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ARCHIVED - Implementation Guidelines for Part 8 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 – Environmental Emergency Plans

7.0 Public Access to Submitted Notices and Declarations

Regulatees will have the option of submitting the required information in hard copy or electronically. Unfortunately, electronic signatures are not available at this time; therefore, a copy of the notice/declaration must be signed by an authorized official designated by the regulatees concerned and sent to the appropriate Environment Canada Regional Office (see Appendix 6). Once reviewed, the notices/declarations (minus any sensitive information) will be posted on the CEPA Registry, where they will be available to the public. However, in concert with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, steps will be taken to manage the sensitive information in a way that does not place Canadians at risk through access to such information by potential criminal or terrorist elements.

Any person submitting information to the Minister is entitled to submit a request under section 313 of CEPA 1999 that specific information be treated as confidential. All such requests will be reviewed under the provisions of sections 315 to 321 of CEPA 1999 and section 20 of the Access to Information Act. Note, however, that sections 315 to 321 of CEPA 1999 authorize the Minister of the Environment to release information covered by section 20(1) of the Access to Information Act in some circumstances.

The following excerpt from the Access to Information Act provides guidance as to the type of third-party information that might be considered confidential business information:

20(1) Subject to this section, the head of a government institution shall refuse to disclose any record requested under this Act that contains:

  1. trade secrets of a third party;
  2. financial, commercial, scientific or technical information that is confidential information supplied to a government institution by a third party and is treated consistently in a confidential manner by a third party;
  3. information the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to result in material financial loss or gain to, or could reasonably be expected to prejudice the competitive position of, a third party;
  4. information the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to interfere with contractual or other negotiations of a third party.

As per the authorities under section 313 of CEPA 1999, most of the information submitted under the Environmental Emergency Regulations and section 199 requirements will be publicly available on the CEPA Registry. This is consistent with the government's commitment under CEPA 1999 to provide Canadians with increased access to information and more opportunities for input before decisions are made. However, in order to comply with existing federal legislation related to confidential business information and national security considerations, some detailed information about chemical substances, such as the exact quantities and location of the chemicals, may not necessarily be released to the public.

Arrangements are put in place to ensure that even sensitive information that is classified for either confidential business information or national security reasons will be accessible, to the extent legally permissible, by first responders on a need-to-know basis. Regulatees who are subject to the Environmental Emergency Regulations will be encouraged to work with local emergency response personnel and community groups in preparing and implementing their environmental emergency plans.

Both the Green Lane and the CEPA Registry are Internet-based and publicly accessible. The CEPA Registry is a comprehensive on-line source of public information relating to activities under CEPA 1999. The Registry contains factual information about CEPA-related activities and provides a source of current information on CEPA 1999 instruments and a directory of consultation opportunities and contacts. It also enables the public to monitor proposed Regulations and Orders from their initial publication in Part 1 of the Canada Gazette through public consultations and their final publication in Part 2 of the Canada Gazette.

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