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ARCHIVED - A Guide to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 March 2000

Part 1: Administration (Sections 6 - 10)

Advisory Committees (Sections 6 - 8)

CEPA 1999 requires the Minister to establish a National Advisory Committee (NAC) composed of representatives from each province, and territory, and six representatives of aboriginal governments drawn from across Canada. By including aboriginal representation, CEPA 1999 explicitly recognizes the increasing role of aboriginal peoples in environmental protection as a result of self-government. It is the responsibility of other governments, and not the federal Minister, to appoint NAC members.

The duties of the NAC include advising the federal Minister(s) on:

  • proposed regulations for toxic substances;
  • proposed regulations on environmental emergencies;
  • a cooperative, coordinated approach to the management of toxic substances; and
  • any other matter of mutual interest.

The NAC can provide both policy and technical advice. It is a consultative mechanism to ensure provincial, territorial and aboriginal governments are made aware of proposed measures under CEPA 1999 and that their advice and concerns are considered.

Under section 7, either Minister can establish other advisory committees to examine specific topics.

Administrative and Equivalency Agreements (Sections 9 - 10)

Administrative agreements with provinces and territories have been used extensively by the federal government in areas ranging from taxation to immigration. Under CEPA 1999 these agreements are work-sharing arrangements that can cover any matter related to the administration of the Act. Such matters include inspections, investigations, information gathering, monitoring, and reporting of collected data. These agreements do not release the federal government from any of its responsibilities under the law, nor do they delegate legislative power from one government to another.

CEPA 1999 also allows the federal government to enter into administrative agreements with aboriginal governments as well as an aboriginal people (e.g., Band Councils under the Indian Act that do not meet the criteria in the definition of aboriginal government).

CEPA 1999 also includes provisions for equivalency agreements. These are arrangements where a CEPA regulation no longer applies in a province, a territory or an area under the jurisdiction of an aboriginal government that has equivalent requirements. The provincial, territorial or aboriginal government requirement does not have to have the same wording as the CEPA regulation, but it must be agreed that the effect is the same. The provincial, territorial or aboriginal government must also have a mechanism that allows individuals to request an investigation of alleged offences. Equivalency agreements are possible for CEPA regulations dealing with toxic substances, international air or international water pollution, environmental emergencies and, for aboriginal governments only, regulations relating to aboriginal land or environmental protection generally and made under Part 9.

This legislation requires that all proposed equivalency and administrative agreements undergo a 60-day public comment period, and that they terminate five years after coming into force.

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