Canadian Environmental Protection Act

What we examined

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) is Canada’s principal federal environmental statut

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e. It is intended to protect the environment and

human health by mitigating and managing risks posed by harmful substances. CEPA 1999 and its regulations govern a variety of environmental matters, including toxic substances, cross-border air and water pollution, and waste disposal. The Act also imposes requirements for pollution prevention planning and emergency plans, and it regulates the inter-provincial and international movement of hazardous wastes and recyclable materials.

Environment Canada’s enforcement program is aimed at ensuring that individuals, companies, and government agencies comply with the pollution prevention and conservation goals of environmental and wildlife protection Acts and regulations, including CEPA 1999. The enforcement of CEPA 1999 is carried out by the Department’s Environmental Enforcement Directorate, comprising a national office and five regional offices across Canada whose activities include monitoring and enforcing regulatory compliance.

We examined whether Environment Canada’s enforcement program was well managed to adequately enforce compliance with CEPA 1999. We assessed whether the Department has applied a risk-based approach to plan its enforcement activities and target the greatest threats to human health and the environment; enforced the law in a fair, predictable, and consistent way, as the Act requires; measured the results of its enforcement activities; and acted on identified opportunities for improvement.

Audit work for this chapter was completed on 11 October 2011.

Why it’s important

CEPA 1999 states that the protection of the environment is essential to the well-being of Canadians and that the primary purpose of the Act is to contribute to sustainable development through pollution prevention. According to Environment Canada, environmental laws alone are not enough to guarantee a cleaner, better environment. These laws also need to be enforced. Enforcing CEPA 1999 is therefore an important part of protecting the health of Canadians, biodiversity, and the quality of Canada’s air, soil, and water. According to Environment Canada, enforcement of the law can encourage behavioral changes needed to protect the environment and human health by preventing and managing risks posed by toxic and other harmful substances.

The law is a very important one in keeping the peace within the Ontario government in regards to environmental issues and should be regarded when building any new type of structure as it will in some form impact the area around it. If you’d like to read more on the Law, click on the image above.

Canadian Environmental LAW Association

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The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) is a non-profit, public interest organization established in 1970 to use existing laws to protect the environment and to advocate environmental law reforms. Funded by Legal Aid Ontario, CELA is one of 76 community legal clinics located across Ontario, 18 of which offer services in specialized areas of the law. CELA also undertakes additional educational and law reform projects funded by government and private foundations. To find out more see our most recent Annual Report.

Clinic Mandate

The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) is a specialty community legal clinic providing services to low income individuals and disadvantaged communities across Ontario in environmental law matters. CELA was established in 1970, funded as an Ontario specialty legal aid clinic since 1978, and incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation without share capital pursuant to the laws of Canada in 1982, providing legal aid services to the community without fees for service. CELA services include environmental law legal services, including representation before a variety of courts and tribunals as well as assistance to individuals representing themselves, summary advice, law reform and public legal education.

CELA’s objectives are:

  • To provide equitable access to justice to those otherwise unable to afford representation for their environmental problems;
  • To advocate for comprehensive laws, standards and policies that will protect and enhance public health and environmental quality in Ontario and throughout Canada;
  • To increase public participation in environmental decision-making;
  • To work with the public and public interest groups to foster long-term sustainable solutions to environmental concerns and resource use;
  • To prevent harm to human and ecosystem health through application of precautionary measures.

In accomplishing all of these objectives, primary recognition is given to CELA’s mandate to assist low-income people and disadvantaged communities.