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ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report for Period April 2003 to March 2004

3. Information Gathering, Objectives, Guidelines and Codes of Practice

Part 3 authorizes the Minister of the Environment to:

  • establish environmental monitoring systems;
  • collect and publish data on environmental quality in Canada;
  • conduct research and studies on pollution control and environmental contamination;
  • formulate plans for pollution prevention and the control and abatement of pollution; and
  • publish information on pollution prevention, pertinent information on all aspects of environmental quality and a periodic report on the state of the Canadian environment.

this Part also authorizes the Minister of Health to:

  • collect, process, correlate and publish on a periodic basis data from any research or studies conducted relating to the role of substances in illnesses or in health problems; and
  • distribute available information to inform the public about the effects of substances on human health.

3.1 Environmental Quality Monitoring

In Canada, air and water quality monitoring is carried out through partnerships among provincial, territorial and federal governments, municipalities, universities, air and water associations, environmental groups and volunteers.

Monitoring Programs

3.1.1 National Air Pollution Surveillance Network

The National Air Pollution Surveillance Network is a joint federal, provincial, territorial and municipal network, established in 1969. It is primarily an urban network, with 289 air monitoring stations in 177 communities. In total, almost 800 continuous analyzers and samplers are used to provide air quality measurements on such CEPA toxics as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and dioxins and furans as well as heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and mercury. Over the years, the network has produced one of the largest and most geographically diverse databases of pollutants in Canada.

In 2003-04, 107 continuous analyzers/samplers were provided to the provinces and territories to replace aging monitors and supplement existing ones. A public website, which includes an interactive mapping application for viewing and plotting historical trend data for designated National Air Pollution Surveillance Network sites, as well as provincial/territorial and other sites, was launched.

3.1.2 Canadian Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network

The Canadian Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network is a non-urban air quality monitoring network, which has been taking measurements since 1978. There are currently 26 measurement sites in Canada located in remote and relatively pristine areas. One site in the United States ensures compatibility of measurement methods with the Canadian network.

In 2003-04, the network continued to support ozone measurements by providing the background information required for Environment Canada's environmental prediction and air quality forecasts and exchanging data under the Canada - United States Air Quality Agreement Ozone Annex (see Section 7.6.1).

Data have also been collected at selected sites on a wide range of other pollutants, including CEPA toxics such as particulate sulphate, ammonium, nitrate, gaseous sulphur dioxide and nitric acid. One additional measurement site was added in the last year. In excess of 25 000 samples of all types were analyzed in 2003-04 in support of Canadian environmental research initiatives.

3.1.3 Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme

Environment Canada conducted research on spatial and temporal trends of persistent organic pollutants as well as heavy metals in the Canadian circumpolar Arctic. These studies have improved Environment Canada's understanding of the sources, pathways and fates of these chemicals. Environment Canada prepared final reports on Greenland diet samples and temporal trends studies and co-authored papers on contaminants in Greenland. Synopsis reports were also prepared for the Northern Contaminants Program (NCP) on temporal trends of contaminants in seals, arctic char and sediments. Papers were written to discuss spatial trends of metals in seals and spatial/temporal trends of polychlorinated biphenyls in beluga whales. Human monitoring data collected and published under the NCP and the international Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) have allowed Health Canada to show that long-range transport of pollutants into the Arctic has increased human exposure through the traditional marine mammal diet of our Inuit peoples to unacceptable levels. As a follow-up to this, AMAP has been asked by the Arctic Council ministers to prepare another assessment of Arctic contaminants within five years with a greater focus on human health.

3.1.4 Canadian Atmospheric Mercury Measurement Network

The standard operating procedures at the Canadian Atmospheric Mercury Measurement Network (CAMNet) were improved to better detect both particulate and reactive gaseous mercury. This enhancement will help provide a greater understanding of mercury trends and processes in the environment.

A global mercury model continued to be developed to better understand the cycling of mercury and its behaviour in the atmosphere with an increasing emphasis on regional input. The model referred to as Global/Regional Atmospheric Heavy Metals (GRAHM) is useful in identifying the global distribution of mercury emissions and its impact on Canadian air quality.

