Canadian Council of Ministers
of the Environment

Le Conseil canadien des ministres
de l'environnement



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 Canada-wide policies and a wide range of supporting technical products. More information can be found in the Current Priorities and Resources sections of this website.

♦  Ministers approved a new air quality management system (AQMS) in 2012. 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.

♦   Ministers approved a Canada-wide Approach for the Management of Wastewater Biosolids in 2012.

♦   Ministers approved a Canada-wide Action Plan for Extended Producer Responsibility and a supporting Canada-wide Strategy for Sustainable Packaging in 2009.

♦   Ministers approved a Canada-wide Strategy for the Management of Municipal Wastewater Effluent in 2009.

♦   CCME completed an agreement to guide cooperation on environmental assessments requiring approvals from more than one government in 2009.

♦   Between 2000 and 2006 CCME established 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. (* The Canada-wide standards were not endorsed by Québec, though it acts within its area of jurisdiction in a manner consistent with the standards.)

  • Ambient air quality standards for particulate matter and ground-level ozone - precursors to urban smog (replaced in 2012 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.

♦   Ministers in 1999 agreed to prohibit the bulk removal of surface and groundwater from Canadian watersheds.

♦   With contributions from 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 were developed in conjunction with stakeholders in 1993 and 2006. These principles have been incorporated into legislation in several jurisdictions.

♦   Governments through CCME developed and implemented 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 was taken on chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halocarbons, by which ministers agreed to an initial target for phase-out of ozone depleting substances, then again agreed by consensus to advance the target (1992, 1998,  2001).