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ARCHIVED - Environment Canada's Enforcement Branch Organization, Role and Responsibilities

Presentation to the Renewable Fuels Industry Technical Advisory Group

Sylvie El Hamarneh
Senior Regulatory Analyst
Enforcement Branch
June 23, 2009

This presentation is also available in PDF (136 Kb)

EC Enforcement - Mission


To enforce the legislation administered by EC in order to protect the environment, biodiversity, wildlife and health of Canadians.


  • In June 2005, Environment Canada took steps to reorganize its enforcement functions by creating the Enforcement Branch (headed by a Chief Enforcement Officer) and obtaining supplementary funding to hire and train enforcement officers.
  • To enforce both environmental and wildlife protection laws, Environment Canada has close to 300 designated enforcement officers located in offices across the country.

Enforcement Branch in NCR

Environmental Enforcement Directorate

  • Environmental Enforcement Division (Inspections, Investigations and Intelligence)

Enforcement Services Directorate

  • Regulatory Analysis Division
  • Operational Policies Division
  • Learning and Development Division

Wildlife Enforcement Directorate

  • Wildlife Enforcement Division (Inspections, Investigations and Intelligence)

Strategic Policy, Planning and Coordination Directorate

  • Strategic Policy Division
  • Engagement and Coordination Division
  • Planning and Reporting Division

Enforcement Branch Legislative Mandate

Legislative Responsibilities
Environmental Enforcement Directorate
  • Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 and 46 associated regulations
  • Pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act and six associated regulations
  • Antarctic Environmental Protection Act
  • International River Improvements Act
Wildlife Enforcement Directorate
  • Canada Wildlife Act
  • Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994
  • Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act
  • Species at Risk Act

Policy Context: EC Enforcement Policies

To guide enforcement officers in the fair, predictable and consistent application of the law, a series of departmental compliance and enforcement policies are used:

  • Compliance and Enforcement Policy for the Canadian Environment Protection Act, 1999
  • Compliance and Enforcement Policy for the Habitat Protection and Pollution Prevention Provisions of the Fisheries Act
  • Compliance and Enforcement Policy for Wildlife Legislation
  • Compliance and Enforcement Policy for the Species at Risk Act (draft)

While there are four distinct policies, they share the following core principles:

  • Compliance with the Acts and regulations is mandatory;
  • EOs will apply the Acts in a fair, predictable and consistent manner;
  • EOs will administer the Acts with an emphasis on the protection of biodiversity, prevention of damage to the environment and/or risks to health;
  • EOs will examine every suspected violation of which they have knowledge and take action consistent with policy;
  • The public is encouraged to report suspected violations.

Annual Enforcement Priorities

  • Environment Canada's (EC) Enforcement Branch (EB) uses a consultation process to determine its annual enforcement priorities.
  • Through the National Enforcement Plan processes, EC regulatory partners (i.e., risk managers for regulations) are engaged to identify regulations, sectors and geographic areas requiring priority enforcement attention.
  • Every year, submissions are provided to EB where risk managers provide justification, via a number of established criteria, why their regulations should be an enforcement priority.

    Examples of criteria are:
    • the level of risk posed to the environment and/or human health
    • compliance history
    • the coming into force of new risk management instruments or amendments to current regulations
    • federal/provincial/territorial and international commitments
    • government priorities
    • scale and goal of the regulations and size of the regulated community

  • At the end of the consultation process, a plan is created (approved by EC senior management) outlining where the EB will focus enforcement activities in a given fiscal year.

Operational Context: Enforcement Activities


Verify compliance with Acts and associated regulations.


An inspection becomes an investigation when there are reasonable grounds to believe a violation has been committed. Evidence relevant to a suspected violation is gathered. An investigation can also be triggered by intelligence reports or public complaints/requests.


On-going information collection and analysis of compliance activities and emerging non-compliance issues within regulated sectors. Preparation of intelligence summaries for internal purposes and sharing of information with national and international partners, as needed.

Inspection Powers
(of EOs under CEPA 1999)

  • Enter, open receptacles, take samples.
  • Conduct tests and measurements.
  • Have access to information, including electronic data.
  • Seek inspection warrants for private dwelling-place or non-dwelling:
    • to which entry has been refused; or
    • that have been found locked or abandoned.
  • Stop conveyances.
  • Redirect ships to Canadian waters or ports for inspection.
  • Seizure during an inspection.

Investigation Powers
(of EOs under CEPA 1999)

  • Search with or without a search warrant (latter under exigent circumstances).
  • Seizure under the authority of a search warrant or without a warrant (latter under exigent circumstances).
  • Redirect ships to Canadian waters or ports for investigation (for foreign ship, permission of Attorney General of Canada is necessary and must be in the Exclusive Economic Zone).

Peace Officer Powers
(of EOs under CEPA 1999)

Examples of peace officer powers:

  • Authority to seek general warrant under the Criminal Code
  • Authority to do searches at and around the perimeter of a property
  • Authority to mark items for tracking
  • Authority to search in anticipation of a violation
  • Authority to seek warrant for electronic surveillance
  • Authority to arrest with or without warrant

Operational Context: Enforcement Actions

  • Where an EO determines, based on available evidence, that a violation either has taken place or is imminent, an enforcement action may be warranted.
  • In selecting an appropriate enforcement measure, EOs consider the following criteria outlined in the compliance and enforcement policies:
    • Nature of the violation: seriousness of harm, intent of the violator, compliance history, etc.
    • Effectiveness of the measure in achieving the desired result: general result sought is compliance within the shortest time with no further occurrence
    • Consistency in enforcement: consistency, so similar situations are dealt with in a similar fashion

Operational Context: Enforcement Measures

The following list includes measures available to address violations:

  • Warnings
  • Tickets
  • Directions/Directives
  • Ministerial orders
  • Prohibition orders involving new substances
  • Recall orders
  • Detention orders for Ships
  • Environmental protection compliance orders
  • Laying of charges

Collaboration with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada

Once a charge has been laid, the file lead is transferred to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, but the EO remains involved with the file by:

  • Providing testimony in court proceedings
  • Providing advice to Crown Counsel in negotiating an Environmental protection alternative measure with violators in situations where it is in the public interest to pursue alternatives to court trials
  • Recommending appropriate penalties and court orders upon conviction

Additional Information

For more information, visit the following web sites:

Enforcement Branch

CEPA 1999 Compliance and Enforcement Policy

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