Planning for a Sustainable Future:
A Federal Sustainable Development Strategy for Canada

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Sustainable Development Office
Environment Canada

October 2010

Clean air is essential to human health
Asthma, lung cancer, and other respiratory illnesses have been linked to poor air quality. The young, the elderly and those with other acute illnesses are more greatly affected by poor air quality. The air pollutant particulate matter (PM2.5) has been associated with hospitalizations, increased respiratory and cardiovascular mortality, asthma exacerbation, decreased lung function, inflammation and changes in heart rate variability (Health Canada, 2008). In 2004, respiratory illnesses such as asthma, pneumonia and acute respiratory infections accounted for 9.5% of all health care expenditures in Canada (CIHI, 2004), making it the third most expensive factor in patient care in the health care system (surpassed only by circulatory system diseases and care due to injury or poisoning). In 2009, 8.1% of Canadians 12 years and older reported they had been diagnosed with asthma by a health professional. This rate did not significantly change from 2001 to 2009 (Statistics Canada, 2010c).


What is a Strategic Environmental Assessment?
SEA is a key analytical tool used by the federal government to support environmentally sustainable decision-making. It evaluates the environmental effects of a proposed policy, plan, or program and its alternatives, and informs strategic decision-making through a careful analysis of environmental risks and opportunities. For more information on SEAs visit


What is Corporate Social Responsibility?
Corporate social responsibility is generally defined as the voluntary activities undertaken by a company to operate in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner. CSR includes transparent and responsible behaviour that contributes to sustainable development and takes into account the expectations of stakeholders, including local communities.


Supporting a transition to sustainable patterns of consumption and production (SCP) is an environmental, social, and economic objective defined as the use of goods and services that respond to basic needs and bring a better quality of life while minimizing the use of natural resources, toxic materials and emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle, so as not to jeopardize the needs of future generations.(Environment Canada, 2006)  SCP is widely considered to be key to making progress towards sustainable development and is integral to developing a "green economy."  Pursuant to commitments made in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2002, Canada agreed to implement measures towards SCP and to participate in the United Nations-led Marrakech Process.  Canada has also committed to working with the United States to establish a ten-year framework of programs to make progress towards SCP in North America, namely, to make an effort to “green” our  economies;  help corporations develop greener business models; and encourage consumers to adopt more sustainable lifestyles.


The Federal Sustainable Development Act commits the government to making environmental decision-making more transparent and accountable to Parliament. In the interests of clarity of interpretation, the following definitions are provided:

Transparency: the process of ensuring open access to timely, clear, and easy-to-understand information about decisions, policies, practices, and operations (OAG, 2004a; OAG, 2004b). 

Accountability: an obligation to answer to Parliament for an action or accomplishments in terms of the results obtained, significance of the results, and the means used to achieve them, in light of agreed-upon expectations (OAG, 2004b; City of Kitchener, 2007).


What is the Expenditure Management System (EMS)?
The EMS provides the economic planning procedures at the heart of the federal government operations. The system helps to match budget with priorities, oversees spending, and establishes the policies that departments will follow to manage and deliver their programs (OAG, 2006). It consists of two reports:

Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP)
The RPP outlines activities and expenditures for each department and agency. It outlines, over a three year period, an organization's priorities and where it will get the resources to act on those priorities.

Departmental Performance Report (DPR)
The DPR provides an overview of the accomplishments achieved by the organization compared to what it proposed in the RPP.



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