Canada: Environment @ Gowlings – March 2006

Last Updated: April 19 2006

Edited by Katherine Van Rensburg

Federal News

  • Clean Air Act Proposed
  • Action Plan Unveiled for First Nations Drinking Water

News from the provinces


  • Ontario Introduces Fixed Prices for Renewable Energy


  • Québec Publishes Draft Regulation Respecting Mandatory Reporting of Certain Emissions of Contaminants into the Atmosphere

International News

  • Ocean Pollution Agreement Comes into Force

Federal News

Clean Air Act Proposed

In her first public speech as Minister of the Environment, the Honourable Rona Ambrose announced that the new government will develop a Clean Air Act.

Speaking at the Globe 2006 environmental conference in Vancouver on March 31, Minister Ambrose outlined two elements of the proposed Act. First, it would encourage the use of public transit by offering a tax credit to offset part of the cost of monthly transit passes. Second, it would increase the average renewable fuel content in gasoline and diesel fuel to 5 percent by 2010.

Minister Ambrose explained that this Act would allow Canadians "to participate in made-in Canada solutions for a cleaner Canada". She also noted that the Act would address two problems at once: local air pollution and global warming.

Pointing to a recent OECD study that ranked Canada 28th out of 30 countries in terms of environmental protection, Minister Ambrose said, "I am concerned, our government is concerned, our Prime Minister is concerned and Canadians are concerned. And that is why we are taking action to clean up our own backyard right here within our borders – local action for global change."

To read the full speech, please see:

Action Plan Unveiled for First Nations Drinking Water

On March 21, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, the Honourable Jim Prentice, announced an action plan to ensure safe drinking water on First Nations reserves.

The five components of the plan are:

  • Implement the "Protocol for Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Communities", which contains standards for the design, construction, operation, maintenance, and monitoring of drinking water systems;
  • Require all treatment-plant operators to complete the necessary training, and ensure that all water systems are overseen by certified operators;
  • Develop remedial plans for the 21 communities with the most serious drinking water issues;
  • Assemble a panel of experts to propose recommendations to reform the regulatory framework;
  • Report regularly on progress, including a full update during the fall sitting of Parliament.

The announcement follows the evacuation last October of hundreds of residents of the Kashechewan reserve in northern Ontario due to contaminated drinking water. Kashechewan is not on the list of 21 priority communities because, according to a government press backgrounder, "essential upgrades to the water systems have been completed, and the system is closely monitored by a certified operator".

For more information, please see:

News From The Provinces


Ontario Introduces Fixed Prices for Renewable Energy

On March 31, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced a new plan to make it easier for small renewable energy producers to sell their electricity to the grid.

Under the Standard Offer Program, the province will set a fixed price of 11 cents per kilowatt-hour for power produced by eligible wind, biomass or hydro projects. The price for solar power will be 42 cents per kilowatt-hour. The goal is to add up to 1,000 megawatts of renewable power to the province's energy supply over the next 10 years.

For more information on this program, please see:


Québec Publishes Draft Regulation Respecting Mandatory Reporting of Certain Emissions of Contaminants into the Atmosphere

Bill 44 entitled An Act to Amend the Act respecting the Ministère de l'Environnement, the Environment Quality Act and other legislative provisions, S.Q. 2004, c. 24 came into force on December 14, 2004. This bill confers to the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks (the "Minister") the power to make regulations determining the information that a person or a municipality is required to provide in order to ensure ongoing supervision of the quality of the environment and compliance with an international commitment or implementation of a Canadian intergovernmental agreement. Pursuant to Bill 44, the draft Regulation respecting mandatory reporting of certain emissions of contaminants into the atmosphere was published in the Gazette Officielle du Québec, on March 1, 2006 (the "Draft Regulation"). The purpose of the Draft Regulation is to determine the thresholds over which enterprises, facilities or establishments are required to report their emissions of contaminants associated with the greenhouse effect, acid rain, smog and toxic pollution.

The Draft Regulation is aimed at every operator whose enterprise, facility or establishment emits a contaminant listed in Schedule A thereof into the atmosphere at a level that is equal to or greater than the reporting threshold prescribed for the contaminant. Schedule A provides a list of contaminants and their respective reporting thresholds. Basically, four types of contaminants are covered by the Draft Regulation: contaminants that cause toxic pollution, contaminants that cause increased greenhouse effect, contaminants that cause acid rain and smog and contaminants that cause toxic pollution.

The Draft Regulation also determines the information to be provided and the parameters to be used to calculate the quantity of the contaminants emitted. The operator must, not later than the 1st of June of each year, communicate to the Minister the quantity of each of the contaminants listed in Schedule A that the facility, establishment or enterprise emitted into the atmosphere in the course of the preceding calendar year. The information must include any data pertaining to production, fuels used and raw materials relevant to the calculation of the quantities of contaminants emitted on an annual basis, and emission factors used for the calculation. Moreover, if an enterprise has several establishments, a separate report must be made for each of them, and if an establishment has more than one facility, the data pertaining to each facility must be identified separately. The persons or municipalities to which the provisions of the Draft Regulation apply must retain the required information and calculations, measurements and other data on which emission data are based for a minimum of five years from the date on which they were produced.

Furthermore, if the operator is also required under a public notice given pursuant to section 46 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, to report to the Federal Minister of the Environment for a contaminant listed in Part II of Schedule A of the Draft Regulation (in respect of contaminants that cause increased greenhouse effect, contaminants that cause acid rain and smog or contaminants that cause toxic pollution) the operator will be required to transmit without delay to the Minister a copy of any information transmitted to the Federal Minister of the Environment concerning any of those contaminants emitted into the atmosphere by the enterprise, facility or establishment. In addition, if the operator is required under a public notice given pursuant to section 46 to notify the Federal Minister of the Environment that the enterprise, facility or establishment ceases to meet the prescribed reporting criteria, the operator must likewise notify the Minister at the same time.

Finally, it is an offence under the Draft Regulation if a person fails to communicate the information required under section 4 or section 5 thereof. In the case of a natural person, the fines range from $2,000 to $12,000 and, in the case of a legal person, the fines range from $5,000 to $25,000 for first offences. In the case of a second or subsequent offence, these fines will be doubled. The comment period with respect to the Draft Regulation will expire on May 1, 2006. The Draft Regulation can be reviewed at:

International News

Ocean Pollution Agreement Comes into Force

On March 24, the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter entered into force, one month after it was ratified by Mexico, the last of the minimum 26 countries needed to make the deal binding.

The 1996 Protocol essentially inverts the international framework governing land-based sources of marine pollution: whereas the original 1972 Convention allowed wastes to be dumped into the sea, except for certain prohibited materials, the 1996 Protocol bans dumping except for certain approved materials.

Canada ratified the 1996 Protocol in 2000 and regulates ocean dumping through the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 and the Disposal at Sea Regulations.

An Environment Canada press release regarding the 1996 Protocol is available at:

The text of the 1996 Protocol and the 1972 Convention is available at:

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.

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