3.1.5 Water Quality Monitoring

The commitment to better link and expand water quality monitoring networks nationally through the development of a Canada-wide framework on water quality monitoring was addressed by the completion of a comprehensive report on elements and recommendations for such a framework, as well as a successful Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment Water Quality Index workshop. In 2003, Environment Canada developed the Canadian Water Quality Data Referencing Network, which responds to the need for enhanced information access by obtaining and providing web-based information on water quality monitoring activities within the provincial, territorial and federal governments. The network was tested and verified by federal, provincial and territorial partners in 2003. Translation efforts are under way to provide web-based access to the network in 2004-05.

3.1.6 Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network

The Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network provides information from various national and regional monitoring programs, more than 80 long-term integrated ecosystem monitoring sites and a diversity of ecological monitoring initiatives conducted by numerous collaborators at all levels of government, as well as non-governmental organizations, community groups, academia and volunteers. The network enhances Environment Canada's capacity to collect, access, integrate, manage, interpret, apply and deliver sound data and information on ecosystem changes and the presence of CEPA toxics such as mercury. Notable results in 2003-04 included:

  • implementation of a standardized set of ecosystem monitoring protocols in over 200 monitoring stations across Canada, with an additional 17 monitoring plots added in 2003-04;
  • expansion of the network to include 380 partners and associates across Canada - over 140 individuals were trained to use the network's standardized monitoring protocols; and
  • the engagement of 3856 new citizen scientists through NatureWatch, a suite of community-based monitoring programs that provides over 18 000 observations on ecosystem health throughout Canada.

3.1.7 Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network

The Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network (IADN) is a Canada - United States network that monitors concentrations of persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic pollutants in the air and precipitation near the Great Lakes. In 2003-04, the network measured the concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls, several organochlorine pesticides, several polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and trace metals in the atmosphere at several stations located on the shores of all of the Great Lakes. The results show that the lakes are sensitive to atmospheric deposition of toxic chemicals and that concentrations of these compounds are generally decreasing. In addition, data indicate that future reductions of toxic chemical levels in the water will be directly related to decreasing concentrations of these compounds in the atmosphere.

Based on recommendations from an international peer review conducted in 2002 and stakeholder comments, a third Implementation Plan (IP3) for the IADN has been prepared and endorsed by the Binational Executive Committee to cover operation of the network for the years 2005 - 2010. Target activities under IP3 include additional assessment of urban atmospheric inputs to the lakes; improvements to the loadings calculation, including collaboration with modellers; and improved outreach to the media and data users.

3.2 Research

Scientific research is used to evaluate the impact of substances on the environment and human health, determine the extent of exposure to contaminants, guide risk assessments, develop preventive and control measures by identifying pollution prevention and technology solutions and provide specialized sampling and analytical techniques used in compliance promotion and enforcement. Environment Canada and Health Canada scientists published hundreds of articles, reports and papers during this reporting period. The following examples illustrate the types and range of research effort undertaken in 2003-04.


3.2.1 Air

Examples of research results produced in 2003-04 include:

  • Measurement and emissions data on various formulations of bio-diesel were compiled to help decision-makers ensure that new fuels will meet existing and proposed regulatory requirements.
  • Emissions data from diesel locomotives were obtained during field-testing of different fuels and aftermarket emission control technologies. The data will allow North American railroads to develop strategies to reduce emissions.
  • A program was initiated to investigate and develop sampling methodologies to determine the efficiency of control devices treating the releases of ethylene oxide from sterilization facilities. This will support the guideline for the reduction of ethylene oxide from sterilization applications.
  • Continuing research and development in the Canadian Arctic to further improve the understanding of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) involved the use of passive air sampling devices. The devices are designed for use under Arctic conditions to measure the long-range transport of POPs. The passive air samplers were used in trend analyses in the Arctic, which revealed a link between climate fluctuations and POP distribution in North America.
  • Three classes of POPs considered part of the emerging chemicals of interest for future controls - brominated flame retardants (e.g. PBDEs), fluorinated surfactants (e.g. PFOS precursors) and polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCNs) - were studied. Analytical methods have been developed for measuring PBDEs and PFOS precursor compounds in air and used to identify a large indoor/outdoor air gradient.
  • Research and development work to predict the behaviour and distribution of chemicals in the environment revealed that PBDEs are more likely to shift from air to other media such as soil, vegetation and aerosol organic matter. Cold temperatures further lower the concentration of PBDEs in air. This new information will enhance the capability to predict the long-range transport, bioavailability and persistence of these chemicals.
  • Health Canada and Environment Canada have initiated a series of innovative population exposure evaluations to characterize the spatial variability of ambient air pollutants in Windsor, Ontario. The passive spatial monitoring of nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) during each of the four seasons was completed and involved approximately 60 monitors throughout Windsor and the airshed, many of which have been attached to hydro poles. Results from these and other spatial studies will be used to facilitate health research under the Border Air Quality Strategy.

