Canada: Environmental Law In Canada

Environmental Law

All levels of government across Canada have enacted legislation to regulate the impact of business activities on the environment. The environment is not named specifically in the Canadian Constitution, which means that neither the federal nor provincial governments have exclusive jurisdiction over it. Rather, jurisdiction is based upon other named "heads of power" that interact with the environment to varying degrees, such as criminal law, fisheries and natural resources. For many matters falling under the broad "environment" label, both the federal and provincial governments can and do exercise regulatory responsibilities. This is referred to as "concurrent jurisdiction," which, in practical terms, means that businesses must often comply with both provincial and federal regulations, depending on the circumstances of their operations. In addition, some municipalities are also becoming more active in environmental regulation, as is evidenced, for example, by their use of bylaws to regulate such matters as the development of contaminated land, the discharge of liquid effluent into municipal sewage systems, and reporting on the emission of chemical substances or application of herbicides/pesticides in the course of business operations.

As a consequence of the broad ambit of environmental matters and the concurrent jurisdiction of the federal and provincial governments, there is a proliferation of legislation which regulates different aspects of the interaction of business activities with the environment. The scope of legislation includes the management of emissions, substances and waste, the use of water and the development of natural resources, and the impact of development on wildlife and wildlife habitat, as well as enforcement mechanisms and penalties for noncompliance.

1. Toxic and Dangerous Substances

The federal government exercises jurisdiction over the identification, production and handling of toxic and dangerous substances in Canada and over the interprovincial and international transportation of dangerous goods. Each of the provinces has intra-provincial requirements that parallel the federal requirements regarding the transportation of dangerous goods for intra-provincial transportation.

1.1. Federal Regulation of Toxic and Dangerous Substances

1.1.1. Canadian Environmental Protection Act

The primary federal government department is Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), which is responsible for administering the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). CEPA provides the federal government with regulatory authority over substances considered toxic. The CEPA regime provides for the assessment of "new" substances not included on the Domestic Substances List, a national inventory of chemical and biotechnical substances. CEPA requires an importer or manufacturer to notify the federal government of a new substance before manufacture or importation can take place in Canada. Consequently, businesses must build in a sufficient lead-time for the introduction of new chemicals or biotechnology products into the Canadian marketplace. In certain circumstances, manufacturers and importers must also report new activities involving approved new substances so they can be re-evaluated.

If the government determines that a substance may present a danger to human health or the environment, it may add the substance to the List of Toxic Substances, which currently lists upwards of 150 toxic substances or groups of substances. Within two years of a substance being added to the list, ECCC is required to take action with respect to its management. Such actions may include preventive or control measures, such as securing voluntary agreements, requiring pollution prevention plans or issuing restrictive regulations that may provide for the phase-out or outright banning of a substance. Substances that are persistent, bioaccumulative, and result primarily from human activity must be placed on the Virtual Elimination List, and companies will then be required to prepare virtual elimination plans to achieve a release limit set by the minister of environment or the minister of health. Listed toxic substances include PCBs, CFCs and chlorinated solvents, to name but a few.

1.1.2. Pest Control Products Act

The Pest Control Products Act (PCPA) prohibits the manufacture, possession, handling, transportation, importation, distribution or use of a pest control product that is not registered under the PCPA or in any way that endangers human health or the safety of the environment. Pest control products are registered only if their risks and value are determined to be acceptable by the minister of health. A risk assessment includes special consideration of the different sensitivities to pest control products of major identifiable groups such as children and seniors, and an assessment of aggregate exposure and cumulative effects. New information about risks and values must be reported, and a re-evaluation of currently registered products must take place. The public must be consulted before significant registration decisions are made. The public is given access to information provided in relation to registered pest control products. Maximum penalties under the PCPA are C$1-million and/or three years' imprisonment.

1.1.3. Hazardous Products Act

The Hazardous Products Act (HPA) prohibits suppliers, in certain circumstances, from importing and/or selling "hazardous products" that are intended for use in a workplace in Canada. The legislation identifies various hazard classes of hazardous products. Maximum penalties under the HPA are C$5-million and/or two years' imprisonment. If a person knowingly or recklessly contravenes a provision of the HPA, maximum penalties are fines in an amount that is at the discretion of the court and/or five years' imprisonment.

To view the full article click here.

For permission to reprint articles, please contact the Blakes Marketing Department.

© 2019 Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP.

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

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions