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Policy Framework for Environmental Performance Agreements

What is Environment Canada's Role?

Environment Canada will commit the resources needed to negotiate Environmental Performance Agreements and oversee their implementation, and will develop and offer incentives. Environment Canada can take on a number of roles ranging from initiating discussions and negotiations to monitoring compliance and, when necessary, introducing additional measures to ensure achievement of negotiated environmental results. The Department will continue to track the experience of other jurisdictions with negotiated agreements and will reflect the lessons learned from that experience in the implementation of this policy framework.

Environment Canada will support Environmental Performance Agreements by:

  • providing scientific and technical expertise, establishing information databases, facilitating information exchange, coordinating reporting, or providing for prior consultation;

  • providing incentives to support industry action, where appropriate: Where practicable, Environment Canada will also coordinate its incentives with those of provincial environmental agencies. These incentives could include:

    • Applying statutory discretion
      Environment Canada may consider performance under an Environmental Performance Agreement when determining such matters as whether and how to regulate, what reporting requirements to impose and the frequency of inspections for a regulated facility. The Minister may also take into account performance under an Environmental Performance Agreement when assessing what complementary tools are needed to ensure adequate environmental protection (e.g., in determining which firms should be required to prepare pollution prevention plans under CEPA 1999). Where Environment Canada decides to regulate an issue that is the subject of an Environmental Performance Agreement, it will seek to do so in a way that minimizes the burden on companies meeting the requirements of the agreement.

    • Recognition
      Environment Canada will publicly recognize the environmental achievements of Environmental Performance Agreement participants.

    • Technical assistance
      Environment Canada may provide specific technical assistance to Environmental Performance Agreement participants that need it, or help direct participants to other federal programs providing such assistance.

    • Economic instruments
      Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the Minister of the Environment has the authority to apply economic instruments, such as deposit/refund schemes and tradable permits, to achieve the goals of the Act. Where appropriate, the Minister could develop economic instruments to support certain Environmental Performance Agreements, and will explore additional options under the authority of other government departments.

      Environment Canada will also work with provinces participating in performance agreements to allow for provision of similar incentives.

      Environment Canada will seek to provide incentives on the basis of performance (i.e., once an agreed performance level has been achieved). Environment Canada will terminate incentives to companies unable to meet their performance commitments and, ultimately, will rescind its agreement should it not be possible to come to a solution.

  • monitoring performance: Environment Canada will review progress made under individual performance agreements periodically to ensure that they are on track and, where appropriate, take action to ensure the achievement of environmental results.

  • taking action with regard to non-performance: Environment Canada will not make commitments that constrain future enforcement action or law and policy development. A case in point would be the negotiation of an Environmental Performance Agreement to reduce the emission of toxic substances as an alternative to a regulation. If such an agreement does not achieve the reduction limits or other identified performance standards within the negotiated timelines, the Department would consider other approaches to reach these limits, including regulation.

    Where Environment Canada negotiates an agreement with a focus on group goals and objectives, it will focus on the group with regard to significant non-performance. Measures to be taken would include rescinding the Environmental Performance Agreement and using alternative tools such as pollution prevention planning and regulation to achieve environmental objectives. Where Environment Canada negotiates an agreement based on individual facility performance, non-performers could be addressed individually and the Environmental Performance Agreement would not necessarily have to be rescinded.