The Environmental Damages Fund (EDF) gives courts a way to ensure money received as compensation for environmental infractions is directly invested to benefit our natural environment. This section of the website will benefit both public and private sector lawyers.
To learn how contributions may be directed to the fund, what groups and project types are eligible to receive funding, or search for relevant legislation, legal precedents and examples of funded projects, select one of the following links:
- About the Environmental Damages Fund
- Eligible Projects
- Eligible and Ineligible Organizations
- Funded Projects
- Environmental Damages Fund Factsheets
Federal Environmental Legislation
- About the new Environmental Enforcement Act
- Legal Precedents (fines, court awards directed to the EDF)
- Environment Canada Acts, Regulations and Agreements
- Federal Acts and Regulations
Directing Funds to the Environmental Damages Fund
- Recommending the Environmental Damages Fund
- How funds are directed
- About court orders
- About Environmental Protection Alternative Measures Agreement (EPAM)
- How court restrictions are used to direct specific contributions
The EDF is a specified purpose account created by the Government of Canada in 1995 and administered by Environment Canada to provide a mechanism for directing funds received as a result of fines, court orders, and voluntary payments to priority projects that will benefit our natural environment. A specified purpose account is one maintained separately from the general revenues of the Government of Canada. Environment Canada solicits project proposals from eligible groups to undertake environmental remediation projects and ensures funded projects are carried out in a cost-effective, technically feasible and scientifically sound manner.
Recent improvements to the administration of the program will ensure funds are disbursed promptly to recipients capable of delivering projects that demonstrate strong environmental results.
Monetary awards are used to fund projects that focus on 1) environmental restoration, 2) environmental quality improvement, 3) research and development, and 4) education and awareness in accordance with EDF program criteria.
Funds are disbursed in the geographic region (local area, region, province or territory) where the incident occurred. Priority is given to projects that restore the natural environment and conserve wildlife in the geographic region where the original incident occurred.
For examples of recently funded projects visit our funded projects page.
To be eligible projects must address one or more of the following categories:
1. Restoration (highest funding priority)
Natural environments affected by environmental damage are restored, for example:
- Restore same type of natural resources lost, of the same quality and value in the locale in which the incident occurred.
- Restore same type of natural resources lost, of the same quality and value in another locale.
- Restore same type of natural resource, but of different quality in the locale where the incident occurred.
2. Environmental Quality Improvement
Environmental quality is improved in areas where environmental damage or harm to wildlife has occurred, for example:
- Improve or enhance different natural resources in the locale in which the incident occurred.
- Improve or enhance different natural resources in a different locale.
- Improve or enhance environments previously degraded by pollutant discharges or other human induced alterations (e.g. tidal barriers, dike lands).
3. Research and Development
Knowledge of long-term and/or cumulative impacts of environmental damage or harm to wildlife is increased, for example:
- Undertake the assessment or research of environmental damage in support of restoration planning including the long-term effects and cumulative impacts of pollutant discharges or for increased understanding of limiting factors for migratory birds populations.
- Develop environmental damage assessment and restoration methods including techniques for the valuation of damage; restoration alternatives (e.g. environmental management plans).
4. Education and Awareness
Awareness and understanding related to environmental damage restoration or compliance with environmental regulations is increased, for example:
- Promote education related to environmental damage restoration including training for the assessment and restoration of damage, or for increased awareness and compliance with environmental regulations.
- Promote community capacity building and environmental stewardship in support of environmental damage restoration.
Funding priority is given to projects that will help to restore the natural environment and conserve wildlife in the geographic region (local area, region or province) most affected by the original incident.
In instances where fines are directed to the EDF when no environmental damage or harm to wildlife has occurred, consideration will be given to all types of projects under the four project categories (research and development or education and awareness projects related to environmental restoration and compliance with regulations).
Environment Canada actively seeks project proposals from both large and small organizations requesting financial support for projects that meet the EDF program criteria.
1. Eligible organizations include:
- Non-governmental organizations
- Universities and academic institutions
- Aboriginal groups
- Provincial, territorial and municipal governments
2. Ineligible organizations are encouraged to partner with eligible groups to apply for funding. Non-eligible organizations include:
- Federal governments and agencies
3. Offenders are not eligible to apply directly, or to partner with eligible organizations, for fines or monetary payments they have made that have been directed to the EDF.
Rehabilitation Project to Construct Nesting Shelters
Ducks Unlimited Canada received $14,565 to install nesting shelters to improve feeding and breeding rates of the eider bird population on islands located in Main Brook and Roddickton, Newfoundland and Labrador, and to hold education sessions to rebuild stewardship capacity amongst local youth. Fines received in violation of the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994.
Total project value: $42,085
Select a link to read about successfully completed EDF funded projects in your region:
- Rehabilitation Project to Construct Nesting Shelters
- Research Project to Monitor Seabird Populations for Oil Spill Preparedness
- Restoration and Awareness Project on watercourses degradation
- Restoration Project in the Témiscamingue Region
- Shoreline Restoration Project
- Rehabilitation Project
- Research and Development Project to Monitor Contaminants in Arctic Landfills
- Project to Solve Illegal Hunting Cases
- Restoration and Education Project to Improve Water Quality
- Restoration and Habitat Recovery of Burrard Inlet
Federal Environmental Legislation
The Environmental Enforcement Act came into force in 2010. It amended the following nine statutes so that they will require that fines levied be directed to the EDF:
- Antarctic Environmental Protection Act
- Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act
- Canada National Parks Act
- Canada Wildlife Act
- Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
- International River Improvements Act
- Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994
- Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park Act
- Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act
Environment Canada's Enforcement Notifications contain information on successful environmental prosecutions across Canada. Listed among these are prosecutions that resulted in monetary payments or levied fines being directed to the EDF.