3.2.2 Contaminated Sites

Examples of research results produced in 2003-04 include:

  • Microbial identification and population dynamics in the remediation of contaminated wetlands were assessed using DNA techniques. This information can be used for improving remediation methods and for the regulation of biological products used for bioremediation.
  • Continual monitoring of the sand-capped contaminated sediment in the north part of Hamilton Harbour has shown no upward migration of heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or polychlorinated biphenyls to date, suggesting that the sand-capping approach may be a viable option for managing contaminated sites.
  • New biological testing reference methods were designed to assess the toxicity of contaminants in order to determine the useability of the treated soils.

3.2.3 Hormone-Disrupting Substances

Examples of research results achieved in 2003-04 include:

  • A bioindicator was developed and used to determine the level of exposure of fish to estrogens in the Great Lakes "areas of concern." This indicator of fish health has now been used across Canada. Evidence of endocrine disruption in wild fish populations was confirmed in some areas of concern. Results from these studies will be used to identify appropriate management options.
  • New methods or improved existing methods were developed for the determination of acidic and neutral pharmaceuticals and personal-care products in sewage samples. The analytical methods developed are essential to Environment Canada as well as outside agencies for the study of the occurrence and fate of these compounds in the environment. A database of pharmaceuticals and personal-care products in sewage and sludge samples was also generated, which can be used to develop future guidelines regarding wastewater quality.
  • The presence of estrogens in the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers and their effects on male reproduction in two fish species - the spottail shiner and the walleye - were determined. Physiological consequences associated with exposure to low levels of estrogenic compounds under field conditions include reduced sperm count, reduced sperm mobility, intersex in males and delayed maturation of females.
  • The response of fish to contaminants in effluents was evaluated. Using the knowledge gained from the evaluation, bioassays were developed that will identify reproductive changes and ultimately assist in predicting fish responses to effluent mixtures. Results support the proposed use of the life cycle tests as the definitive laboratory fish bioassay for hormone-disrupting compounds and effluents that may affect fish growth, development and reproduction.
  • Ongoing research examined the neurodevelopmental toxicity of a mixture of persistent pollutants that are characteristic contaminants of the diet of northern peoples and whether such toxicity is mediated by their disruption of thyroid hormone action.
  • Laboratory studies are under way to evaluate developmental neurotoxicity of polybrominated diphenyl ethers. Results will be used to identify hazards associated with exposure in uteroand during lactation.

3.2.4 Technology Development

Examples of research results achieved in 2003-04 include:

