The 2009 Fall Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development was released on November 3, 2009.

The Report examines a number of areas critical to environmental management, beginning with the emphasis on science-based environmental information that is timely, robust and accessible in ways that identify patterns of environmental degradation and assist programs concentrating on environmental issues. The Commissioner examined a variety of environmental monitoring and science-based programs and concluded that many were working as intended. Examples cited were Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory, the Air Quality Health Index and the ongoing review and updating of the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. The Commissioner however was critical of the absence of information on fish habitat protection and on the absence of adequate systems and practices being implemented by Environment Canada to verify that all facilities required to report on the National Pollutant Release Inventory are doing so and that the information being reported is accurate.

The Report examined specific issues. In respect of the application of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEEA), the recommendations included:

  • resolution of long-standing federal coordination issues;
  • conducting an evaluation of the quality of environmental assessments, in particular, of screenings conducted under CEAA; and
  • implementation of a quality assurance program to ensure the responsible authorities are conducting good-quality environmental assessments and whether the assessments are contributing to the protection of the environment.  

In the case of Risks of Toxic Substances recommendations included:

  • Preparation and implementation of risk management strategies for lead and mercury in order to address the ongoing risks to human health and the environment associated with these substances;
  • Regular preparation and annual release of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 annual reports in order to present a complete picture of the previous year’s compliance promotion and enforcement activities and related results including compliance rates.

Recommendations flowing from the review of the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) included:

  • the development of the strategy for improving the accuracy of NPRI data; and
  • the development of a program to identify non-reporting facilities that may be subject to NPRI reporting requirements and the development of a program to ensure that all facilities report fully.

For further information please see: http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_cesd_200911_e_33253.html