Stakeholder working group terms of reference: National Pollutant Release Inventory
Version: May 2021
The National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) is Canada’s legislated, publicly accessible inventory of pollutant releases (to air, water and land), disposals and transfers for recycling. It is a key resource for identifying pollution prevention priorities; supporting the assessment and risk management of chemicals, and air quality modelling; helping develop targeted regulations for reducing releases of toxic substances and air pollutants; encouraging actions to reduce the release of pollutants into the environment; improving public understanding on sources of pollution; and supporting international reporting.
The NPRI Multi-Stakeholder Work Group (Work Group) is the primary consultative body for the NPRI. The Work Group has been active in providing input and making recommendations regarding the program since its inception. The Work Group will continue to operate as a part of the broader NPRI consultation process that includes all interested Canadian stakeholders and the general public.
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and the Work Group will jointly review this Terms of Reference at least once every three years to determine if modifications are required.
The Work Group is a venue for information and ideas exchanges between Government and stakeholders and among stakeholder members. The mandate of the Work Group is to provide input and recommendations on issues relevant to the NPRI program from a stakeholder perspective. Issues may include modifications to the NPRI substance list and reporting criteria, identifying and resolving data gaps, improving public access to and interpretation of pollutant data, and improving data quality. The Work Group is also a means to provide stakeholders with information on activities of the NPRI, to share with their constituencies or members.
It is important to note that the Work Group is not a decision-making body. However, ECCC will consider all input and recommendations in making final decisions related to the NPRI.
The Work Group will consist of up to 25 members, each of whom will represent one or more organizations. The final list of members will aim to provide a balanced representation of stakeholder categories. As a guide, the Work Group membership will be allocated to the following stakeholder categories:
- Representatives of the reporting community, such as industry associations (approximately 50% of members);
- Civil society organizations (approximately 40% of members);
- Indigenous governments and organizations (approximately 10% of members);
ECCC's goal is to have a Work Group that reflects the diversity of Canada’s population with a range of relevant knowledge, expertise, and experience to provide the best advice possible.
The Work Group membership will be reviewed with each work plan to ensure representation is appropriate for the consultation and engagement items planned. While member organizations will generally be self-nominated within the stakeholder categories, final selection is subject to approval by ECCC. In addition, ECCC may review or change membership as needed, for example to ensure a balanced representation or if a member is not actively participating in the group or not attending meetings.
Each member organization will identify a primary Work Group member. The member organization may identify an alternate, who will be expected to attend meetings if the primary Work Group member cannot attend. Both the member and alternate may attend an in-person meeting of the Work Group, subject to space or other limitations, with prior approval from ECCC. However, when both a member and an alternate attend a meeting, only one will be permitted to intervene and the other will act as an observer, to maintain balanced representation.
4. Observers and resource persons
A list of observers will be maintained by ECCC, who will receive communication that is sent to the Work Group. Observers are welcome to attend virtual meetings of the Work Group. Observers are also welcome to attend in-person Work Group meetings provided they obtain prior approval from ECCC, and taking into account venue capacity, meeting balance, issues to be discussed, or other relevant considerations.
Observers are encouraged to contact ECCC with comments or questions by phone or email either before or after meetings but do not typically participate in member discussions.
Other government representatives that have an interest in NPRI matters, for example from Health Canada and provincial governments, will be included on Work Group correspondence and may participate in Work Group meetings as resource persons or observers. The primary role of a resource person is to contribute information and/or expertise to the Work Group as needed. However, the Work Group is not the forum for ECCC to consult with other government representatives therefore resource persons may not participate in the formulation of input or recommendations.
5. Roles and responsibilities
Members of the Work Group are expected to be familiar with the NPRI, have an appropriate level of knowledge related to pollutant reporting and public disclosure, represent a broad constituency, and have experience in participating in multi-stakeholder discussions on behalf of their constituency.
The Work Group member’s role is to communicate the issues raised by their constituents. Members of the Work Group will be expected to be prepared for meetings, make every effort to ensure that the views that they express reflect those of their constituency, and ensure their Work Group status and contact information is kept up to date. It is also expected that they will communicate the fact of their participation, the positions they will be taking on various issues, and the outcomes of the Work Group to the members of their respective constituencies. Members may bring issues to the table using the agenda development process.
Environment and Climate Change Canada
ECCC will chair the Work Group and provide secretariat support. The Chair of the Work Group will manage the meetings, foster an environment for productive discussions, manage conflict if necessary, and steer the meeting towards productive results.
