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ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report for the Period April 1996 to March 1997

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 and wastes, import and export of hazardous wastes and fuels;
  • Regulate nutrients;
  • Regulate the environmental effects of federal operations;
  • Regulate international air pollution;
  • Regulate ocean dumping; and
  • Enforce regulations, as well as agreements with provinces and territories.

Environment Canada administers the Act on behalf of the federal government, but develops regulations for toxic substances and international air pollution and guidelines jointly with Health Canada.

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.

The shift to pollution prevention as the priority approach for protection of the environment and human health will bring Canada into line with countries that are already reaping the economic benefits of clean, competitive, innovative industries. Pollution prevention legislation has been in place in the United States since 1990. Therefore, it is essential for Canadian activities under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the North American Agreement on Environmental Co-operation that Canada remains in harmony with its most important partners. A renewed CEPA would also include an improved enforcement toolbox. Second Reading for Bill C-74 had not taken place by March 31, 1997.

Advisory Committees

Section 5 provides for the Minister to seek advice from experts on relevant issues. No such Advisory Committees existed during 1996-97, except for the Federal-Provincial Advisory Committee (FPAC) required under Section 6.

Federal-Provincial Advisory Committee (FPAC)

The FPAC consists of provincial/territorial environmental members as well as federal environmental and health representatives. The Committee’s main purpose is to ensure early and effective collaboration and consultation for environmental protection and toxic management initiatives. It also provides a forum for open sharing of information on various environmental initiatives between the federal, provincial and territorial governments.

During 1996-97, members were kept apprised of a number of issues of mutual interest. These include:

  • The work done on the evolution of a renewed CEPA;
  • Progress on the management of toxic substances particularly those on the Priority Substances List.

Other activities include:

Finally, FPAC has dealt with a number of other issues during the year including:

  • The PCB Waste Export Regulations;
  • The Benzene and Sulphur Regulations; and
  • The Global Program of Action on the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities.
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