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ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report for the Period of April 1997 to March 1998

Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA)

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) is an Act respecting the protection of the environment and human life and health. It is divided into seven Parts, which include powers to:

  • undertake environmental research and develop guidelines and codes of practice;
  • regulate toxic substances, import and export of hazardous wastes, and fuels;
  • regulate nutrients;
  • regulate the environmental effects of federal operations;
  • regulate international air pollution;
  • regulate ocean dumping;
  • enforce regulations; and
  • conclude agreements with provinces and territories.

Environment Canada administers the Act on behalf of the federal government, but assesses and manages the risk of toxic substances jointly with Health Canada.

Environment Canada supports the principle that protection and conservation of the environment is a shared responsibility among all Canadians and by all jurisdictions. The Department continues to reaffirm the importance of public consultation in the design of its policies, in the development of its programs and in the delivery of its services.

CEPA Review and Renewal

Section 139 requires the review of CEPA after five years. A renewed CEPA has been drafted, and was tabled for First Reading in the House of Commons on December 10, 1996 as Bill C-74. The Bill represents the best balance achievable after long and hard discussion. The philosophical basis of the renewed Act is:

  • Pollution prevention;
  • The ecosystem approach;
  • Protection of biological diversity;
  • Science and the precautionary principle;
  • User/producer responsibility;
  • Economic responsibility; and
  • Intergovernmental cooperation.

Advisory Committees

Section 5 provides for the Minister to seek advice from experts on relevant issues. The Minister did not convene any such Advisory Committees during 1997-98.

Federal-Provincial Advisory Committee (FPAC)

This Advisory Committee, as required by section 6 of the Act, has been in place since 1988. It is composed of members from provincial and territorial environmental ministries as well as representatives from Environment Canada and Health Canada. The Committee advises the Minister on regulations relating to toxic substances and other CEPA-related environmental matters that are of mutual interest. It ensures transparency of the information and processes related to the protection of the environment and the management of toxic substances and for early and effective consultation.

Key activities coordinated by the Advisory Committee during 1997-98 were:

  • the Working Group on Air Quality Objectives and Guidelines;
  • the Working Group on Dioxins and Furans which developed both the Inventory of Releases of Dioxin and Furans and the Hexachlorobenzene Status Report ;
  • a cross-Canada municipal survey on potable and wastewater systems used in estimating exposure to certain substances on the second CEPA Priority Substances List (PSL 2); and
  • consultations with the provinces on the Benzene in Gasoline Regulations.

Pollution Prevention

Although the renewed CEPA seeks a legislative mandate for pollution prevention, the Administrative Duties of the current Act require the Government to take preventative measures in protecting the environment. Pollution prevention has become a cornerstone of federal environmental policy and is the priority approach to environmental protection in Canada. Pollution prevention provisions are being increasingly incorporated into Environment Canada’s programs and approaches to doing business. The Department is working together with all levels of government, as well as Canadian citizens, businesses, industries and non-governmental organizations in order to advance pollution prevention. The use of a variety of approaches such as agreements, partnerships, knowledge and information sharing has created opportunities as well as efficiencies for the delivery of this common objective nationally and internationally.

For the first time, qualitative pollution prevention reporting provisions were incorporated into the National Pollutant Release Inventory for the 1997 reporting year, enabling the collection of facility-specific information regarding pollution prevention. Based on the recommendation of the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development, Environment Canada launched, on March 18, 1998, the Canadian Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse, an Internet-based information tool for pollution prevention. A national awards program was established by the Canadian Council of Ministers for the Environment (CCME), providing recognition to organizations showing leadership in pollution prevention. The Department supported and participated in the development of the first Canadian Pollution Prevention Roundtable, a key example of working with industry, government and non-governmental organizations to advance pollution prevention.

A number of national pollution prevention initiatives designed to provide practical technical guidance to industry were completed. These involved sharing techniques and procedures to prevent and reduce emissions in the areas of:

  • toxic substances as smog contributors;
  • greenhouse gases; and
  • ozone-depleting substances.

Guidelines were developed for emissions of volatile organic compounds from the plastics processing industry and technical bulletins were developed for the recovery and utilization of landfill gases as renewable energy resources.

Participants in the Program for Accelerated Reduction/Elimination of Toxics reduced their annual emissions of toxic substances into the environment by 21,499 tonnes or 61 per cent from base year levels.

The Department contributed to a number of international activities and fora to advance pollution prevention including:

  • a pollution prevention course for the metal finishing industry in Brazil;
  • an international workshop on information systems for clean production and clean technologies;
  • an international workshop on Extended Producer Responsibility; and
  • standardization related to the ISO 14000.

Community-based approaches are becoming increasingly important in advancing pollution prevention, therefore the department’s regional offices are active in promoting these approaches, as outlined below. The Department supported the development of a citizen’s guide to pollution prevention.

The Atlantic Region pollution prevention program continued, through direct community and association interaction, focussing on the following industry sectors:

  • the Shipyard Repair Industry where a multi-agency group focussed on reducing the toxics substances associated with hull maintenance as well as their release to the sea;
  • the Fabricare Industry where seminars on regulatory requirements and pollution prevention opportunities associated with use of perchloroethylene were held; and
  • the Halifax Regional Municipality Pollution Prevention Program where emphasis was given to toxic emissions from vehicle service and repair facilities, metal finishers, and photo finishers.

In the Quebec Region, pollution prevention initiatives included small and medium-sized enterprises as well as federal facilities. The region initiated the development of ENVIROCLUB, in collaboration with le Développement économique Canada (Québec). A support mechanism for small and medium-sized enterprises and on-site pollution prevention projects are among the activities that have been realized to date at ENVIROCLUB. During 1997-98, the region worked to complete an update of its Guide environnemental à l’intention des ministères et sociétés d’État fédéraux au Québec.

In the Ontario Region, voluntary pollution prevention agreements and projects with a number of sectors are showing results in preventing and reducing emissions of toxic substances and other substances of concern. Members of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association have successfully reduced or eliminated emissions of more than 330,000 tonnes since 1992. Automotive parts manufacturers have reduced emissions by more than 623 tonnes since 1996. The metal-finishing industry has reduced emissions by approximately 1,951 tonnes since 1993. The printing and graphics sector has achieved a reduction of more than 369 tonnes of environmental contaminants.

In the Prairie and Northern Region, industry-government partnerships as well as education and training were key components of the pollution prevention program. In partnership with others in Manitoba, the region established a Pollution Prevention Partnership Program and pilot projects with the printing and graphics and metal finishing sectors as well as an industry-led environment program incorporating pollution prevention in the heavy construction industry. An awareness course incorporating pollution prevention into sustainable forest practices was developed for teachers. Practical fact sheets were also developed for health stations and automotive repair facilities in the Northwest Territories. The Northern Rivers Basin Study recommended the implementation of pollution prevention through law, policy and practice as the primary environmental objective for the basin. The Study will focus on municipalities within the basin.

The Pacific and Yukon Region continued to work closely with industrial sectors in the Fraser basin and Burrard Inlet. The Region completed pollution prevention guidelines for numerous industries including wood preservation, foundry, ready-mixed concrete, exposed aggregate, dairy, and brewery and winery operations. Together with other partners, the region established a working group to develop a framework of regulatory and non-regulatory instruments to encourage the adoption of pollution prevention by two small business sectors and participated on advisory committees of pilot projects for industrial pollution prevention. Green Clean workshops for the Fabricare sector were delivered jointly with the Ontario Region.

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