Standards relating to the transportation sector in Canada are mostly administered by Environment Canada (responsible for emissions standards for most vehicles) and Transport Canada (responsible for efficiency standards and other transport-related regulations). This page provides on overview of those agencies as well as the Canadian regulatory process.
Established in 1971, Environment Canada (EC) implements the Government of Canada’s environmental agenda. Authority to regulate emissions from internal combustion engines other than those used in aircraft, railway locomotives and commercial marine vessels in Canada currently rests with EC. Emission standards for engines and vehicles, including emission standards for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, are established by EC. EC’s authority to regulate engine emissions—and the air quality in general—is based on the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
Transport Canada is responsible for transportation policies and programs. It promotes safe, secure, efficient and environmentally-responsible transportation. Transport Canada reports to Parliament and Canadians through the minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities.
An Act outlines the process of a regulatory scheme and delegates the authority to develop the details and convey these details in regulations. Regulations are a form of law, and like Acts, are legally binding and usually state rules that apply generally, rather than to specific persons or situations. Regulations are not made by Parliament. Parliament delegates the authority to certain persons or bodies to create regulations, such as the Governor in Council, a Minister or an administrative agency. Authority to make regulations must be authorized by an Act, and is called an enabling Act.
Acts sometimes delegate the creation of documents that have the same legislative effect as regulations, but which are termed differently, such as “by-laws,” “rules,” “tariffs,” “ordinances,” or “orders.” These documents are typically made in the same way as regulations and are subject to the same policy and legal bounds.
See the Guide to Making Federal Acts and Regulations: Part 3 – Making Regulations for more information on the Canadian regulatory process.
Motor Vehicle Safety Act
Motor Vehicle Safety Act regulates the manufacture and importation of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment to reduce the risk of death, injury and damage to property and the environment.
Originally, Transport Canada had the legislative authority for controlling on-road vehicle emissions through the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Legislative authority was transferred from the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to CEPA 1999, effective March 31, 2000. Part 7, Division 5 of CEPA 1999, is based on the legislative scheme set out in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. The Regulations establish a regulatory framework for on-road vehicle and engine emission standards under CEPA 1999 that have many administrative provisions similar to those of the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations. This is designed to make the transition as straightforward as possible for the regulated industry.
Canada’s current regulated emission standards are specified in the Regulations Amending the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (Vehicle Emissions) published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, Vol. 147, No. 4, 13 February 2013.
Canadian Environmental Protection Act
Within the federal government, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) is the primary element of the legislative framework for protecting the Canadian environment and human health. CEPA 1999 came into force on 31 March 2000 and has been amendments over the years.
CEPA 1999 includes provisions to control the quality of fuels. It provides for maximums, minimums or a range of characteristics to be set, and also allows for a performance-based approach to fuel standards. CEPA 1999 incorporates responsibility for regulating emissions from on-road vehicles that were previously contained in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and its regulations and administered by Transport Canada. In addition, CEPA 1999 allows for regulating emissions from engines used in off-road applications.