Increased Environmental Regulatory Activity Across Canada
Are we seeing a greater environmental regulatory presence across more market segments as well as more environmental regulatory enforcement across the country? It seems the answer to that is yes.
Consider some of the environmental regulatory activity we reported last year that is outside of what you might consider a “traditional” focus by regulators.
Banks and Banking Clients
In November 2022, we shared the news that the Federal Government will require mandatory climate-related disclosures for Canadian Banks and Insurance Companies.
These requirements will also affect banking customers. From our November blog, “According to the blog by MLT Akins, banks and other financial institutions will be expected to collect climate risk evaluation data and emission data from their clients. This means the companies with whom they do business will also need to make climate-related disclosures in order to access financing and other financial services.”
In an August 2022 blog we discussed plans by the Government to reduce nitrogen use by farmers in an effort to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions. From that blog, “As it relates to Canada, and specifically to Canadian farmers, the federal government has set a goal of reducing nitrogen use by 30% by the year 2030.”
New and Developing Regulations
In the past year we also wrote about the Draft Guidance for Reducing GHGs from Oil and Gas Sector, Government Proposals to Reduce Methane from Landfills, and on the consumer level, the ban of certain single use plastic items.
We have also shared news of six- and seven-figure environmental fines for environmental violations. On January 31, 2023, Environment and Climate Change Canada reported that a Construction Company agreed to pay $175,000 to the Environmental Damages Fund.
More Frequent Federal and Provincial Inspections
Our observation of an active environmental-regulatory year was reinforced in a recent law blog.
On January 30, 2023, the Law Firm, Osler, wrote, “…there is a growing trend, both federally and provincially, of more frequent facility inspections and inquiries, a greater tendency to refer administrative and minor non-compliances for investigation, and a general push by regulators to pursue more aggressive enforcement and higher fines.”
Osler reports that there is a growing trend of federal and provincial regulators to:
- carry out more frequent facility inspections and inquiries,
- refer administrative and minor non-compliances for investigation, even if there’s been no negative impact to the environment,
- cooperate and conduct concurrent investigations with other regulators,
- adopt novel strategies to pursue more aggressive enforcement, and
- pursue higher fines, including in the six-figure range.
They also report that The Ontario Ministry of the Environment has increased its scrutiny over spills (especially those involving water or wastewater), hazardous waste, permit compliance, and even (alleged) failures to report minor incidents that have no possible risk of any impact to the environment.
The blog by Osler includes a brief video (“Trends in environmental investigations, enforcement, and prosecutions”). It is an interesting video.
By all indications, there will be more environmental regulatory requirements for businesses from coast-to-coast. Further, it appears that larger fines may be more commonplace.
We will continue to monitor environmental-regulatory activity and share our findings in our blogs and newsletters.
If you need technical assistance with an environmental project, soil and groundwater assessment/remediation, excess soil, litigation support, permitting, etc… contact our office at 519-948-7300.
This blog was drafted by Alan Hahn. Alan has an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies and completed a graduate program in Environmental Management. He has worked in environmental management for 45 years. He has written hundreds of blogs and articles. His published work includes HazMat Magazine, BizX Magazine, Michigan Lawyers Weekly, GreenStone Partners, Manure Manager Magazine, and Progressive Dairy.
This blog was reviewed by Christopher Paré, P.Geo. Chris is a senior geoscientist and manager of Dragun’s Windsor, Ontario, office. Chris has more than 30 years of experience on projects ranging from environmental site assessments (Phase One/Two ESA), remedial investigations, soil and groundwater remediation, Permits to Take Water, Records of Site Conditions, excess soil management, vapour intrusion, and site decommissioning. Chris is a frequent speaker, author, and expert witness. See Chris’ bio.
Sign up for our monthly environmental newsletters.
Principled Foundation | Thoughtful Advice | Smart Solutions
Celebrating our 35th Year 1988-2023