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2005 September Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development

September 2005 Report—Chapter 7

Exhibit 7.4—Progress made by departments and agencies in meeting commitments in their 2001 and 2004 strategies




Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Delivery of green procurement awareness training to the integrated service managers community and all NCR Assets Management/Procurement Staff.

(2004 strategy)

Target: 2004

Context. The Department has policies in place to ensure that its procurement activities are in compliance with its environmental responsibilities. It identified the need for a training program so that personnel with purchasing responsibility would be able to recognize green procurement opportunities.

What we found. The Department has made satisfactory progress in providing green procurement awareness training. It started training in 2003–04 with workshops but found that this was not the most effective approach. In 2004–05, the Department hired Public Works and Government Services Canada to provide a green procurement awareness course on-line. The on-line course was less expensive to administer and more flexible for staff to use. To date, green procurement awareness training has been provided to more than 120 staff. The Department plans to continue to offer this training.

This commitment was carried over from the 2001 strategy. According to the Department, progress on this commitment was delayed because it made significant changes in its organization, including consolidating procurement activities and reviewing procurement activities and delivery models. However, the Department recommitted to achieving this commitment in its 2004 strategy.

Canada Revenue Agency

Finalize CCRA* environmental policy.

(2001 strategy)

Target: 30 November 2001

*CCRA (Canada Customs and Revenue Agency), now the Canada Revenue Agency

Context. As a large government institution, the Agency recognizes that its activities affect the environment. Its vision is to have globally recognized best practices for sustainable development.

What we found. The Agency's environmental policy has been finalized. It was approved by the board of management in December 2001 and was communicated to staff through a package, which included the new policy, a presentation for management use, and frequently asked questions. The environmental policy incorporates key environmental issues such as reducing the level of environmental risk associated with operations, implementing and promoting sound environmental management practices, and improving environmental performance.

The Agency reassessed the policy after Canada Customs was separated from the Agency in December 2003 and found that it was still relevant. The Agency plans to review the policy by 31 December 2006.

Environment Canada

Put proper mechanisms in place, through work with community partners, to make warning information accessible to individuals in time for them to take action.

(2001 strategy)

Target: None

Context. Canadians are vulnerable to high-impact weather events, such as the Red River flood in 1997, the ice storm in 1998, and Hurricane Juan in 2003. Environment Canada believes that improving access to weather warnings will help to ensure that Canadians can take appropriate steps to protect themselves and their businesses. The media is Environment Canada's primary partner for communicating warning information to the public.

What we found. Environment Canada has made progress in developing initiatives to improve media access to weather warnings, for example a Web site for weather information and weather warning protocols for radio stations. However, the Department does not know the extent to which Canadians' access to warnings or warning time has improved.

Improve Canadians' accessibility to, and understanding of, high-impact weather warnings.

(2004 strategy)

Target: None

Context. This commitment builds on the Department's previous commitment to make weather warnings more accessible. In addition to developing initiatives that improve media access to warning information, this commitment focusses on improving Canadians' understanding of high-impact weather warnings.

What we found. The Department has not defined measurable targets. Consequently, it is unable to fully assess the extent to which the objectives of the commitment have been met. In addition, technical and policy issues, such as the need to foster voluntary participation by broadcasters, hinder progress on providing access to Canadians. However, Environment Canada is working on outreach initiatives, for example, an expansion of the Warning Preparedness Meteorologist Program, to improve how Canadians understand and react to high-impact weather.

Foreign Affairs Canada

Develop a strategy in 2001 to address issues related to the health and welfare of employees and their families located at our missions abroad.

(2001 strategy)

Target: 2001

Context. The Department committed to developing a strategy to address the many health and safety challenges that its employees and families located at missions abroad face. For example, problems that may exist in Canada to some degree, such as air pollution, can be extreme in other countries.

What we found. The Department set up a committee and it developed a strategy. The committee, along with its sub-committees, was made up of representatives from the Department and other departments, such as Health Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and Canadian International Development Agency. The strategy identifies issue areas, such as pollution, and sets out recommendations with expected results, rough costs, and which branch or department will implement the recommendations.

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

In cooperation with First Nations communities, to develop a federal comprehensive community-planning strategy.

(2004 strategy)

Target: April 2005

Context. The federal government's current approach to funding and supporting First Nations communities is fragmented. It involves many government programs with different eligibility criteria, funding conditions, and reporting requirements. The Department believes that comprehensive community planning can help First Nations determine their priorities and increase their self-reliance. The Department originally made this commitment in its 2001 strategy with a target date of December 2003.

What we found. The Department has made some progress. Over the past four years, it has created partnerships with First Nations and other departments, established pilot projects and working groups, and published a document on planning experiences in First Nations, Inuit, and Northern communities. To complete work on the federal strategy, the Department believes that it must first develop its own community-planning strategy, in co-operation with First Nations, which it plans to complete by December 2005. This strategy will be used for discussions with other federal departments. Consequently, it has revised its target date to December 2006. Given the work remaining, we feel this target date is optimistic.

Industry Canada

Development of an innovation strategy and action plan for application of bio-products and bio-processes in support of sustainable development.

(2001 strategy)

Target: None

Context. Bio-products are products made from any type of organic material that is available on a renewable or recurring basis. They can include crops and trees, wood and wood wastes, and aquatic plants and grasses. An innovation strategy and action plan for bio-products is important because they can reduce the use of fossil fuels in the manufacturing and processing of many industrial products. Industry Canada considers that the document, Innovation Roadmap on Bio-based Feedstocks, Fuels and Industrial Products, is the strategy and action plan. The roadmap is a living process that allows industry players to work with the government and the academic sector to design their own long-term plans.

What we found. The strategy and action plan has been finalized, published, and distributed. The initiative was led by industry, while the Department provided services to the "roadmap secretariat," for example, facilitation, contributing to the working groups, and writing. The document has been reviewed by industry members, to whom it is addressed. The strategy provides guidance on the targets of industry and lists action items that are prioritized in the short and long term. However, we observed that the accountability for each action item has not yet been assigned, and it is not clear how a specific action item relates to a specific target. We did not examine the sufficiency or comprehensiveness of the strategy and action plan.

National Defence

Implement Training Area Management Plans at selected sites* by 31 March 2004.

(2001 strategy)

Target: 31 March 2004

*We selected the following sites for this audit: Gagetown, Nanoose, Petawawa, and Valcartier.

Context. While military training activities can be damaging to the environment, the Canadian Forces needs to train under conditions that are as realistic as possible, and it has locations across the country for that purpose. In 2003, we reported that the Department needed to improve its environmental stewardship of the areas it uses for training and how it reports progress on strategy targets. National Defence has committed to reduce damage to the environment as a result of its training activities and make progress toward its goal of sustainable military training.

What we found. The Department has made progress toward this sustainable development strategy commitment. It has produced plans for managing training areas at the sites we examined. We reviewed the progress reported on improving training area environmental management and found that action is being taken to address environmental concerns. The Department has stated that it is focussing on high-priority items, but we were not able to conclude that areas addressed were the high-priority areas, which is one measure the Department uses to report progress.

Transport Canada

Transport Canada will identify third party discharges of effluent and waste at Canadian ports by 2001/2002.

(2001 strategy)

Target: 2001–02


Context. It is important to reduce the impact of discharges of effluents and liquid waste to protect aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and to prevent exposure by humans to dangerous substances. Transport Canada wanted to adopt measures to prevent discharges, prepare for such situations, and take action as necessary. The Department also wanted to adopt measures that reduce or eliminate regular discharges of effluents and waste.

Objective 1

Work with the Association of Canadian Port Authorities (ACPA) to identify discharges at ports by requesting an inventory of existing environmental problems on Crown lands, by 2001/2002.

Target: 2001–02

Context. The Canada Marine Act established 19 Canada Port Authorities. These ports are essential links in Canada's domestic and international trade. They operate as independent entities and manage any federal property assets within the ports (i.e., Crown land) on behalf of Transport Canada.

What we found. An inventory of discharges has not yet been compiled. Transport Canada has indicated that it tried to work with the Association of Canadian Port Authorities (ACPA) to obtain an inventory of the discharges in the 19 major Canadian ports. The ACPA has indicated that it does not have the necessary resources to conduct such an inventory. No further action has been taken by Transport Canada.

Objective 2

Work closely with the ACPA (Environment Committee) to develop work plans, with timelines, to address environmental problems and determine the role of TC in the remediation process, by 2002/2003.

Target: 2002–03


Context. Objective 2 was not evaluated because it requires objective 1 to be completed.

Objective 3

Prepare an inventory of problematic sites for TC-owned ports, by reviewing existing audits and environmental baseline studies, by 2001/2002.

Target: 2001–02

Context. Under its National Marine Policy, Transport Canada is transferring its regional/local ports to other operators. On 31 March 2002, 82 regional/local ports and 34 remote ports across Canada were still under the responsibility of the Department.

What we found. Transport Canada identified the discharge sites in almost all of its ports by March 2002. Information on location, ownership, and effluent type was collected.

Based on its knowledge of the 116 ports and on the results of a detailed March 2003 study involving 5 ports, Transport Canada determined that it did not have significant discharge problems. Although this is a good initiative, this does not guarantee that ports not studied in detail are free of problem situations.

Objective 4

Develop a monitoring framework for TC-owned ports that will include project identification, analysis and timelines for remediation, in 2002/2003.

Target: 2002–03


Context. Objective 4 was not evaluated because it requires objective 3 to be completed.

Treasury Board Secretariat

Maintain and update the federal contaminated sites inventory.

(2001 strategy)

Target: Ongoing

Context. Thousands of federal sites have been assessed and identified as contaminated by the federal government, tenants on its lands, and others over the last decade. If not properly managed, contamination of soil and water on federal sites can pose a significant threat to human health and the environment. The Treasury Board Secretariat believes that improving information will enhance the management of contaminated sites.

What we found. The Secretariat maintains and updates its federal contaminated sites inventory using internal standards for input and quality control. Since October 2002, the number of sites in the inventory has nearly doubled. Progress has been made to ensure proper updates of the inventory; however, the database is incomplete and is considered a work in progress. All suspected sites have not been assessed and are not included in the inventory. In addition, the Secretariat does not have a formal monitoring process to ensure that the inventory is updated on a timely basis. The Secretariat has told us that it is improving the inventory's systems and processes. New developments, such as senior level certification on the accuracy and completeness of information, will improve the inventory.

Satisfactory progress

Some progress

Limited or no progress

X  Not assessed