that you need to clearly describe the link between your activities and the budget in your project proposal.

Possible risks to health and safety must be outlined, as well as the mitigation measures you will put in place.

Include your project’s communication activities and how the public will be informed of the project results achieved. Communications material may include news releases, public events, posters, and social media.

Section 6. Evaluation plan and performance indicators


Please describe how you will measure the expected results and successes of your project. It is important to clearly demonstrate how overall project results will be captured.

Identify a specific evaluation plan to measure the progress and success of your project and the methodology that will be used to capture results. The evaluation plan must also include the methodology used to measure results based on the EDF performance indicators.

Section 7. Other supporting information

Providing the following supporting information is recommended but not required. Should it not be provided at the time of submission, it may be be required at a later date:

Additional letters not listed above confirming other funding (both cash and in-kind) may be requested from successful applicants before a funding agreement can be signed and funds are provided.

Any information submitted after the deadline will NOT be considered in the application evaluation process.

Section 8. Official languages

Please complete the Official Languages section of the application. It is a mandatory requirement for all applications to ECCC funding programs. Each question must be answered by either yes or no, and all applying organizations must respond to the questions.

Information required:

Depending on your project’s audience, and in accordance with the Official Languages Act, you may need to offer products and/or services to the public in both official languages. Please ensure any associated costs (e.g. translation) pertaining to project delivery and/or promotion is included in the budget.

Section 9. Certification

Certification that the information stated in the application is complete and accurate is required.

Please note that the EDF will not accept project applications by email, fax, or mail.

What happens after you submit a project application?

Acknowledgment of receipt

Acknowledgment of receipt is automatically generated by GCEMS. If you did not receive an acknowledgment of receipt, we recommend that you contact your GCEMS to confirm that your application was received.


Your application is reviewed to verify eligibility and to assess technical and scientific merit. All project proposals are subject to the same evaluation criteria. Project applications are reviewed by EDF regional teams to confirm:

Following this administrative assessment, your project proposal is examined by technical reviewers, which is made up of experts from ECCC, other federal government departments, or provincial departments (as applicable) in order to evaluate your application for its scientific and technical merit. The final step would be to conduct an overall assessment of each of the project applications received.

If your project application is approved in principle, you will be contacted through a notification letter to negotiate a funding agreement that outlines the terms and conditions of the funding. Federal Members of Parliament and/or their team will be advised about the approval in principle of a project and be provided with information provided in this application, including the applicant’s name, project title, project description, project location, funding amounts, communication activities and contact information.

If your application is not approved, you will also be informed of this decision in writing.

Any questions or comments may be directed to the EDF regional offices.

Contact us

Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island
E-mail: fdeqa-edfaq@ec.gc.ca

E-mail: edf-fde.on@ec.gc.ca

Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon
E-mail: fdeouestnord-edfwestnorth@ec.gc.ca

National EDF Office
E-mail: EDF-FDE2@ec.gc.ca

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