Environment and Climate Change Canada

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Environment and Climate Change Canada
Environnement et Changement climatique Canada
Environment and Climate Change Canada logo.svg
Department overview
Type Department responsible for coordinating environmental policies and programs
Jurisdiction Canada
Employees7,616 (2021) [1]
Minister responsible
Department executive
  • Christine Hogan, Deputy Minister
Child agencies
Key document
Website www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change.html

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC; French : Environnement et Changement climatique Canada), [NB 1] is the department of the Government of Canada responsible for coordinating environmental policies and programs, as well as preserving and enhancing the natural environment and renewable resources. It is also colloquially known by its former name, Environment Canada (EC; French: Environnement Canada).


The minister of environment and climate change has been Steven Guilbeault since October 26, 2021; Environment and Climate Change Canada supports the minister's mandate to: "preserve and enhance the quality of the natural environment, including water, air, soil, flora and fauna; conserve Canada's renewable resources; conserve and protect Canada's water resources; forecast daily weather conditions and warnings, and provide detailed meteorological information to all of Canada; enforce rules relating to boundary waters; and coordinate environmental policies and programs for the federal government." [2] The minister provides political direction and is responsible for the department to Parliament, with the day-to-day operations being managed by the deputy minister.


Federal role

Under the Constitution of Canada, responsibility for environmental management in Canada is a shared responsibility between the federal government and provincial governments. For example, provincial governments have primary authority for resource management including permitting industrial waste discharges (e.g., to the air). The federal government is responsible for the management of toxic substances in the country (e.g., benzene). The department provides stewardship of the Environmental Choice Program, which provides consumers with an eco-labelling for products manufactured within Canada or services that meet international label standards of (GEN) Global Ecolabelling Network.

Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act [3] (CEPA 1999) (R.S., 1999, c. 33), ECCC became the lead federal department to ensure the cleanup of hazardous waste and oil spills for which the government is responsible, and to provide technical assistance to other jurisdictions and the private sector as required. The department is also responsible for international environmental issues (e.g., Canada-USA air issues). CEPA was the central piece of Canada's environmental legislation but was replaced when budget implementation Bill C-38 entered into effect in June 2012. [4] [ needs update ]

Canada Water Act and creation of department

"Recognizing the need for better environmental management, the federal government passed the Canada Water Act in 1970 and created the Department of the Environment in 1971, entrusting the Inland Waters Directorate with providing national leadership for freshwater management. Under the Constitution Act, 1867, the provinces are "owners" of the water resources and have wide responsibilities in their day-to-day management. The federal government has certain specific responsibilities relating to water, such as fisheries and navigation, as well as exercising certain overall responsibilities such as the conduct of external affairs." [5]

The Canada Water Act (proclaimed on September 30, 1970) provides the framework for cooperation with provinces and territories in the conservation, development, and utilization of Canada's water resources. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, completes the framework for the protection and of water resources. Environment and Climate Change Canada is the federal department in charge of conserving and protecting Canada's water resources. The Water Act (2000), a federal legislation, "supports and promotes the conservation and management of water, including the wise allocation and use of water.". [6] The provinces are responsible for administering the Water Act (2000). In Alberta for example, Alberta Environment and Water is responsible for administering the Water Act (2000) and the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (2000). Provinces environmental ministries primarily lead Water for Life (2003) programs. Provinces also implement and oversee "regulation of municipal drinking water, wastewater, and storm drainage systems." [6]

Recent history

Kyoto Accord

In December 2011, Minister of the Environment Peter Kent announced Canada's withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol one day after negotiators from nearly 200 countries meeting in Durban, South Africa at the 2011 United Nations Climate Change Conference (November 28 – December 11), completed a marathon of climate talks to establish a new treaty to limit carbon emissions. The Durban talks were leading to a new binding treaty with targets for all countries to take effect in 2020.

Kent argued that, "The Kyoto protocol does not cover the world's largest two emitters, the United States and China, and therefore cannot work." In 2010 Canada, Japan and Russia said they would not accept new Kyoto commitments. Canada is the only country to repudiate the Kyoto Accord. Kent argued that since Canada could not meet targets, it needed to avoid the $14 billion in penalties for not achieving its goals. [7] This decision drew widespread international response. [8] States for which the emissions are not covered by the Kyoto Protocol (the US and China) have the largest emissions, being responsible for 41% of the Kyoto Protocol. China's emissions increased by over 200% from 1990 to 2009. [9]

2012 Budget

The 2012 federal budget 's Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act replaced the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA 1992, 1999) with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, Species at Risk Act, The National Energy Board Act, the Canadian Oil and Gas Operations Act, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, the Fisheries Act (for example, closing the Experimental Lakes Area) all underwent major changes under Bill C-38. By placing the emphasis on jobs, growth and prosperity significant changes have been made to the federal environmental assessment regime (EA) and environmental regulatory framework. [10] [11]

2015 renaming

In 2015, the newly elected Trudeau government changed the applied title of the department under the Federal Identity Program from Environment Canada to Environment and Climate Change Canada. The new administration said this change was made in order to "reflect the government's priorities". [12]


Ice Reconnaissance de Havilland Canada Dash 7 at Carp Airport Environment Canada Dash 7.jpg
Ice Reconnaissance de Havilland Canada Dash 7 at Carp Airport

The department is divided into several geographic regions:

The department has several organizations which carry out specific tasks:

Weather and Environmental Operations (Regional Weather Operations)


The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada is an arms-length agency that reports to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. [23] [24]

Parks Canada, which manages the Canadian National Parks system, was removed from Environment Canada and became an agency reporting to the minister of Canadian heritage in 1998. In 2003, responsibility for Parks Canada was returned to the minister of the environment's portfolio. [25]

Enforcement activities


The Enforcement Branch is responsible for ensuring compliance with several federal statutes. Enforcement officers are appointed pursuant to section 217(3) of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, having all the powers of peace officers.

There are two designations of enforcement officers: Environmental Enforcement and Wildlife Enforcement. The former administers the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and pollution provisions of the Fisheries Act and corresponding regulations. The latter enforces Migratory Birds Convention Act, Canada Wildlife Act, Species at Risk Act and The Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act. [26] All officers wear dark green uniform with black ties and a badge (appear on the right). Environmental Enforcement Officers only carry baton and OC spray whereas Wildlife Enforcement Officers are also equipped with firearm. [27]

The minister may also appoint members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, fishery officers, parks officers, customs officers and conservation officers of provincial and territorial governments as enforcement officers and to allow them to exercise the powers of Department of Environment officers.[ citation needed ]

Electronic waste

The Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations (EIHWHRMR) operates with a few basic premises, one of which being that electronic waste is either "intact" or "not intact". The various annexes define hazardous waste in Canada, and also deem any waste that is "...considered or defined as hazardous under the legislation of the country receiving it and is prohibited by that country from being imported or conveyed in transit" to be covered under Canadian regulation and therefore subject to prior informed consent procedures. [28] [29]

Since Canada ratified the Basel Convention on August 28, 1992, and as of August 2011, the Enforcement Branch has initiated 176 investigations for violations under EIHWHRMR, some of which are still in progress. There have been 19 prosecutions undertaken for non-compliance with the provisions of the EIHWHRMR some of which are still before the courts.[ citation needed ]

The department administers and assists in the administration of nearly c. 24 acts through regulations and through "voluntary and regulated agreements with individuals or multiple parties in Canada and elsewhere to define mutual commitments, roles and responsibilities and actions on specific environmental issues." [30]

Canada National Parks Act

The Canada National Parks Act governs Parks Canada Agency.

Canada Wildlife Act

Canada Wildlife Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. W-9) Amended in June 2012 by Bill C-38 [31] 'allows for the creation, management and protection of wildlife areas' to preserve habitats, particularly for at risk species and requires permits for specified activities in designated wildlife areas. [32]

Impact Assessment Act (2019)

The Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (2000) "supports and promotes the protection, enhancement, and wise use of the environment. The Act's individual regulations cover a wide range of activities, from beverage container recycling and pesticide sales, potable water, to wastewater and storm drainage." [6]

Migratory Birds Convention Act

First enacted in 1917, the MBCA protects most species of birds in Canada through regulations surrounding hunting, culling, and scientific research. [33]

See also


  1. Environment and Climate Change Canada is the applied title under the Federal Identity Program; the legal title is Department of the Environment (French : Ministère de l'Environnement).

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Environmental law</span> Branch of law concerning the natural environment

Environmental law is a collective term encompassing aspects of the law that provide protection to the environment. A related but distinct set of regulatory regimes, now strongly influenced by environmental legal principles, focus on the management of specific natural resources, such as forests, minerals, or fisheries. Other areas, such as environmental impact assessment, may not fit neatly into either category, but are nonetheless important components of environmental law.

Health Canada is the department of the Government of Canada responsible for national health policy. The department itself is also responsible for numerous federal health-related agencies, including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), among others. These organizations help to ensure compliance with federal law in a variety of healthcare, agricultural, and pharmaceutical activities. This responsibility also involves extensive collaboration with various other federal- and provincial-level organizations in order to ensure the safety of food, health, and pharmaceutical products—including the regulation of health research and pharmaceutical manufacturing/testing facilities.

Parks Canada, is the agency of the Government of Canada which manages the country's 48 National Parks, three National Marine Conservation Areas, 172 National Historic Sites, one National Urban Park, and one National Landmark. Parks Canada is mandated to "protect and present nationally significant examples of Canada's natural and cultural heritage, and foster public understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment in ways that ensure their ecological and commemorative integrity for present and future generations".

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, is a department of the Government of Canada that is responsible for developing and implementing policies and programs in support of Canada's economic, ecological and scientific interests in oceans and inland waters. Its mandate includes responsibility for the conservation and sustainable use of Canada's fisheries resources while continuing to provide safe, effective and environmentally sound marine services that are responsive to the needs of Canadians in a global economy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Polluter pays principle</span>

In environmental law, the polluter pays principle is enacted to make the party responsible for producing pollution responsible for paying for the damage done to the natural environment. It is regarded as a regional custom because of the strong support it has received in most Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and European Union countries. It is a fundamental principle in US environmental law.

The Canadian Wildlife Service or CWS, is a Branch of the Department of the Environment, a department of the Government of Canada. November 1, 2012 marked the 65th anniversary of the founding of Service.

<i>Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999</i>

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 is an act of the 36th Parliament of Canada, whose goal is to contribute to sustainable development through pollution prevention and to protect the environment, human life and health from the risks associated with toxic substances. It covers a diversity of activities that can affect human health and the environment, and acts to address any pollution issues not covered by other federal laws. As such, the act is a "catch all" piece of legislation that ensures potentially toxic substances are not inadvertently exempt from federal oversight as a result of unforeseen legislative loopholes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Environmental crime</span> Illegal act which directly harms the environment

Environmental crime is an illegal act which directly harms the environment. These illegal activities involve the environment, wildlife, biodiversity and natural resources. International bodies such as, G8, Interpol, European Union, United Nations Environment Programme, United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, have recognised the following environmental crimes:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">New York State Department of Environmental Conservation</span> New Yorks state-level environmental regulator

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is a department of New York state government. The department guides and regulates the conservation, improvement, and protection of New York's natural resources; manages Forest Preserve lands in the Adirondack and Catskill parks, state forest lands, and wildlife management areas; regulates sport fishing, hunting and trapping; and enforces the state's environmental laws and regulations. Its regulations are compiled in Title 6 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations. It was founded in 1970, replacing the Conservation Department. and is headed by Basil Seggos.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">United States Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division</span> Government Department

The United States Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) is one of seven litigating components of the U.S. Department of Justice. ENRD's mandate is to enforce civil and criminal environmental laws and programs protecting the health and environment of the United States, and to defend suits challenging those laws and programs.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">California Environmental Protection Agency</span> Environmental agency in California

The California Environmental Protection Agency, or CalEPA, is a state cabinet-level agency within the government of California. The mission of CalEPA is to restore, protect and enhance the environment, to ensure public health, environmental quality and economic vitality.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Florida Department of Environmental Protection</span> Florida government agency

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) is the Florida government agency responsible for environmental protection.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Water supply and sanitation in Canada</span>

Water supply and sanitation in Canada is nearly universal and generally of good quality, but a lack of clean drinking water in many First Nations communities remains a problem. Water use in Canada is high compared to Europe, since water tariffs are low and 44% of users are not metered.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Environmental policy of the United States</span> Governmental action to protect the environment

The environmental policy of the United States is a federal governmental action to regulate activities that have an environmental impact in the United States. The goal of environmental policy is to protect the environment for future generations while interfering as little as possible with the efficiency of commerce or the liberty of the people and to limit inequity in who is burdened with environmental costs. As his first official act bringing in the 1970s, President Richard Nixon signed the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) into law on New Years Day, 1970. Also in the same year, America began celebrating Earth Day, which has been called "the big bang of U.S. environmental politics, launching the country on a sweeping social learning curve about ecological management never before experienced or attempted in any other nation." NEPA established a comprehensive US national environmental policy and created the requirement to prepare an environmental impact statement for “major federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the environment.” Author and consultant Charles H. Eccleston has called NEPA, the world's “environmental Magna Carta”.

To protect the environment from the adverse effects of pollution, many nations worldwide have enacted legislation to regulate various types of pollution as well as to mitigate the adverse effects of pollution.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Electronic waste by country</span>

Electronic waste is a significant part of today's global, post-consumer waste stream. Efforts are being made to recycle and reduce this waste.

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy is a ministry of the government of British Columbia in Canada. The ministry is responsible for the effective protection, management and conservation of the province's natural resources. It is currently overseen by George Heyman.

Manitoba is home to a variety of ecosystems across the province that need to be considered in development and conservation plans. There are terrestrial ecosystems, which includes prairies, boreal forest, and tundra. Manitoba is also the home to a number of aquatic ecosystems, including wetlands, rivers, and lakes. There is also a wide variety of wildlife and plants that thrive in this particular region. However, human impact has become more apparent and the need to protect and conserve is becoming clear.


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    Additional reading

    1. Canada's Changing Climate Report,Natural Resources Canada, Retrieved May 20, 2019