Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the Environmental Damages Fund?
- What types of projects are eligible for funding?
- Are offenders eligible to apply for their own fines through the Environmental Damages Fund program?
- How are projects funded?
- How do court restrictions affect the use of the funds?
- Do other federal government departments have statues that can be used to direct funds to EDF?
- What federal environmental legislation is relevant to Environmental Damages Fund?
- How will amendments to the Environmental Enforcement Act (EEA) affect the Environmental Damages Fund?
Questions and Answers
What is the Environmental Damages Fund?
The Environmental Damages Fund (EDF) follows the Polluter Pays Principle to help ensure that those who cause environmental damage or harm to wildlife take responsibility for their actions.
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 provides oversight and accountability of monies directed to the EDF by soliciting project proposals from eligible groups and ensuring projects are carried out in a cost-effective, technically feasible and scientifically sound manner.
For examples of recently funded projects visit our funded projects page.
What types of projects are eligible for funding?
Priority funding is given to projects that will restore the natural environment or harm to wildlife in the geographic region (local area, region or province) where the original incident occurred. To be eligible for funding, projects must be delivered in a cost effective, technically feasible and scientifically sound manner and must address one or more of the following EDF categories:
- Restoration (highest funding priority)
- Environmental Quality Improvement
- Research and Development
- Education and Awareness
Are offenders eligible to apply for their own fines through the Environmental Damages Fund program?
Offenders are not eligible to apply directly, or through partnerships with eligible groups, for fines or monetary payments they have made that have been directed to the EDF.
How are projects funded?
When funds become available, Environment Canada regional offices solicit project proposals through calls for proposals from eligible groups. Whether large or small, eligible groups must be capable of delivering projects that demonstrate strong environmental results. Priority is given to projects that will restore the natural environment or improve environmental quality in the area where the original incident occurred.
In instances where fines are directed to the EDF when no environmental damage or harm to wildlife has occurred, for example, non-compliance with reporting procedures, under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999), the program will fund projects that address one or more of the four EDF project categories provided they meet EDF program criteria.
Applications submitted to the Environmental Damages Fund are reviewed by a team of experts from Environment Canada and other federal departments, such as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Transport Canada and Parks Canada to:
- ensure any conditions or use restrictions are respected
- ensure projects meet EDF program criteria
- make funding recommendations
Environment Canada provides oversight by ensuring successfully funded projects are carried out in a cost-effective, technically feasible and scientifically sound manner.
To have a draft project proposal reviewed for feedback or to submit a project proposal please, contact your Environment Canada regional office.
How do court restrictions affect the use of the funds?
When authorized by law, a court may use their discretionary power to direct a specific contribution to the EDF. When directing a specific contribution, the court has the authority to include restrictions 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 a project, 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 positive environmental results, and 3) will meet all program reporting requirements.
Do other federal government departments have statues that can be used to direct funds to EDF?
While the EDF is administered and delivered by Environment Canada (EC), the Department works closely with other government departments, namely Parks Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Transport Canada that have statutes (i.e., the Fisheries Act and the Canada Shipping Act, 2001) that provide a mechanism for the courts to direct funds to the EDF.
EC works with these departments to determine funding priorities, communicate available funding to potential applicants and actively seek project proposals, review proposals, and make funding recommendations.
What federal environmental legislation is relevant to Environmental Damages Fund?
Several federal environmental statutes authorize the making of court orders for the payment of money by offenders as a remediation measure to deal with environmental damage. In some cases, the sentencing court may order the amount of a fine to be paid as the court directs, for example to the EDF.
Payment into the EDF can also be a term of an Environmental Protection Alternative Measures Agreement (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 qualifies.
The majority of funds are directed to the EDF through statutory fines and court-ordered payments. By way of court order, funds have been directed to the EDF under a number of statutes including, but not restricted to, the following:
- Canada Shipping Act, 2001
- Fisheries Act
- Species at Risk Act
- Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
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.
How will amendments to the Environmental Enforcement Act (EEA) affect the Environmental Damages Fund?
The Environmental Enforcement Act received Royal Assent in June 2009 and came into force in Fall 2010. The EEA amended nine existing statutes that are administered by Environment Canada and the Parks Canada Agency to direct all fines levied to the EDF:
- Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
- Canada Wildlife Act
- Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994
- Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act
- Antarctic Environmental Protection Act
- International River Improvements Act
- Canada National Parks Act
- Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act
- Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park Act
Additional amendments include:
Strengthening enforcement authorities and sentencing by:
- Raising maximum fines and introducing minimum fines for the first time. Under the amendments: fines for individuals who commit serious offences would be between $5,000 and $1 million fines for corporations would be between $25,000 and $6 million.
- Giving new powers to enforcement officers to investigate cases.
- Granting new sentencing authorities to courts to ensure penalties reflect the seriousness of the pollution and wildlife offences.
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