Video—Departments do not fully inform ministers and the public about important environmental impacts

Audit at a Glance—Departmental Progress in Implementing Sustainable Development Strategies

Video Transcript

Hello. My name is Julie Gelfand, and I am Canada’s federal Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. I want to talk to you about sustainable development in the federal government.

Since 1990, Cabinet has required that 26 government departments and agencies carry out strategic environmental assessments of their proposed programs and policies. Our yearly audits of departments’ and agencies’ progress in implementing their own sustainable development strategies have found that they did not consistently consider the environment in decision making.

In 2015, we found that the current Cabinet directive was applied to only 5 of the more than 1,700 proposals submitted to ministers responsible for Agriculture Canada, the Canada Revenue Agency, Canadian Heritage and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

This means, for example, that no information about potential important environmental effects was provided to support the proposal concerning the 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games. Similarly, the Cabinet directive was not applied to the proposed transfer, for the purposes of building a hospital, of 60 acres of land of designated historic importance.

As a result, ministers were not always getting information on the potential important positive or negative environmental effects of the proposals submitted to them.