For information relating solely to those prosecutions that resulted in monetary payments or fines being directed to the EDF, visit our Legal Precedents page.
Environment Canada administers dozens of acts either in whole or in part, as well as regulations and agreements to fulfil its mandate. It also assists with the administration of many others.
Environment Canada uses regulations to place strict controls on areas governed by these acts. It enters into agreements with individual or multiple parties to define mutual commitments, roles and actions on specific environmental issues.
Search Environment Canada's Acts, Regulations and Agreements
Department of Justice provides legal advice to the Government and all federal government departments and agencies, represents the Crown in civil litigation and before administrative tribunals, drafts legislation, and responds to the other legal needs of federal departments and agencies.
You may wish to search Justice Canada's Consolidated Statutes and Regulations to access the full text of federal acts and regulations as well as updates.
Directing Funds to the Environmental Damages Fund
Role of Enforcement
Environmental and Wildlife enforcement officers from Environment Canada, Transport Canada, Fisheries and Oceans and Parks Canada perform a variety of activities including inspections, investigations and intelligence gathering.
In consultation with subject matter experts, enforcement officers formulate recommendations regarding the most appropriate legal mechanism to be used and write up case files to be presented to the prosecutors. Enforcement officers will remind prosecutors of the availability of the EDF at the time of the referral of charges for prosecution. When preparing their briefs to prosecutors enforcement officers may include a regionally specific factsheet about the EDF which includes two EDF funded projects.
Role of Prosecutors
Prosecutors make the determination on how to proceed with the case. When appropriate they may choose to recommend the EDF as a mechanism for directing funds to priority projects that will restore environmental damage or harm to wildlife. They may also choose to dispel any misunderstandings so that the courts learn about the value of the EDF prior to making a final ruling.
1) Fines and Court Orders
The majority of funds are directed to the EDF through statutory fines and court-ordered payments. A number of federal statutes authorize discretionary court orders that have been used to direct monies to the EDF1, for example:
- Canada Shipping Act, 2001
- Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 19992
- Criminal Code3
- Fisheries Act
- Species at Risk Act
All fines collected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 must be directed to the EDF, by virtue of subsection 13(6) of the Act.
2) Voluntary payments or Payments from International funds
In some cases contributions to the EDF can also arise from outside the judicial system. These include negotiated settlements (for example, Environmental Protection Alternative Measures, or EPAMs under Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999), voluntary payments, or payments from international funds such as the Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund or the International Oil Pollution Funds.
Court-ordered contributions to the EDF can be made in the form of civil or criminal, court ordered payments to the Crown. Civil awards are made by the civil courts in the context of civil litigation. Court ordered fines are payments, including also made by the criminal courts in the context of prosecutions. Such prosecutions are considered to be prosecutions of regulatory offences. Court ordered payments are generally a discretionary court order directing a specific contribution to the EDF.
Generally, fines paid to the Crown, are deposited in the Consolidated Revenue Fund. However, a statute can direct that fines be paid to the EDF instead, as is the case with the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 subsection 13(6) of the Act. When the Environmental Enforcement Act (EEA) comes into force, fines collected under the nine amended statutes will also be directed to the EDF.
Payment into the EDF can also be a term of an EPAM under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, or alternative measures under the Species at Risk Act. EPAMs are negotiated between the Attorney General of Canada and a person charged with an offence who qualifies4. In most instances, these payment options are discussed between the prosecutor working on the case and the accused party or counsel of the accused.
When authorized by law, a court may use its discretionary power to direct a specific contribution to the EDF. When directing a specific contribution, the court has the authority to include conditions regarding how the funding is applied to eligible EDF projects. In these instances, the court may choose to identify the 1) recipient, 2) location and 3) scope of an EDF project.
Where a court has recommended a particular recipient to undertake the project in accordance with the Environmental Enforcement Act, priority will be given to direct EDF funds to that recipient provided they are 1) eligible to receive funding by the EDF 2) capable of undertaking a project that will generate strong environmental results and 3) will meet all program reporting requirements. Generally, the Minister of the Environment will follow recommendation of the court
Quick Fact - EDF Program Criteria
The EDF program funds both large and small eligible groups in the geographic region (local area, region or province) where the original incident occurred. Funding priority is given to projects that will restore the natural environment and conserve wildlife.
1. See for example, Fisheries Act, 2001para. 79. 2(f), Canada Shipping Act, 2001, para 193 (d).
2. For example, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999 para. 291(m) can be relied on if the funds are allocated to the Canada Revenue Fund in trust to the EDF.
3. For Acts that do not contain specific provisions for remedial court orders, a probation order under the Criminal Code para. 731 may be considered.
4. See Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 para. 298 (1), and Species at Risk Act s. 109.
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