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ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report April 1998 to March 1999

Section 1: Overview of CEPA Implementation, 1998-99

"It is hereby declared that the protection of the environment is essential to the well-being of Canada...." These words, which are the first words of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), set the context for the 149 sections that follow. Canada's environmental protection is the essential purpose of the law.

Implementation of CEPA involves the following cycle of activities:

  • Research and development - The starting point for CEPA activity is science. Science informs decisions about how to classify a substance, what types of measures are possible and what may be required to protect the environment. Hand in hand with this science are technological developments and new approaches to measuring impacts and preventing pollution. The first part of this Annual Report provides a review of some of the year's significant scientific and technological achievements. We cannot include them all! Environment Canada and Health Canada scientists published over 300 reports, papers, book chapters and other materials, which document only a portion of their research work.

  • Policy development/consultation - With research results in hand, we are able to work with stakeholders to determine how best to manage certain substances and what kinds of controls are required. Involving other government departments, other jurisdictions, industry and non-governmental organizations in this process has proved to be an excellent way of doing business. We can explain the scientific assessment of a substance, increase awareness and understanding of the issues involved, learn more about the real-world factors at play and then work towards a consensus on recommendations for action. The results contribute to an improved implementation process.

  • Implementation - CEPA provides a variety of mechanisms for achieving the goal of environmental protection. Objectives and guidelines, covered in Part I, set benchmarks, while enforcement options, covered in Part VII, provide penalties for the failure to comply with the law and its regulations. We continue to explore ways to ensure that controls and limits on the use or release of toxic substances are respected.

  • Feedback - Again, science helps us to assess the effect of the measures that have been taken. Are the controls working? What else needs to be done? Is there an acceptable level of compliance with guidelines, or do regulations need to be put in place? Monitoring the state of the environment and reporting on it so that stakeholders can participate in the evaluation of current efforts are other essential CEPA-related activities.

Environment Canada administers CEPA on behalf of the federal government and shares with Health Canada the task of assessing and managing the risks associated with toxic substances.

It is clear that the work undertaken in the context of CEPA is extremely broad. There are, in fact, many challenges associated with reporting on CEPA in any given fiscal year. The enormous volume of work to consider for the Annual Report means that difficult decisions have to be made about what to include. As well, it is sometimes hard to distinguish between departmental activity related to CEPA and other departmental accomplishments. Finally, many projects run over several years, as they move through the research and development → policy development/ consultation → implementation → feedback cycle. At what stage do they go from being a work-in-progress to becoming an "achievement", the successfully completed phase in a project that warrants a line or two in this report?

The pages that follow can therefore provide you with only a snapshot of CEPA accomplishments in 1998-99.

  • Section 2 presents information on the implementation of each of CEPA's seven major parts.

  • Section 3 details some of the work that the Department has done to get ready for the passage of Bill C-32 and the implementation of the renewed CEPA.

  • Section 4 provides resource information.

We encourage readers to refer to the web sites referenced throughout this Annual Report for more information about items of interest to them.

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