The Ontario Commissioner emphasizes how much the Ontario
Ministry of the Environment is doing with a steadily declining
share of government revenues- now half what it was a generation
ago. Environment Canada has also been slashed. Although the
challenges continue to grow, with ever more evidence of the links
between pollution and adverse effects on human health and the
environment, both Ministries of the Environment seem bound to
shrink further in the face of Ontario and Canada's massive
Nevertheless, morale among Ministry of the Environment staff
seems to remain high- they know that their overall task is
important, and has the Premier's support. While some important
things don't get done, and the MOE response to citizen requests
is often disappointing, the MOE is active on many important
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I hear much less enthusiasm among
federal environmental staff. Many of those who can retire, or find
other jobs, seem to be doing so. Federal environmental enforcement
(never robust by Ontario standards, although occasionally prone to
making examples of the wrong people) has sagged again. My
observations match the critical comments made by Commissioner
Vaughan in his December 2011 report about current federal
"The second theme of this report is the enforcement of key
federal laws and regulations intended to protect Canadians and the
environment. We present the results of two audits: one on the
transportation of dangerous products, and the other on the
enforcement of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
The government has established legislative and regulatory
frameworks to protect human health and the environment. Transport
Canada, the National Energy Board, and Environment Canada have
programs intended to identify those who violate the law and have
the authority to make violators take corrective action.
As discussed in Chapter 1, the Transportation of Dangerous
Goods Act, 1992 regulates the everyday shipment of goods considered
to be dangerous if mishandled. It covers transport systems and
substances regulated by Transport Canada, such as industrial acids
and petroleum products. The National Energy Board Act governs the
shipment of petroleum products through the roughly 71,000
kilometres of oil and gas pipelines that are regulated by the
National Energy Board.
Weaknesses in the management practices of Transport Canada's
transportation of dangerous goods program are long-standing. An
internal audit conducted in 2006 identified a number of weaknesses
in management practices that have yet to be addressed. These
include the need for a consistent approach to planning and carrying
out Transport Canada's enforcement activities.
The National Energy Board has developed a sound risk-based
approach for monitoring the adherence of regulated companies to
established regulations and standards. Of concern is that the Board
has yet to review many of the emergency response procedures manuals
submitted by regulated companies.
In Chapter 3, Enforcing the Canadian Environmental
Protection Act, 1999, we examined the enforcement of the Canadian
Environmental Protection Act, 1999, and 45 of its 53 regulations
that govern a wide variety of substances and activities in the
Canadian economy—from hazardous wastes to contaminated
fuels, asbestos, and the disposal of waste at sea. CEPA 1999 is
enforced by Environment Canada.
We found that Environment Canada's enforcement program is
not well managed to adequately enforce compliance with CEPA 1999.
The Department's ability to adequately manage the enforcement
program is limited by an incomplete knowledge of the regulated
community. We noted that some of the regulations are not enforced
at all due to a lack of training for enforcement officers or
inadequate laboratory tests.
I am concerned that these three organizations have not been
diligent in verifying that regulated companies have taken action to
correct identified instances of non-compliance."
All of these problems seem likely to worsen as further budget
cuts bite. Am I too pessimistic? Please comment and tell me
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
The Imperial Oil refinery pled guilty to one offence for discharging a contaminant, coker stabilizer, thermocracked gas, into the natural environment causing an adverse effect and was fined $650,000...
Ontario's Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change continues to roll out its Climate Change Action Plan with its proposed GHG guide for projects that are subject to the province's Environmental Assessment Act.
In June, 2016, Justice Faieta of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice awarded damages of $57,712.31 plus interest against legal counsel who failed to file a claim within the required limitation period.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).