  • Pilot-scale advanced wastewater treatment systems were commissioned to investigate removal mechanisms for several toxic pollutants found in municipal effluents. These projects will lead to a better understanding of these compounds and will guide future wastewater technology development.
  • Large-scale applications of Microwave-Assisted ProcessesTM were investigated for their application in reducing energy use, solvent use and greenhouse gas emissions in industrial processing, such as those found in the commodity food oils industry and manufacturing operations. Results obtained indicated that microwave-assisted synthesis applications can lead to energy-use reductions in the order of 95% when taking into account the overall energy production cycle (solvent production, synthesis, purification, solvent removal).
  • Laboratory tests were performed to investigate the possibility of producing and recovering hydrogen gas during the initial phase of the anaerobic digestion process at municipal wastewater treatment plants. This process would offer a low-cost and sustainable technology for producing hydrogen from waste material, which could reduce the reliance on fossil fuels.
  • A collaborative test program with industry was undertaken to develop selective catalytic reduction control technology to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from urban bus engines.
  • Passive air samplers were developed by Environment Canada scientists to assess air concentrations of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) at regional, continental and global scales. This technology puts Canada in a leading position for addressing the monitoring and research obligations outlined in the Stockholm Convention on POPs under the United Nations Environment Programme.
  • A mobile laboratory known as the Canadian Regional and Urban Investigation System for Environmental Research (CRUISER) was developed to measure airborne pollutants. The vehicle is one of the most sophisticated mobile laboratories in the world and is equipped with some of the world's most advanced air quality measurement instrumentation. The CRUISER will take measurements as part of the Border Air Quality Strategy to gain further insight into areas sharing common air quality problems in Canada and the United States.

3.2.5 Toxic Substances

Examples of research results achieved in 2003-04 include:

  • Experiments to forecast particulate matter levels in real- time were undertaken. Models were also used to test and refine the CWS Guidance Document on Achievement Determination, which was based on an emission scenario for Ontario, Quebec and the United States.
  • Investigation of the removal of nonylphenol and other anthropogenic contaminants from industrial and municipal sewage effluents contributed to the risk management of nonylphenol and its ethoxylates.
  • Research on mercury levels in fish in lakes in the Northwest Territories and along the Mackenzie River has shown that elevated mercury levels in fish are related to old fish and small lakes. The management implication of these results suggests that increased fishing effort may be a viable strategy for reducing mercury levels in the average fish by reducing mean fish age and improving growth rates.
  • In March 2003, a workshop was held at Environment Canada in cooperation with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to discuss the current state of science on atmospheric ammonia and initiate cooperative research efforts on emissions, monitoring and modelling of gaseous ammonia as a factor to be considered in the risk management of particulate matter.
  • Measurements of hexachlorobutadiene released mainly from disposal following industrial uses (e.g. heat transfer liquid, hydraulic fluid, solvent) were taken from seven incinerators - four municipal solid waste incinerators (Sydney, Charlottetown, Peel and Burnaby) and three hazardous waste incinerators (St. Ambroise, Mercier and Corunna). The data were used to assess the efficiency of the incinerators and compare the releases with National Pollutant Release Inventory testing estimates submitted by reporters.
  • Emissions of 2-butoxyethanol, used mainly as a solvent for formulations in paints and coatings, inks and cleaning products and to a lesser extent as an additive to hydraulic fluids and in the chemical processing for plasticizers and other compounds, were measured from 30 consumer products. The results will support the risk management of this substance.
  • Screening studies were conducted to identify some of the pathways and to determine the releases of hexachlorobenzene (HCB) from polymer resins used in solenoid valve casings into the environment. These data were also utilized by Health Canada to assess the impact of HCB releases in the workplace.

3.2.6 Wildlife

Examples of research results conducted in 2003-04 include:

  • Mercury contamination in the Arctic was determined using eggs of seabirds (thick-billed murre, northern fulmar and black-tailed kittiwake) as indicators. Mercury in eggs collected in 2003 showed that levels continue to increase since the program began in 1975. Results were reported to the Northern Contaminants Program, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the United Nations Environment Programme.
  • The levels of lead in hatch-year ducks in Canada have decreased substantially since the implementation of the Non- Toxic Shot Amendments to the Wildlife Area Regulations and Migratory Birds Regulations, suggesting that the Regulations have had their intended effects.
  • Studies using rodents provided evidence that exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) may lead to behavioural disturbances, disruptions in normal thyroid hormone activity and liver effects (PBDEs are used primarily as a flame retardant in a wide variety of consumer goods, such as hairdryers, televisions, computers, furniture upholstery and cushioning).

