Help the Government of Canada organize its website!

Complete an anonymous 5-minute questionnaire. Start now.

Skip booklet index and go to page content

CEPA 1999 Annual Report for April 2010 to March 2011


1 Administration (Part 1)

Part 1 of CEPA 1999 requires the ministers to establish the National Advisory Committee, composed of one representative for the federal Minister of the Environment and one for the federal Minister of Health, representatives from each province and territory, and not more than six representatives of Aboriginal governments from across Canada.

Part 1 allows the Minister of the Environment to negotiate an agreement with a provincial or territorial government, or an Aboriginal people, with respect to the administration of the Act. It also allows for equivalency agreements, which suspend federal regulations in a province or territory that has equivalent regulatory provisions.

1.1 National Advisory Committee

The National Advisory Committee advises the ministers on certain actions taken under the Act, enables national cooperative action, and seeks to avoid duplication in regulatory activity among governments. The Committee serves as a single window in working with provincial and territorial governments and representatives of Aboriginal governments on consultations and offers to consult.

To carry out its duties in 2010–2011, the CEPA National Advisory Committee (NAC) held one teleconference meeting and the NAC Secretariat corresponded regularly with committee members regarding various federal initiatives implemented under CEPA 1999. These initiatives included:

  • updates on the implementation of Canada's Chemicals Management Plan (CMP), including various risk assessment and risk management activities of the CMP;
  • the development and publication of Passenger Automobile and Light Truck Greenhouse Gas Emissions Regulations;
  • the proposed Regulations Amending the Tetrachloroethylene (Use in Dry Cleaning and Reporting Requirements) Regulations;
  • the publication of the Renewable Fuels Regulations and of the Marine Spark-Ignition Engine, Vessel and Off-Road Recreational Vehicle Emission Regulations;
  • consultations related to proposed amendments to the Storage Tank Systems for Petroleum Products and Allied Petroleum Products Regulations and to the proposed amendments to the Renewable Fuels Regulations;
  • a request for comments on the proposed Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made under Subsection 93(1) of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999;
  • the coming into force of the bulk of the Environmental Enforcement Act (Bill C-16);
  • the publication plan for the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) tailings and waste rock data and the 2010 Canada Gazette Notice for the NPRI;
  • an update on the regulatory framework for the transboundary movement of waste and hazardous recyclable materials;
  • an update regarding agreements and regulations on the notification of environmental occurrences under the CEPA 1999 and the Fisheries Act;
  • teleconference meetings on activities carried out under the CMP and the Challenge Program and on the Canadian Health Measures Survey Cycle 1 Biomonitoring Data Release;
  • the Regulations Amending the PCB (Polychlorinated Biphenyl) Regulations;
  • intergovernmental negotiating committee meetings to prepare a global legally binding instrument on mercury;
  • information on international meetings such as the Conference of the Parties of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants; and
  • other risk management activities, such as developing, amending or repealing regulations; pollution prevention plans; guidelines and codes of practice; proposed options for managing risks to the environment and human health; and other issues related to CEPA 1999.

1.2 Canada–Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem

Since 1971, Canada and Ontario have worked together through the Canada–Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem. This agreement, now extended to June 2012, guides the efforts of Canada and Ontario in achieving a healthy, prosperous and sustainable Great Lakes Basin ecosystem for present and future generations, and is the principal mechanism for meeting Canada's obligations under the Canada–United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The 2007–2012 Canada–Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem comprises 13 goals, 37 results and 189 specific commitments in four priority areas:

  • designated Areas of Concern (AOCs1) in the Great Lakes Basin;
  • harmful pollutants;
  • lake and basin sustainability; and
  • coordination of monitoring, research and information.

Annex 1: The AOC Annex

Annex 1 comprises two goals, described below.

The first goal is to complete priority actions for delisting four Canadian AOCs (Nipigon Bay, Jackfish Bay, Wheatley Harbour, and St. Lawrence River (Cornwall)). In 2010–2011, all of the remaining priority remedial actions in these AOCs had either been completed or the necessary funding commitments were made to projects being implemented. Following the International Joint Commission's review of the Wheatley Harbour Remedial Action Plan Stage 3 Report in 2009, Wheatley Harbour was de-listed by Canada as an AOC in April 2010. In the Nipigon Bay AOC, upgrades continued at the Nipigon Bay wastewater treatment plant and the community of Red Rock initiated an evaluation and environmental assessment of wastewater treatment plant upgrade options. The project to upgrade the Cornwall wastewater treatment plant in the St. Lawrence AOC is expected to be completed by September 2014. Canada and Ontario determined that Jackfish Bay is now an Area in Recovery (an area where all required remedial actions have been taken, but time is needed for the ecosystem to recover), which was formally recognized in May 2011.

