Report 5—Environmental Petitions Annual Report and Retrospective

At a Glance Report 5—Environmental Petitions Annual Report and Retrospective


In the October 2007 Commissioner’s report, we included a retrospective of the first 10 years of the petitions process. This year, we include another retrospective, which examines key facets of the process, such as types of issues raised, and survey results of petitioners and federal organizations.

According to the surveys we conducted this year and our interactions with petitioners over the years, the petitions process remains valuable and relevant to Canadians, government departments and agencies, and the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. The process also remains accessible to both individuals and organizations in Canada.

Annual Report

As required by the Auditor General Act, the annual report informs Parliament and Canadians about the petitions activity that took place over the past year—that is, the 12-month period from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017.

The Office of the Auditor General of Canada received 16 environmental petitions between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017, compared with 13 the previous reporting year and 15 the year before. Petitions originated from five provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario. We identified no issues with the timeliness and completeness of responses by departments and agencies.

Of note, 7 petitions concerned potential adverse health effects on humans from radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation from personal wireless devices, such as cellphones, tablets, baby monitors, and Wi-Fi Internet routers.

Summaries of all petitions received since 1996 and their responses are available in the petitions catalogue.

Why this report is important

The environmental petitions process, created in 1995, is a unique way for Canadians to express their concerns and ask questions on environmental issues. The process is an opportunity to directly request information and answers from federal ministers. Petitions continue to raise a wide range of topics, issues, and questions, and to have an impact on federal policies and programs that protect the environment and promote sustainable development.

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