3.2.7 Ecosystem Initiatives Atlantic Coastal Action Program

The Atlantic Coastal Action Program is a community-based program that includes a network of 14 ecosystem-based organizations across the four Atlantic provinces. Since the program began in 1991, these groups have undertaken hundreds of projects involving diverse partners and thousands of volunteers. Science and monitoring projects have supported informed decision-making, linking scientists with communities and science with other forms of information. Examples of research conducted in 2003-04 include:

  • Remedial action work focused on improving the methodology used to quantify environmental concentrations of creosote, which is used in Canada as a heavy-duty wood preservative for railway ties, bridge timbers, pilings and large-sized lumber and is composed of hundreds of compounds, the largest group being the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Assessment of creosote contamination migrating from Marsh Creek into Saint John Harbour indicated high variability in water-borne concentrations of creosote, which led to an additional six creosote passive recovery devices being installed and tested.
  • An analysis of mercury in water and sediments and heavy metals, dioxins and furans in sediments and fish conducted in the Madawaska River showed a few samples with elevated levels of metals. Follow-up tests are planned.
  • In partnership with Environment Canada, the Bedeque Bay Environmental Management Association has been involved in a three-year project to monitor water quality and toxicity of agricultural runoff from potato fields in Prince Edward Island to determine the effectiveness of buffer zones in reducing the content of contaminants such as ammonia nitrates in runoff. The results of the study indicated that a 10-metre buffer is effective at reducing pesticide concentrations but less effective in reducing the toxicity of the runoff.
?lang=En&n=B85A3121-11&referer=sitemap St. Lawrence Action Plan, Vision 2000

Phase III of the St. Lawrence Vision 2000 Action Plan started in 1998 and ended in March 2003. Phase III had three main objectives: to protect ecosystem health; to protect human health; and to involve communities along the St. Lawrence River in restoring the uses of the river and making the river more accessible. A new 2004-2009 Canada-Quebec agreement on the St. Lawrence should be signed soon. Examples of research conducted in 2003-04 include:

  • Knowledge acquired about the toxicity of municipal effluents led to the identification of promising courses of action to promote the reduction of industrial pollution at source, particularly by small and medium-sized enterprises connected to municipal wastewater treatment plants.
  • A project was initiated to review the existing sediment quality criteria. The data accumulated over the last 10 years are being taken into account, as well as the measurement of background levels in the St. Lawrence and recent data on the toxicity of clays in the Champlain Sea.
  • Environment Canada helped to complete the development of restoration plans to secure 16 000 cubic metres of extremely contaminated sediments in the mouth of the St. Louis River - a tributary of the St. Lawrence River - and over 40 000 cubic metres of sediments contaminated with hydrocarbons and metals from a bay at the Port of Montreal (sector 103). Great Lakes

Great Lakes 2000 was formally launched in 1989 as the Great Lakes Action Plan to fulfill Canada's commitments under the 1972 Canada - U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement to protect and sustain the world's largest freshwater ecosystem.

Activities for improving the environment focus on restoring degraded areas, reducing and preventing pollution and protecting human and ecosystem health. Examples of research conducted in 2003-04 include:

  • A number of studies by Canada and Ontario are under way to investigate the occurrence and fate of several CEPA toxics, which includes hormone-disrupting substances and fire retardants, as well as other emerging chemicals of concern, such as pharmaceuticals and veterinary drugs.
  • Environment Canada has initiated studies to evaluate the effects of toxic chemicals and effluents on thyroid and retinoid function and is also reassessing Great Lakes fish health to determine if there is evidence of biological effects from hormone disruption. Georgia Basin Action Plan

The federal-provincial Georgia Basin Action Plan (2003-2008), was announced on April 2, 2003, and is a renewal of the Georgia Basin Ecosystem Initiative (1998-2003). Examples of research conducted in 2003-04 include:

  • A research and monitoring plan for 20 substances of priority concern in the Georgia Basin was developed with implementation of the priority research and monitoring areas to be undertaken over the next four years.
  • An emissions inventory of over 200 hazardous air pollutants was under way in order to develop a list of air pollutants for decision-makers in the Lower Fraser Valley to address emissions.
  • Studies were conducted on the effects on salmonid and amphibian early life stages from exposure to effluents from a Vancouver area wastewater treatment plant, which included hormone-disrupting substances and galaxlolide, a common fragrance found in many soaps and shampoos. The effects of this exposure to galaxlolide continue to be studied. Northern Ecosystem Initiative

