Canadian Environmental Protection Act

Overview

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (SC 1999, c. 22) allows for a person to disclose information about the release, or likely release, of a substance into the environment that is in violation of a regulation. These disclosures should be made to an enforcement officer or to a designated person. This Act also prohibits employers from disciplining employees who have made these reports.

What kind of disclosure is protected?

The Act protects any person who voluntarily has disclosed information regarding an offence under this Act or any other environmental protection act to an enforcement officer, as designated under s. 217, or any person to whom a report may be made under the Act s.16(1).

How are whistleblowers protected?

Any person who has disclosed information regarding an offence may request that their identity be kept confidential s.16(2) s.313(1). The Act prohibits any person against disclosing information that could reveal the identity of the person who made the disclosure s.16(3).

If the investigation leads to prosecution, the identity of the person who made the disclosure may be disclosed RPR Environmental v Canada 2016 FCA 270.

No employer shall dismiss, suspend, demote, discipline, harass or otherwise disadvantage an employee, or deny an employee a benefit of employment, by reason that:

  • the employee has made a report under subsection s.16(1);
  • the employee, acting in good faith and on the basis of reasonable belief, has refused or stated an intention of refusing to do anything that is an offence under this Act; or
  • the employee, acting in good faith and on the basis of reasonable belief, has done or stated an intention of doing anything that is required to be done by or under this Act s. 16(4).

The Act prohibits any kind of reprisal against an employee who has made a protected disclosure, who has refused or intended to refuse any actions that would violate this Act, or who has followed the requirements of this Act s.16(4)(a)-(c). Any person who knowingly takes any kind of reprisal against an employee who has disclosed information is guilty of an offence s.272(1) and is liable under the Act s.272(2)-(4).

Penalties and sanctions vary depending on who committed the reprisal, and the nature of the office.

How should disclosures be made?

Be careful! Despite presenting some challenges for follow ups, one of the best protections for whistleblowers is their anonymity. Be cautious when providing any information through electronic means, especially emails! Read the security tips section.

To report illegal activities that threaten wildlife and the environment, contact: 

National Enforcement Headquarters
351 Saint Joseph Blvd., 4th floor
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0H3

Telephone: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only) or 819-938-3860

For more information, visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/environmental-enforcement.html