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Water Today Title June 29, 2022

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Advisory of the Day



This story is brought to you in part by Graystone Environmental

As we have seen with the case of Fibrek, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) plays a major role in ensuring that companies are in compliance with Canadian environmental regulations. The ECCC traces its roots back to 1971, and according to the departmental website, this science-based arm of the government "provides the science and technology information so Canadians can make informed decisions about the environment."

One of the results of Fibrek mill's guilty plea was that they were entered into the Environmental Offenders Registry. This is a database of corporate convictions under Canadian environmental and wildlife legislation. The ECCC registry is a requirement of the Environmental Enforcement Act, which according to the act itself, "strengthened and harmonized enforcement regimes" across nine environmental laws.

We spoke with Stéphane Dinel, Regional Director, Environmental Enforcement Directorate, Québec region, for insight into the registry. According to Dinel, any time a company "pleads or is found guilty", an entry into this database is created. The actual entries are quite thorough, listing corporate, conviction, and offence related information.

Dinel suggests that the registry came into being in 2012. In addition, Dinel says that it is there for "all Canadians to consult when they have questions about what is going on in their [region]", in terms of corporate environmental law and enforcement. The value of such a registry is invaluable to citizens and researchers, and the database includes convictions prior to its creation.

The registry currently contains 88 records for convictions under the Antarctic Environmental Protection Act, Canada Wildlife Act, Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, International River Improvements Act, Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, Pollution Prevention Provisions of Fisheries Act, and the Species at Risk Act. Alberta is the province with the most convictions listed (25), while 6 provinces and territories have no convictions at all. Fibrek is not yet among the six convictions in Québec.

Beyond investigating and overseeing the registry, the ECCC oversees the Environmental Damages Fund; portions of fines handed down in virtue of the Environmental Enforcement Act are diverted to this federal trust. The fund was established in 1995 and goes toward projects that fulfill the department's mandate. The ECCC mandate is to protect Canada's natural environment and renewable resources.

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