The Secretariat will function as the Work Group's main point of contact for members. This includes planning meetings, arranging logistics, providing input mechanisms for members' comments, ensuring that members receive meeting materials as far in advance as possible (with a guideline of three weeks), drafting and circulating meeting summaries, preparing and updating the work plan, managing membership, and ensuring the regular review of this Terms of Reference.
6. Conduct of Work Group business
The work plan
The expected activities of the Work Group will be outlined in a work plan. Each work plan will align with the timelines for development of the requirements in the NPRI’s next Canada Gazette notice.
Work Group meetings
There will be a minimum of two virtual meetings (teleconferences or web conferences) per year, and an objective to meet in-person at least every two years. Additional meetings and email exchanges can be used as needed. In setting meeting dates, the Secretariat will attempt to accommodate the availability of as many members as possible.
The following guidelines will apply during Work Group meetings:
- Be open, respectful, and appreciative to the ideas of other members and participants.
- Work toward resolution of matters in a constructive, professional, and timely manner.
- Divergent views will be acknowledged and included in meeting summaries.
- Participants may communicate in the official language of their choice.
- Consultation materials will be provided in both official languages.
A meeting summary with action items will be shared with members. Summaries will be developed by the Secretariat, identifying views by sector where appropriate, but without individual name attributions. Members will have an opportunity to review and comment on the draft prior to it becoming final.
ECCC will endeavour to provide bilateral meetings between ECCC and individual members or observers of the Work Group or groups of stakeholders when requested. This could provide additional opportunity to discuss background or technical details regarding particular consultation or engagement items, and for the non-profit members it could include discussions regarding planning and funding.
Consultation and engagement periods
Background materials are typically required at the beginning of the consultative process for a particular issue to allow for productive discussions, and support the rationale for a proposal. These materials may include analysis of existing data, summaries of literature and publications on the subject, or consultant studies. Background materials will generally be the responsibility of the organization or person that provides the request for change. ECCC and Work Group members may assist with the development of such background materials in certain cases, especially when the proponent does not have the resources to prepare the necessary materials.
To acknowledge the efforts made by Work Group members to provide written submissions during consultation periods, ECCC will develop a summary of stakeholder comments received and ECCC’s responses, and share it with the Work Group after publication of the NPRI’s Canada Gazette notice.
ECCC will use an online file sharing platform to share documents with the Work Group. This will address issues with mailbox sizes and firewalls and provide a convenient location for the most recent versions of documents. Public consultation documents will be shared on a public platform.
ECCC and the Work Group may decide to form sub-groups to assist the Work Group with complex issues where there is a need for technical advice and support. Sub-groups must have clearly defined objectives, timelines and specific deliverables, defined within a Terms of Reference for that sub-group, to ensure the most efficient use of resources. Sub-group participants will be drawn from Work Group members and alternates. Additional participants, including observers may be invited to participate in the sub-groups, based on the needs and issues tabled. Sub-group membership should be balanced among the various stakeholder categories.
Members who require financial assistance to participate in the Work Group may be eligible for funding. Typically, funding would only be available for the members representing non-profit organizations.
A summary of the funding that ECCC will endeavour to provide is included below. It is important to note that all funding requires prior written approval by ECCC.
The amount of available funding is dependant on budget allocations for ECCC’s NPRI program. As much as possible, ECCC and relevant members will discuss and agree on the funding available for the following items, during the development of the work plan. This funding may be adjusted as needed, to accommodate changes in priorities and timelines of the work plan.
ECCC will reimburse members for expenses incurred on approved travel for the Work Group, such as travel, meals and accommodation, according to the Treasury Board’s Directive on Travel, Hospitality, Conference and Event Expenditures.
Participation in meetings and consultation
ECCC will endeavour to provide funding for time spent participating in and preparing for meetings, or more general funding for time spent participating in the Work Group consultation processes during the year. The type of funding available will depend on the funding mechanism used, which may vary among members due to ECCC financial requirements or the needs of an individual non-profit member.
ECCC will endeavour to provide a meeting space for up to one day, for the members representing non-profit organizations to discuss Work Group matters in advance of in-person Work Group meetings.
If there is a need for specific information or technical expertise to help understand certain consultation or engagement topics more thoroughly, the members should notify ECCC. Funding (via contracts administered by ECCC) for specific deliverables, such as studies, may be made available to support the development of stakeholder recommendations and to further the work of the Work Group.
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