In October 2003, Environment Canada announced a five-year contribution of $10 million to improve environmental decision- making in Canada's North. This funding renewed the Northern Ecosystem Initiative program which supports research activities to enhance the health and sustainability of communities and ecosystems across Canada's North. Examples of research conducted in 2003-04 include:

  • An investigation of linkages between mercury levels in Arctic ecosystems and climate warming was undertaken. Initial results suggest that there is a linkage supporting the assumption that one consequence of the warming predicted for the Arctic is the potential for increased mobilization and bioavailability of heavy metals such as mercury. It was also found that forest fires may play a role in the fractionation of stable isotopes of mercury and thus help explain measured increases in northern lakes.
  • The development of a web-based Metadata Inventory for Labrador provides a central location for information on past and current contaminants projects. As well, work began on developing a cooperative approach for setting future priorities for research, monitoring and assessment of contaminants in Labrador (

3.3 Guidelines and Codes of Practice

3.3.1 Environmental Quality Objectives

In 2003, a document entitled Guidance on the Site-Specific Application of Water Quality Guidelines in Canada: Procedures for Deriving Numerical Water Quality Objectives was published. This report provides scientific and technical guidance on the development of site-specific water quality objectives and discusses their role in the management of Canada's water resources.

3.3.2 Environmental Quality Guidelines

In 2003-04, two Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines, developed under the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, were finalized, and 20 others were under development (see Table 1). The Sediment Quality Index is expected to provide for consistent reporting on sediment quality based on a suite of sediment quality guidelines.

Table 1: Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines from March 2003 to April 2004
In progress
WaterMercury** (inorganic and methyl);
methyl tertiary butyl ether
alcohol ethoxylates*; aluminum; dimethenamid; diisopropanolamine*; guidance framework for the management of phosphorus in freshwater systems; imidacloprid; marine eutrophication guidance framework; permethrin; phosphorus ecoregion guidelines for Ontario; sulfolane*; uranium
SedimentN/Asediment quality index
SoilN/Abenzene**; carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons**; diisopropanolamine*; ethylbenzene; propylene glycol; sulfolane*; toluene; uranium; xylenes

* In partnership with industry
** Toxic under CEPA 1999

3.3.3 Drinking Water Quality Guidelines

In 2003-04, Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality continued to be developed by the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water. Guidelines for trichloroethylene and for enteric viruses were approved for public consultation, while work is ongoing for other guidelines, including arsenic, trihalomethanes, bromodichloromethane, chlorite/chlorate, haloacetic acids and corrosion control.

3.3.4 Release Guidelines

Guidelines for the reduction of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions in the wood furniture manufacturing sector were developed under the authority of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment in January 2004. The overall goal of these guidelines is to achieve a maximum reduction of VOC emissions from the wood furniture manufacturing sector in Canada while conforming to the principle of best available technologies economically achievable. These guidelines are meant to provide a basis for provincial and regional governments in developing management instruments to achieve their own specific VOC emission reduction objectives.

3.3.5 Codes of Practice

Two codes of practice were finalized (see Appendix A):

  • Code of Practice for the Reduction of Dichloromethane Emissions from the Use of Paint Strippers in Commercial Furniture Refinishing and Other Stripping Applications - The code of practice, published on April 16, 2003, provides guidance for commercial paint stripping operations regarding actions that can serve to reduce emissions and use of dichloromethane.

Codes of Practice

  • Code of Practice for the Environmental Management of Road Salts - Published on April 3, 2004, the code is designed to help municipalities and other road authorities better manage their use of road salts in a way that reduces harm to the environment while maintaining road safety. It recommends that road authorities develop salt management plans and implement best management practices.

3.4 State of the Environment Reporting

State of the environment reports and environmental indicators provide Canadians with timely and accurate information, in a non- technical manner, about current environmental issues and foster the use of science in policy- and decision-making. Indicators, reports, data and tools are housed at or referenced through Environment Canada's State of the Environment Infobase.

