Understanding the Canadian Environmental Protection Act
About the act and how the federal government works to prevent pollution and protect the environment and human health.
Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
The primary purpose of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) is to contribute to sustainable development through pollution prevention. It provides the legislative basis for a range of federal environmental and health protection programs. These include activities related to:
- the assessment and management of risks from chemicals, polymers and living organisms
- programs related to air and water pollution, hazardous waste, air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions
- ocean disposal and
- environmental emergencies.
Current Parliamentary review
Section 343 of CEPA 1999 provides for a parliamentary review of the administration of the Act every five years after it has come into force. Parliament did not establish or designate a committee to conduct a review in 2010 or 2015.
On June 15, 2017, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development initiated a study of certain aspects of the act. It submitted its report to the House of Commons and pursuant to Standing Order 109, the Committee requested a response to its report and the Government has 120 days to table its response.
- Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
- Canadian Environmental Protection Act registry
- A Guide to Understanding the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
- Legislative review of CEPA 1999
- CEPA annual report for the period of April 2016 to March 2017 (PDF 2.1 MB)
- Healthy Environment, Healthy Canadians, Healthy Economy: Strengthening the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
- Discussion Paper: CEPA 1999 - Issues and Possible Approaches
Monitoring, reporting and research
Under Part 3, Section 44 of the Act, the Minister of the Environment is authorized to:
- establish environmental monitoring stations
- collect and publish data on environmental quality in Canada
- conduct research and studies on pollution control and environmental contamination
- formulate pollution prevention plans
- publish information on pollution prevention plans and on the quality and state of the environment in Canada.
- Canadian Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network
- Chemicals Management Plan
- Global Atmospheric Passive Sampling Study Network
- Canadian Greenhouse Gas Measurement Program
- National Air Pollution Surveillance Program
- Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program
- Environmental indicators
- Air Quality Health Index
- National Pollutant Release Inventory
- Canada’s greenhouse gas inventory
- Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals
Scientific research provides valuable insight into the causes, nature and impacts of environment and health risks by helping to:
- determine the extent of exposure to pollutants
- monitor changes to the environment over time
- guide risk assessments
- develop preventive and control measures
- provide specialized sampling and analytical techniques used in compliance promotion and enforcement.
- Air quality research and science
- Climate change science, research and data
- Wildlife research and landscape science
- Environmental and workplace health
- Environmental contaminants
- Science and technology laboratories
- National Wildlife Research Centre
- Canadian Meteorological Centre
Compliance and enforcement
Environmental Enforcement Act
This omnibus legislation modernized and harmonized the fine regimes and sentencing provisions of nine environmental acts and introduced new enforcement tools. The combined effect of these measures is to help achieve greater compliance with federal environmental legislation.
- Environmental Enforcement Act
- Fine regime under the Environmental Enforcement Act
- Regulations Designating Regulatory Provisions for Purposes of Enforcement (Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999).
Administrative monetary penalties under CEPA Parts 7 and 9
The EEA also introduced the Environmental Violations Administrative Monetary Penalties Act (EVAMPA), which sets out the framework for the establishment of a fair and efficient administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) regime to:
- create a financial disincentive to non-compliance with designated legislative requirements and
- provide an alternative to other enforcement measures which may not be effective or available in all situations.
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