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The federal Environmental Violations Administrative Monetary Penalties Act is now in force.

In June 2009, the federal government passed the Environmental Enforcement Act, to amend nine existing environmental statutes and to create the Environmental Violations Administrative Monetary Penalties Act, which came into force December 10, 2010. It was intended to establish minimum penalties and increased maximum penalties for federal environmental offences, make the liabilities and duties of corporate directors and officers consistent across the nine statutes, and mandate that federal environmental fines be paid into the  Environmental Damages Fund. Most of these changes are now in force.

Administrative Monetary Penalties are a halfway house between tickets (such as traffic tickets) and full-scale prosecution. They allow regulators to easily and quickly impose relatively modest financial penalties on those who commit environmental offences. Ontario has been using administrative monetary penalties (called “environmental penalties”) for several years to penalize those who allow spills to occur.  However, the federal Act does not yet have any practical effect, because the necessary supporting regulations have not yet been adopted.

The Environmental Enforcement Act, otherwise known as An Act to amend Certain Acts that Relate to the Environment and to Enact Provisions Respecting the Enforcement of Certain Acts that Relate to the Environment was assented to on June 18, 2009.

The Act amends the penalty schemes, enforcement and sentencing provisions of nine statutes:

(a) the Antarctic Environmental Protection Act;

(b) the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act;

(c) the Canada National Parks Act;

(d) the Canada Wildlife Act;

(e) the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999;

(f) the International River Improvements Act;

(g) the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994;

(h) the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park Act; and

(i) the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act.

Additionally, the Act introduces a new statute, the Environmental Violations Administrative Monetary Penalties Act, concerning administrative monetary penalties.

The Order would bring all provisions of the Act into force on December 10, 2010, except for the provisions amending the penalty scheme of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act1999, the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, the Canada Wildlife Actand the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act.

The Order would bring into force on December 10, 2010 provisions of the Act that would improve the enforcement tools and sentencing authorities of the nine statutes amended by the Act. It would also bring into force provisions that direct all fines collected under those statutes to the Environmental Damages Fund from where they can be used for restoration and other environmental projects. Finally, the Order would bring into force new penalty schemes of five statutes:

(a) the Antarctic Environmental Protection Act;

(b) the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act;

(c) the Canada National Parks Act;

(d) the International River Improvements Act;

(e) the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park Act.

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