3.4.1 Environmental Indicators

In 2003-04, Environment Canada published two indicator reports:

  • Environmental Signals: Canada's National Environmental Indicator Series 2003 - This report depicts trends in the environment through the use of 55 environmental indicators, organized under four themes: ecological life-support systems; human health and well-being; natural resources sustainability; and human activities (
  • Environmental Signals: Headline Indicators 2003 - This report highlights a set of 12 key indicators that are aimed at providing a broad overview of trends in Canada's environment in areas that are important to Canadians, such as toxic substances, air quality, solid waste and recycling and wastewater treatment (

3.4.2 Regional Reports

Environmental indicator and state of the environment reports were also released or completed for several ecosystems in Canada during 2003-04:

  • Georgia Basin Ecosystem Initiative: a 5-Year Perspective - This report provides updates on the four key goals of the initiative: supporting sustainable communities; achieving clean air; conserving and protecting habitats and species; and achieving clean water ( In April 2003, Environment Canada supported the renewal of the Georgia Basin Ecosystem Initiative, to be renamed the Georgia Basin Action Plan (
  • State of the Great Lakes 2003 - This fifth biennial report issued by the governments of Canada and the United States assesses the environmental status of each Great Lake, the St. Lawrence River, and the St. Clair - Detroit River Ecosystem and provides assessments on 43 indicators (
  • St. Lawrence Vision 2000 Five-Year Report 1998-2003 - This report describes the extensive results achieved in each of the areas of action in Phase III of the program, including monitoring, sustainable shipping and almost 100 technology transfer and development projects.

3.4.3 Environmental Indicators and State of the Environment Reporting Strategy

In response to the challenge of managing and sharing knowledge creatively to better serve Canadians, Environment Canada is preparing a report entitled Environmental Indicators and State of the Environment Reporting Strategy, 2004-2009: Environment Canada. Throughout 2003, there were internal and public consultations on the strategy. Two supporting documents were drafted: Current Status, Trends, and Perceptions regarding Environmental Indicators and State of the Environment Reporting in Canada and Environmental Indicators and State of the Environment Reporting: An Overview for Canada.

3.4.4 Canadian Sustainability Indicators Network

Environment Canada is leading the development of the Canadian Sustainability Indicators Network. This network is facilitating the exchange of knowledge and information on activities and best practices for the development and delivery of indicators and reporting among federal departments, provinces, regions, communities and non-governmental organizations. A national meeting was held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in November 2003, under the theme of "mixing strategic thinking and knowledge sharing." Several virtual learning workshops have been held over the Internet, bringing together practitioners from across Canada.

3.5 Information Gathering

3.5.1 National Pollutant Release Inventory

The National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) provides Canadians with access to pollutant release and management information from companies located in their communities. The NPRI tracks releases to air, water and land, transfers to disposal facilities and recycling and pollution prevention activities for over 300 pollutants, such as mercury, dioxins and furans, hexachlorobenzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Changes made in 2003 for the 2004 reporting year include the addition of carbonyl sulphide and phosphorus (total) to the inventory and changes to the listings for nonylphenols and octylphenols. As of 2003, reporting is also required on the releases of individual volatile organic compound species from a list of 60 selected compounds. In addition, the reporting exemptions were modified so that releases from oil and gas wells are now subject to reporting.

A web-based "toolbox" and a guidance document were made available in 2003 to improve assistance to facilities on the reporting process. These tools highlight important changes to reporting, explain the reporting requirements and provide methods for estimating releases.

3.5.2 Greenhouse Gas Reporting

As a significant step towards meeting international obligations and domestic climate change objectives, Environment Canada instituted the first phase of mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions. On March 13, 2004, an information-gathering notice was issued, requiring major emitters of greenhouse gases to report emissions of greenhouse gases for 2004 by June 1, 2005. Facilities emitting an amount greater than or equal to 100 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2004 are required to report. Statistics Canada is the data collection agency, while the Greenhouse Gas Division of Environment Canada will be responsible for addressing enquiries of a technical nature. This first phase lays the foundation for the development of a harmonized and efficient "single-window" mandatory reporting system for greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. The information collected on greenhouse gas emissions will be published and accessible by Canadians.

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