Environment Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy
Departmental Website Component:
Section IV of the 2011–2012 Report on Plans and Priorities


3. Description of Environment Canada’s Activities Supporting FSDS Themes I, II and II


Theme I: Addressing Climate Change and Air Quality


Goal 2: Air Pollution – Minimize the threats to air quality so that the air Canadians breathe is clean and supports healthy ecosystems
Target 2.3: Chemicals Management – Reduce risks to Canadians and impacts on the environment posed by harmful substances as a result of decreased environmental concentrations and human exposure to such substances
 
FSDS Implementation Strategies Further Details on This Implementation Strategy Alignment with the 2011–2012 Program Activity Architecture (PAA)
2.3.1
Federal custodians plan and undertake assessment and remediation/risk management activities at contaminated sites for which they are responsible in order to reduce human health and ecological risks at higher priority sites. (EC)
The Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (FCSAP) is a cost-shared program that helps federal custodians address contaminated sites for which they are responsible. The primary objective of this program is to address the risks that these sites pose to human health and the environment and to reduce the associated financial liability. The program has the complementary objectives of supporting other socio-economic outcomes, such as training and employment of Canadians and promotion of innovative technologies.

Environment Canada’s responsibilities include providing expert advice to other federal custodians on the issue of ecological risk reduction.

After a site is assessed and the need to address the contamination confirmed, a remediation or risk management plan is used to explore the various alternatives and identify the preferred option to reduce the risk to human health and the environment. The chosen remediation or risk management method is designed to address the unique conditions of the site. Common remediation activities involve reducing exposure to contaminants by removing, destroying or containing them.

By assessing sites suspected of being contaminated, the federal government is able to more accurately estimate human health and environmental risk. Remediation of contaminated sites is designed to reduce human health and ecological risks due to contaminants through the cleanup and risk management of sites.

Performance expectations:
  • Performance indicators are being developed for this implementation strategy and will be available following the finalization of the Performance Management Strategy for the renewed program. Targets will be set following the 2011 federal budget and reporting will begin in 2011–2012.
Program Activity 3.1: Substances and Waste Management
2.3.2
Guidance and program policies developed by the program secretariat and the expert support departments are used by federal custodians in the program implementation activities. (EC)
Environment Canada will sustain the capability to review site classification to ensure funding is directed to the highest-risk sites, and to manage sites with a focus on reducing the risk to human health and the environment.

Expert advice ensures that custodians adopt a scientifically credible and consistent approach to the assessment of human health and ecological risk across the program. A sustainability framework is currently being developed to help custodians integrate sustainable decision making into the management of contaminated sites.

Performance expectations:
  • Performance indicators are being developed for this implementation strategy and will be available following the finalization of the Performance Management Strategy for the renewed program. Targets will be set following the 2011 Federal Budget and reporting will begin in 2011–2012.
Program Activity 3.1: Substances and Waste Management
2.3.3
In 2010-11, site assessments will be undertaken on an estimated 1500 projects by 15 federal custodians in total while an estimated 500 remediation/risk management projects will be implemented - by 17 custodians in total. (EC)
This implementation strategy has been completed and will be reported in the 2010–2011 Departmental Performance Report.

All future work with federal contaminated sites is outlined in the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan.
Program Activity 3.1: Substances and Waste Management
2.3.4
Assess 100% of existing commercial substances as identified under the Chemicals Management Plan for risks to human health and/or the environment (100% of total of 4300 by 2020). (EC, HC)
The Government of Canada is committed to addressing all of the substances that have been identified as being of priority. Under CEPA 1999, Environment Canada and Health Canada have identified priorities though the categorization of all substances in commerce, as included on the Domestic Substances List. The assessment and management of substances is addressed through a range of activities best suited to the level of priority, nature and use of the substances, and types of risks they may pose to Canadians or their environment. For example, substances of highest priority have been addressed through the Challenge initiative, leading to rapid action on substances of greatest concern. Substances of likely low risk have been subject to a rapid screening process to provide for regulatory certainty and appropriate channelling of government and stakeholder resources. Sectoral-based approaches are used for substances relevant to specific industry sectors such as the Petroleum Sector Stream Approach. New initiatives are now underway to concurrently address large groups of similar substances.