The second COA Annex 1 goal is to make significant progress toward Remedial Action Plan implementation, environmental recovery, and restoration of beneficial uses in the other 11 Canadian AOCs. In 2010–2011, the Canadian Detroit River AOC Stage 2 Remedial Action Plan Report and the Canadian Niagara River AOC Remedial Action Plan Stage 2 Update Report were accepted by Canada and Ontario and submitted to the International Joint Commission for review and comment pursuant to the requirements of the Canada–United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

Through the Great Lakes Action Plan's Great Lakes Sustainability Fund, projects were carried out in collaboration with other stakeholders to (1) improve water quality by controlling point and nonpoint sources of contamination, (2) restore fish habitat and wildlife habitat, and (3) characterize contaminated sediment and develop contaminated sediment management plans in AOCs. The projects included the development and implementation of stewardship plans and programs to reduce nutrient inputs to watercourses from urban and rural non-point sources in the Bay of Quinte, Niagara River, St. Lawrence River (Cornwall), Hamilton Harbour, Toronto Region, St. Clair River and Detroit River AOCs; the development and integration of pollution prevention and control plans for municipalities bordering the Bay of Quinte; the restoration of wetlands and/or habitat in Cootes Paradise and Grindstone Creek in the Hamilton Harbour AOC, the central Windsor waterfront in the Detroit River AOC and in the headwaters wetlands of the Toronto Region AOC; and the development and evaluation of options to remediate contaminated sediments in the Thunder Bay, St. Clair River, Peninsula Harbour and St. Marys River AOCs.

Annex 2: The Harmful Pollutants Annex

Annex 2 addresses both past (“legacy”) and ongoing sources of pollution in the Great Lakes Basin. Annex 2 takes a substance- and/or sector-based approach to reducing and preventing releases throughout the basin, with a goal to virtually eliminate persistent bioaccumulative toxic substances. Environment Canada's efforts to assess and manage the risks posed by commercial chemicals under the CMP support the delivery of Annex 2 commitments.

A new commitment to facilitate information sharing between Canada and Ontario's respective chemical management plans was developed for the 2011–2012 extension of the Canada–Ontario Agreement.

Efforts also include actions undertaken by the Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy (GLBTS), a public-private collaborative arrangement between Environment Canada, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and stakeholders to reduce environmental releases of designated Level 1 substances, including mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins and furans, hexachlorobenzene and benzo(a)pyrene.

The GLBTS released its 2009 biennial report documenting achievements made and actions taken to reduce the use and release of GLBTS Level 1 substances.  Fourteen of the GLBTS's 17 “challenge goals” have been met. The report also highlights new activities focused on emerging substances of concern and presents environmental trends in GLBTS substances using data collected by Great Lakes monitoring and surveillance programs.

Canada continued to monitor levels of dioxins in the environment, maintained a dioxin release inventory, collaborated with the United States to reduce uncontrolled combustion sources such as burn barrels, and is nearing completion of a national modeling study to better understand the transboundary impacts associated with dioxin and furan releases from North American and global sources.

Wastewater treatment research was initiated by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Environment Canada, University of Windsor, City of Windsor, University of Waterloo, University of Guelph, University of Trent, Université Laval, University of Victoria, and University of British Columbia. Investigations included the ecological impacts of wastewaters treated by conventional and advanced technologies at pilot and full-scale facilities. Efficacy of treatment is being assessed through chemical analyses for both conventional substances (nutrients and metals) and chemicals of emerging concern such as pharmaceuticals, nonylphenol, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). Toxicological analyses of treated wastewater comprised a suite of biological indicators. The indicators selected included fish, invertebrates and algae. In addition, in vitro micro-scale tests were conducted to determine whether substances in wastewater have the potential to produce endocrine-disrupting effects in organisms.

With financial contributions from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Environment Canada, and in consultation with Health Canada, EcoSuperior extended its distribution of information about the safe disposal of medicines to four Lake Superior basin communities (Nipigon, Terrace Bay, Marathon, Wawa), and residents of Thunder Bay. Outreach activities included the distribution of posters and leaflets to various medical support groups, displays in all targeted communities, and the delivery of “Medicine Cabinet Clean Up” collection bags to 55 000 households. EcoSuperior also increased awareness of the hazards of burning garbage in the rural townships around Thunder Bay through presentations at council meetings, flyers distributed with burning permits, and an article in resident newsletters.

Finally, work continued on the development of a Canadian framework to identify and prioritize chemical substances of concern in the Great Lakes. This framework will inform the development and implementation of a binational mechanism to address these chemical threats to the Great Lakes.

