Provinces, territories and the federal government use the CCME forum to jointly undertake initiatives to address major environmental issues. Through CCME, they have developed a variety of national policies and technical products
- A new air quality management system (AQMS). AQMS is a comprehensive approach for improving air quality in Canada and is the product of unprecedented collaboration by the federal, provincial and territorial governments and stakeholders. It includes:
- New Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS) to set the bar for outdoor air quality management across the country
- Industrial emission requirements that set a base level of performance for major industries in Canada
- A framework for air zone air management within provinces and territories that enables action tailored to specific sources of air emissions in a given area
- Regional airsheds that facilitate coordinated action where air pollution crosses a border
- Improved intergovernmental collaboration to reduce emissions from the transportation sector
- Completion of an agreement to guide their cooperation on environmental assessments requiring approvals from both governments.
- Establishment of Canada-wide standards* to protect the health of Canadians through improved environmental quality. The standards include a numeric limit and a timeline for attainment, as well as a schedule for reporting on progress.
- ambient air quality standards for particulate matter and ground-level ozone - precursors to urban smog (replaced by CAAQS for PM2.5 and ozone under AQMS)
- mercury emission standards covering incineration, base metal smelting, and coal-fired power generation, as well as additional mercury standards for emissions from dental amalgam and from fluorescent lamps - mercury is a potent neurotoxin that bioconcentrates through the aquatic food web
- national target to reduce benzene emissions - a carcinogen
- dioxins and furans emission standards from waste incineration, from the coastal pulp and paper sector, as well as from iron sintering and steel-making operations - persistent, toxic, and bioaccumulative substances
- standards for clean-up of sites contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons in soil.
- From 1997 to 2009 CCME sponsored the Pollution Prevention Awards Program to give national recognition to companies and organizations showing cutting-edge accomplishment and leadership in pollution prevention.
- Agreement to prohibit the export in bulk of water from Canadian watersheds.
- A Policy on the Management of Toxic Substances, which envisions a cooperative approach and a multilateral process for identifying, assessing, screening and managing national priority toxic substances.
- With industry, municipalities, environmental groups, and the actions of Canadians, the 50% packaging waste reduction target set in 1989 in the National Packaging Protocol was achieved four years ahead of the schedule set out by CCME. The multistakeholder National Task Force on Packaging conducted studies, collected data, and prepared guidelines and best practices to help industry and jurisdictions attain the reduction targets.
- Principles for contaminated site liability (1993 and 2006), developed in conjunction with stakeholders. These principles have been incorporated into legislation in several jurisdictions.
- Development and implementation of a plan for the phase-out, storage and ultimate destruction of industrial PCBs in Canada. CCME guidelines for managing wastes containing PCBs are used in most jurisdictions.
- Coordinated action on chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halocarbons, under which ministers agreed to an initial target for phase-out of ozone depleting substances, then again agreed by consensus to advance the target.
- A national action plan to encourage municipal water-use efficiency, which promoted a consistent approach to using water more efficiently, saving on infrastructure costs and reducing pollution loads.
* The Canada-wide standards were not endorsed by Québec, though it acts within its area of jurisdiction in a manner consistent with the standards.
- A multi-barrier approach to the protection of drinking water for Canadians from the source to the tap, targeted for use by governments, owners and operators of drinking water systems.
- Revised and integrated Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines, available online with a supporting master summary table.
- A national water quality index as a means to provide consistent procedures for Canadian jurisdictions to report water quality information to both management and the public.
- A national classification system for contaminated sites, as well as a comprehensive set of guidance manuals promoting the consistent assessment and remediation of contaminated sites across Canada, including: soil quality guidelines; sub-surface; site-specific objectives; and guidelines for ecological risk assessment.
- Coordinated action to lower smog levels in problem areas of the country, under which numerous technical guidelines have been developed to help reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds (precursors of smog) from their various sources.
- Guidance documents on a variety of municipal and hazardous waste topics, including: composting; solid, hazardous, or biomedical waste incinerators; supplementary fuels in cement kilns; and recycling lubricating oils.