To support assessment and management activities, the strategy further involves research and monitoring activities, including updating information on the commercial status of these substances. There is also international collaboration relating to data sharing and shared development of assessment and management approaches.

Depending on the use, release and physical nature of the substance, there could atmospheric considerations that are relevant to air quality. Priority setting, assessment, and related research and monitoring identifies substances of concern and the nature of risks that they pose to Canadians and their environment, allowing risk management to focus on implementing appropriate measures for the reduction of those risks. As part of this priority-setting process, issues related to air quality can be identified.

Performance expectations:
  • 28% (close to 1200 substances) of existing commercial substances under the Chemicals Management Plan assessed for risk to human health and/or the environment.
  • Implementation of risk management measures for those substances identified as being of concern to human health or the environment.
  • Identification of the next round of assessment and associated timelines, and initiation of assessments.
Program Activity 3.1: Substances and Waste Management
2.3.5
Assess 100% of new substances, for which Environment Canada has been notified by industry of their intended manufacture or import, to determine if they are suspected of being toxic within the timelines in the regulation or established services standards. (EC, HC)
Any person who intends to import or manufacture a new substance in Canada must submit a notification to Environment Canada prior to importing or manufacturing the substance. Once the notification is received, Environment Canada and Health Canada are responsible for assessing the substance within the prescribed regulatory timeline to determine whether the proposed uses of the substance could lead to its posing any risk to human health or the environment. One of the considerations when doing risk assessments can be the impacts on air quality.

Actions taken under the New Substances program ensure that new substances are not allowed onto the market if this would result in risks to the environment or human health.

Approximately 500 new substance notifications are processed on an annual basis. Of these 500 assessments, approximately 25 Significant New Activity notices and 10 Ministerial Conditions are issued annually to restrict use of these substances for other activities, or to mitigate potential risks.

Performance expectations:
  • 100% of new substances, intended for manufacture and/or import into Canada, which have been notified by industry to Environment Canada have been assessed within the prescribed regulatory timeline, to determine whether the substance is toxic or capable of becoming “toxic” within the meaning of section 64 of CEPA 1999.
Program Activity 3.1: Substances and Waste Management
2.3.6
Apply life-cycle thinking, sustainable materials management and environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes to promote sustainable consumption and minimize the impacts of products and wastes on the environment and human health. (EC, NRCan)
The notice on pollution prevention plans for switches in vehicles was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on December 29, 2007. It required both vehicle manufacturers and steel mills, as part of their pollution prevention plans, to consider participating in a national mercury switch management program that requires the collection and recycling of mercury switches. The goal of the Notice is to achieve an annual capture rate of 90% of mercury switches within the first four years of the program.

Performance expectations:
  • The performance expectations are for the releases from dental facilities in Canada, not the dentists targeted by the notice (i.e. the ones with best management practices (BMPs) not in place who had to submit declarations). Environment Canada expects that 95% of dental facilities in Canada (using or removing dental amalgams) would have BMPs in place for December 2010 (at the end of the implementation of the pollution prevention (P2) Notice). This target will be evaluated in the next months, based on the declarations received from dental facilities. A national survey will be conducted if required.
  • Adoption of P2 concepts by targeted users will be measured by the number of schedules reported and waste disposal statistics of collection and disposal of mercury from dental offices to appropriate waste management facilities.
Program Activity 3.1: Substances and Waste Management
2.3.8
Ensure at least one risk management measure is in place within the legally mandated timeframes for 100% of substances added to the List of Toxic Substances within. (EC, HC)
For the substances that are found to be “toxic” under CEPA 1999 and are added to the Schedule 1, a proposed instrument to establish or control actions for managing the substance must be published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, within two years of the recommendation that the substance be added to Schedule I. Within 18 months of the publication, the final instrument must be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II.