Annex 3

Environment Canada worked to achieve commitments under Annex 3 of the Canada–Ontario Agreement to restore beneficial uses in open lake waters through Lakewide Management Plan activities. Stakeholders were actively engaged through participation in the development and updating of these plans. Monitoring and surveillance work also continued with the objective of gaining a better understanding of the state of and trends in the Great Lakes ecosystem.

Environment Canada, in collaboration with the U.S. EPA, regularly reports on the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem using a suite of ecological indicators. In 2010–2011, a review of the Great Lakes indicator suite was completed. This included a separate review by an independent panel of indicator experts as well as contributions by staff from over 30 organizations. The result was a new organizational framework for the indicators, new indicator categories and some changes to indicators in the suite. Reporting on the ecological health of the Great Lakes Basin using the revised suite of indicators will begin at the State of the Great Lakes Ecosystem Conference set for October 2011, followed by the release of the State of the Great Lakes reports in 2012.

Environment Canada, with the U.S. EPA, co-chairs binational lakewide management plans under the Canada–United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The management plans identify binational ecological objectives and management strategies, including scientific priorities for data collection to fill knowledge gaps in ecosystem status and trends. In 2010–2011, a number of Lakewide Management Plan reports and activities were undertaken:

  • The first annual Lakewide Management Plan reports were published for each of the Great Lakes.

  • The final draft of the Lake Superior Aquatic Invasive Species Complete Prevention Plan was completed, following public workshops that were held throughout the basin to promote the plan and gather input. The purpose of the plan is to prevent new aquatic invasive species from entering and becoming established in Lake Superior.

  • The International Biodiversity Conservation Strategy for Lake Huron was finalized following a two-year conservation action planning process that engaged more than 100 organizations from around the Lake Huron watershed. The conservation strategy identifies conservation features that represent the biodiversity of Lake Huron, ranks critical threats and recommends strategies and opportunities for implementation.

  • The final draft of the Lake Erie Binational Nutrient Management Strategy was completed. The strategy defines the goals, objectives, targets, indicators, priority watersheds, monitoring and research needed to limit further eutrophication and improve current conditions in Lake Erie.

  • Environment Canada continued to participate in a number of key Canadian watershed and coastal initiatives, including the Lake Huron Southeast Shore and Southern Georgian Bay Coastal Initiatives, and the Grand River Water Management Plan. These initiatives seek to develop mechanisms for the protection and restoration of lakes Huron and Erie, respectively.

Great Lakes and Regional Environmental Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Program

The binational Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative (CSMI) is a five-year rotational program that coordinates research and monitoring from planning through to data synthesis and reporting. Coordinated field activities occur on each lake once every five years. The complete cycle for each lake involves two years of planning, one year of field activity and two years of analysis, synthesis and reporting. Starting with Lake Huron, in 2012, issues affecting the connecting channels will be included in the assessment of the downstream lakes to the extent these issues affect the lake. The following activities occurred under the CSMI in 2010–2011:

  • A special session on Lake Ontario (field year 2008) was held at the 2010 conference of the International Association of Great Lakes Research. The focus of the Lake Ontario program included understanding nearshore-offshore nutrient transport, the status of the offshore lower food web, a lakewide fishery assessment, and the use of biomarkers to identify food-web changes.
  • The 2009 intensive field year for Lake Erie was extended into 2010 to assess the impact of invasive species on nutrient transport from nearshore to offshore in the central and eastern basins of the lake.
  • Planning continued for Lake Superior (field year 2011). Two key priorities have been identified: (a) the status of Lake Superior chemicals of concern and chemicals of immediate concern to the ecosystem, and (b) the status of the lower food web, the early detection of aquatic invasive species, and a study of native fish species in the lake, including a lakewide juvenile Lake Sturgeon index survey.
  • Lake Huron (field year 2012) is in the issue identification year. A binational planning workshop was held in Tobermory, Ontario, in October 2010, with a follow-up workshop in Burlington in November 2010. The identified scientific priorities will be sent to the Lakewide Management Plan Management Committee for vetting and prioritization. 

1.3 Canada–Quebec Administrative Agreement

Administrative agreements concerning the pulp and paper sector have been in place between Quebec and the Government of Canada since 1994. The fourth agreement expired on March 31, 2007. On June 13, 2009, the proposed Canada–Quebec Pulp and Paper and Metal Mining Sectors Administrative Agreement was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I. The parties have continued to cooperate, in keeping with the spirit of the draft agreement.

