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ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report for Period April 2000 to March 2001

2. Public Participation

Part 2 requires the establishment of an Environmental Registry of information relating to the Act that is published or made publicly available. The goal of the Registry is to make it easier to access public documents, such as proposed administrative and equivalency agreements, regulations, Ministerial notices, and inventories such as the NPRI.

Part 2 also outlines enhanced rights of individuals:

  • It provides enhanced "whistleblower protection" by prohibiting the disclosure of the identity of individuals who voluntarily report CEPA 1999 offences. In addition, it is an offence to dismiss, harass, or discipline any employee who voluntarily reports a CEPA 1999 violation. CEPA 1999 shows the federal government's strong commitment to encourage and support public participation in the decision-making process.
  • It allows for an individual who is at least 18 years of age and a resident of Canada to request an investigation of an alleged offence. Should the Minister fail to conduct an investigation or responds unreasonably, and if there has been significant harm to the environment, then the individual has new rights to proceed with an "Environmental Protection Action." This is a civil suit and seeks redress for damage to the environment. The individual is not entitled to any personal damage award under the CEPA 1999 provisions.
  • It reiterates the common law and the Quebec Civil Code right to seek compensation through civil action for loss or damage as a result of an alleged violation of the Act or regulations.

2.1 CEPA Environmental Registry

The CEPA Environmental Registry was launched with the proclamation of CEPA 1999 on March 31, 2000. It is a key instrument in meeting the commitment to public participation by providing comprehensive access to information related to the administration of the Act. It also provides an opportunity for the Canadian public to understand how the federal government administers CEPA 1999 by facilitating access, directly and through search capabilities, to public documents.

The content and structure of the Registry continues to evolve as new documents are added and improvements are identified and implemented. Software is in place to monitor access and inquiries, as well as to evaluate use. Quarterly reports provide Environment Canada with information on use statistics, adjustments, additions, and direct public feedback. Use by the public has steadily increased as the site becomes more popular and well known. Reports indicate that the Registry has experienced a nearly fourfold increase in overall use since April 2000.