Information on the above is available on the Chemical Substances website and the CEPA Environmental Registry.

Under the Chemicals Management Plan, the Challenge to industry and other stakeholders was developed to address approximately 200 chemicals identified as high priorities for action due to their potential to cause harm to human health and/or the environment. The Challenge divides these chemicals into 12 batches. Approximately every three months a new batch of chemicals is released for comment and information gathering. The information gathered is used to feed into evidence-based decisions when assessing risks to human health and the environment, and developing measures to reduce these risks.

Performance expectations:
  • All substances added to the List of Toxic Substances will have at least one risk management measure in place within the legally mandated time frames.
Program Activity 3.1: Substances and Waste Management
2.3.9
Deliver compliance promotion activities for key regulatory initiatives. (EC)

Compliance promotion relates to activities that are undertaken to increase the awareness and the understanding of environmental legislation and their related risk management instruments. Through these activities, information is provided on what is required to comply, the benefits of complying with the law as well as the consequences of non-compliance.

The approach to compliance promotion is collaborative and coordinated across the department’s programs and regions and with Enforcement. It is achieved using various tools and approaches such as website postings, letters and emails, brochures, site visits, responses to inquiries and information sessions.

Performance expectations:

  • Conduct compliance promotion activities to increase stakeholder awareness for new regulations for substances newly added as of 2010 to the List of Toxic Substances of CEPA 1999.
Program Activity 3.3 Compliance Promotion and Enforcement
2.3.10
Work with OECD and with the U.S. and Mexico under the auspices of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation to foster green growth collaborative initiatives. (EC)
Canada actively participates in the OECD work on sustainable materials management (SMM) through its participation in the Working Party on Resource Productivity and Waste. SMM is a new concept that shifts from the policy focus from waste management to materials management in support of sustainable development.

Canada is also working with the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) of North America to better understand the international movements of North American electronic waste and to share information and raise awareness on the environmentally sound management (ESM) of electrical waste with small refurbishers and recyclers.

In addition, Canada also works collaboratively with the United States and Mexico to support enforcement activity specific to transboundary movements of electronic wastes. See this website for more information.

Performance expectations:
  • Canada’s participation in OECD meetings or workshops in the near future following the first meeting of the OECD Working Party on Resource Productivity and Waste in June 2010. Other work items and reports under the OECD are to be prepared and finalized in 2011–2012, notably a report on greenhouse gas mitigation scenarios from material management in OECD countries, a synthesis report on SMM, concluding the work on SMM since 2005 and a workshop and report on the policy aspects of nanowaste.
Program Activity 3.1: Substances and Waste Management
2.3.11
Work with provincial and territorial authorities to promote waste minimization and diversion, such as the implementation of the Canada-wide Action Plan on Extended Producer Responsibility. (EC)
In October 2009, the Council of Ministers approved the Canada-wide Action Plan for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and the Canada-wide Strategy for Sustainable Packaging.

The Canada-wide Action Plan for Extended Producer Responsibility commits jurisdictions to work towards managing a list of product categories included in the plan, such as electronic waste, packaging and household hazardous wastes, through extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs by 2015 (phase one) and 2017 (phase 2). EPR programs assign the responsibility of managing a product or packaging at the end-of-life to manufacturers, importers and/or first sellers, thereby shifting responsibility for waste management from municipalities to industry, and away from taxpayers.

For its part, the Sustainable Packaging Strategy commits jurisdictions to work towards managing packaging waste through EPR programs. The strategy also sets out supporting measures for jurisdictions to encourage the production and consumption of sustainable packaging.

See this website for more information.

Performance expectations:
  • Environment Canada will continue to work within the CCME on reporting commitments related to the Canada-wide Action Plan for Extended Producer Responsibility, including a reporting template and the preparation of a progress report. The Department will also release its updated web database of extended producer responsibility, stewardship and take-back programs in Canada.
Program Activity 3.1: Substances and Waste Management