The proposed agreement recognizes Quebec as the principal interlocutor for receiving, from the pulp and paper and metal mining sectors, most of the data and information required pursuant to the following four federal regulations:

  • Pulp and Paper Mill Effluent Chlorinated Dioxins and Furans Regulations made pursuant to CEPA 1999;
  • Pulp and Paper Mill Defoamer and Wood Chip Regulations made pursuant to CEPA 1999;
  • Pulp and Paper Effluent Regulations made pursuant to the Fisheries Act; and
  • Metal Mining Effluent Regulations made pursuant to the Fisheries Act.

Under the agreement, the province acts as a “single window” for gathering regulatory information from Quebec pulp and paper manufacturers and forwards such information to Environment Canada to help the Department implement CEPA 1999 and the Fisheries Act, as well as their regulations. Both levels of government retain full responsibility for carrying out inspections and investigations and for taking appropriate enforcement measures in order to ensure compliance with their respective requirements.

During this reporting period, more than 80 reports produced by pulp and paper facilities in Quebec were examined against the two regulations pursuant to CEPA 1999. These administrative inspections verified that the facilities were in compliance with the applicable regulations. As well, both parties shared compliance verification reports. These presentations are made during meetings of the management committee established by the agreement. In 2010–2011, the management committee met three times, on October 21, 2010, on November 15, 2010, and on March 30, 2011.

1.4 Canada–Saskatchewan Administrative Agreement

The Canada–Saskatchewan Administrative Agreement, in force since September 1994, is a work-sharing arrangement covering certain provincial legislation and seven CEPA 1999 regulations, including two regulations related to the pulp and paper sector, two regulations on ozone-depleting substances, and two regulations on PCBs. There were no prosecutions under these regulations in Saskatchewan under this agreement in 2010–2011.

1.5 Canada–Alberta Equivalency Agreement

CEPA 1999 provides for equivalency agreements where provincial or territorial environmental legislation has provisions that are equivalent to the CEPA 1999 provisions. The intent is to eliminate the duplication of environmental regulations.

Under the 1994 Agreement on the Equivalency of Federal and Alberta Regulations for the Control of Toxic Substances, the following CEPA 1999 regulations, or parts thereof, do not apply in Alberta:

  • Pulp and Paper Mill Effluent Chlorinated Dioxins and Furans Regulations (all sections);
  • Pulp and Paper Mill Defoamer and Wood Chip Regulations (4(1), 6(2), 6(3)(b), 7 and 9);
  • Secondary Lead Smelter Release Regulations (all sections); and
  • Vinyl Chloride Release Regulations, 1992 (all sections).

There are no longer any operating vinyl chloride plants or lead smelters in Alberta, and therefore no compliance issues to report under the Vinyl Chloride Release Regulations or the Secondary Lead Smelter Release Regulations.

The Canada–Alberta Agreement is currently under review. Until its renewal, Environment Canada and Alberta Environment continue to work together in the spirit of the agreement.

Alberta Environment indicated that, in 2010–2011, there were no reported violations by the four pulp and paper mills regulated under the pulp and paper regulations.

1.6 Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Cooperation in Atlantic Canada

On June 6, 2008, the Minister of the Environment signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Cooperation in Atlantic Canadawith the ministers of the environment of the four Atlantic provinces. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) represents a significant federal-provincial collaborative effort to preserve, protect and enhance the environment in Atlantic Canada.

In 2010–2011, a water annex and an associated work plan were developed, in cooperation with provincial partners, focusing on the goals of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment's (CCME) recently developed document titled Setting Strategic Directions for Water. An environmental enforcement annex was also developed. Through a work plan supporting this annex, the parties will work toward establishing arrangements and protocols for environmental enforcement, focusing on training, information sharing and operational support.

1.7 Environmental Occurrences Notification Agreements

Federal, provincial and territorial laws require, in most cases, notification of the same environmental emergency or environmental occurrence, such as an oil or chemical spill. To reduce duplication of effort, Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada entered into environmental occurrences notification agreements with the governments of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, the Northwest Territories, and Yukon.

These notification agreements came into effect on March 25, 2011, on the day the Release and Environmental Emergency Notification Regulations under CEPA 1999 and the Deposit out of the Normal Course of Events Notification Regulations under the Fisheries Act came into force.

The purpose of the notification agreements is to establish a streamlined notification system for persons required to notify federal and provincial/territorial governments of an environmental emergency or environmental occurrence. Under these notification agreements, 24-hour authorities operating for the provinces and territories receive notifications of environmental emergencies or environmental occurrences, on behalf of Environment Canada, and transfer this information to the Department.


1 An Area of Concern is a location that has experienced environmental degradation. Under Annex 2 of the Canada–United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, 42 Areas of Concern were identified and one more (Erie, Pennsylvania) was added later. Currently there are nine Areas of Concern in Canada, 25 Areas of Concern in the United States, and five additional Areas of Concern shared by both countries.