Planning for A Sustainable Future: The Public Health Agency of Canada’s Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy 2011-2014

Office of Sustainable Development
Public Health Agency of Canada

March 2011

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

This is the Public Health Agency of Canada’s first Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy (DSDS) under the 2008 Federal Sustainable Development Act requirements. It complies with and contributes to the goals, targets and implementation strategies identified in the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) and is consistent with the Agency’s mandate.

The Public Health Agency of Canada’s DSDS supports the first FSDS in one of the four FSDS thematic areas, Theme 4: Shrinking the Environmental Footprint – Beginning with Government, also known as “Greening Government Operations” (GGO). As part of Theme 4: Shrinking the Environmental Footprint – Beginning with Government, PHAC has identified 13 distinct Agency targets to support reducing its environmental footprint in a substantial manner.

Further, additional PHAC sustainable development activities include commitments to: Strategic Environmental Assessments, the Sustainable Development Advocate, the PHAC National Energy Reduction Initiative and the PHAC Dead Battery Recycling Program.

Raison d’être

This document is the Public Health Agency of Canada’s first Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy (DSDS) as required under the 2008 Federal Sustainable Development Act (FSDA). This document serves as the internet component of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s (PHAC) Section IV of the Report on Plans and Priorities. PHAC’s DSDS responds to the FSDA requirements and sets out the framework within which the Agency’s DSDS is developed, describes the linkage between sustainable development and public health, articulates how sustainable development is managed within PHAC and explains the Agency’s specific and additional contributions to the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) goals and targets. The Public Health Agency Canada’s compliance with the FSDA consists of two parts: the FSDS requirements in the Reports on Plans and Priorities; and, this internet document.

Introduction

The FSDA, which came into effect in 2008, provides the legal framework for developing and implementing a Federal Sustainable Development Strategy that will make environmental decision-making more transparent and accountable to Parliament.

The FSDA states that “[t]he Government of Canada accepts the basic principle that sustainable development is based on an ecologically efficient use of natural, social and economic resources”. It further notes that the FSDS will be based on the precautionary principle, which states “where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.”

The Minister of the Environment must table in Parliament, every three years, a FSDS which includes an overarching set of goals, targets and implementation strategies. The first FSDS was tabled in Parliament on October 6, 2010. It establishes a framework for sustainable development planning and reporting with three key elements:

  • An integrated, whole-of-governmentFigure 5 - Footnote 1 picture of actions and results to achieve environmental sustainability;
  • A link between sustainable development planning and reporting and the Government’s core expenditure planning and reporting system; and
  • Effective measurement, monitoring and reporting in order to track and report on progress to Canadians.

The FSDS brings together goals, targets and implementation strategies which have been created through the normal course of government decision-making. For the most part, the FSDS itself does not establish new goals and targets, with the exception of those related to shrinking the government’s environmental footprint in theme IV. Rather it makes the outcomes of decision-making more transparent. FSDS goals, targets, and implementation strategies are organized under four priority themes:

  1. Addressing climate change and air quality;
  2. Maintaining water quality and availability;
  3. Protecting nature; and
  4. Shrinking the environmental footprint – Beginning with government (also known as Greening Government Operations or GGO).

First established in 1990, the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals (the Cabinet Directive) formally integrates environmental considerations into federal government decision-making through use of Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs). These assessments are included when policy, plan or program proposals are submitted to the Minister or Cabinet for approval and their implementation may have important environmental effects. The Cabinet Directive was updated in 2010 to ensure policies, plans and programs are consistent with the government’s broad environmental objectives and sustainable development goals, as laid out in the FSDS. Under the FSDS, departments will be required to apply FSDS goals and targets when undertaking SEAs and report on the extent and results of their SEA practices.

The Public Health Agency of Canada, along with other departments and agencies, will report its specific sustainable development commitments in its Report on Plans and Priorities and report progress in its Departmental Performance Report.


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