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Annex 1 - Federal Structure

1.0 Introduction

Canada is a confederation of 10 provinces and three territories, administered by a federal government. The provinces are self-governing in the areas of legislative power assigned to them by the Canadian Constitution, as expressed in the Constitution Acts of 1867 and 1982. These areas include local commerce, working conditions, education, direct health care, energy and resources in general.

The Constitution gives the Parliament of Canada legislative power over works declared by it to be for the general advantage of the country. The Parliament of Canada used this declaratory power in the Atomic Energy Control Actof 1946 and again in the Nuclear Energy Act of 2000. It declared certain works and undertakings to be for the general advantage of Canada and therefore subject to federal legislative control. Such works and undertakings are constructed for the following purposes:

  • production, use and application of nuclear energy,
  • research or investigation of nuclear energy, and
  • production, refinement or treatment of nuclear substances.

This means that the federal government is responsible for certain aspects of nuclear energy applications that would otherwise have been under provincial jurisdiction. Examples of these aspects include:

  • occupational health and safety,
  • regulation of boilers and pressure vessels,
  • coordination of federal response to nuclear emergencies, and
  • environmental protection.

Under the Canadian Constitution, provincial laws may also apply in these areas when they are not directly related to nuclear energy and do not conflict with federal law. Because both federal and provincial laws may apply in some regulated areas, the approach taken has been to avoid redundant regulations by seeking cooperative arrangements between the federal and provincial departments and agencies that have responsibilities or expertise in these areas.

Although these cooperative arrangements have been successful in achieving industry compliance, they need a firmer legal basis. The NSCA binds both the federal and provincial governments and the private sector. Like private companies, government departments and agencies must hold a licence from the regulatory body to perform any of the nuclear related activities otherwise prohibited by the NSCA. In addition, the NSCA provides authority for the regulatory body and the Governor-in-Council to incorporate provincial laws by reference and to delegate powers to the provinces in areas better regulated by them or where licensees would otherwise be subject to overlapping regulatory provisions. The major federal government organizations involved in the Canadian nuclear sector are as follows.

1.1 Natural Resources Canada

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is responsible for developing Canadian policy concerning energy sources. NRCan provides federal policy leadership concerning uranium, nuclear energy, and radioactive waste management. NRCan provides expert technical, policy and economic information and advice to the minister and the federal government on issues affecting:

  • Canadian uranium exploration and development,
  • environmental protection,
  • production and supply capability,
  • foreign ownership,
  • domestic and international markets,
  • exports,
  • international trade, and
  • end uses.

The Government of Canada, through NRCan, is responsible for ensuring that the long-term management of radioactive waste is carried out in a safe, environmentally sound, comprehensive, cost-effective and integrated manner. Canada's approach to radioactive waste management is that the producers and owners of radioactive waste are responsible for the funding, organization, management and operation of long-term waste management and other facilities required for their wastes.

NRCan is also responsible for administering the NFWA on behalf of the Minister. The organizational unit responsible for carrying out this function is the Nuclear Fuel Waste Bureau. The Bureau's mandate is to support the Minister of Natural Resources in discharging his responsibilities under the NFWA by overseeing, monitoring, reviewing and commenting on relevant activities of the waste owners and ensuring all NFWA requirements are met. The Bureau's web site address is

NRCan is responsible for policy direction and oversight, including control of funding, for the Government of Canada's NLLP. This program deals with legacy waste and contamination at AECL research sites. AECL carries out the work under the program to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and that health, safety and the environment are protected. NRCan also provides policy direction and funding to the LLRWMO. The LLRWMO is Canada's agent for the management of historic waste.

1.2 Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

The CNSC is Canada's nuclear regulatory body, created by the Governor-in-Council under the NSCA. The CNSC reports to the Canadian Parliament through the Minister of Natural Resources. It is not part of the Department of Natural Resources; however, the Minister of Natural Resources can seek information from the CNSC on its activities. Under the NSCA, the Governor-in-Council may issue directives to the Commission Tribunal of general application on broad policy matters. The Governor-in-Council cannot give direction to the Commission Tribunal on specific licensing matters.

The CNSC is an independent federal regulatory agency and a quasi-judicial administrative tribunal. To serve Canadians, the ultimate outcome of the CNSC work must be the establishment of safe and secure nuclear installations and processes solely for peaceful purposes, and public confidence in the nuclear regulatory regime's effectiveness. Consistent with the federal government's Smart Regulation principles, the CNSC engages in extensive consultation and sharing of information to ensure that the desired results are understood and accepted by stakeholders and licensees.

The CNSC reports to Parliament through the Minister of Natural Resources, but it is an independent entity. This independence is critical for the CNSC to maintain an arms-length relationship with government when making legally binding regulatory decisions. The CNSC is not an advocate of nuclear science or technology. Its mandate and responsibility is to regulate users of nuclear energy or materials to ensure their operations will not pose unreasonable risks to Canadians. The people of Canada are the sole clients of the CNSC.

The CNSC's mission is to "regulate the use of nuclear energy and materials to protect health, safety, security, and the environment and to respect Canada's international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy." In pursuing its mission, the CNSC is working to become one of the best nuclear regulators in the world. The CNSC values quality, integrity, competence, dedication and respect of others.

The CNSC's Regulatory Fundamentals Policy (P-299), which was adopted in January 2005, states that persons and organizations subject to the NCSA and its associated regulations are directly responsible for managing regulated activities in a manner that protects health, safety, security and the environment, while respecting Canada's international obligations. Through Parliament, the CNSC is responsible to the public for assuring that these responsibilities are properly discharged.

1.3 Atomic Energy of Canada Limited

AECL is a Crown Corporation wholly owned by the Government of Canada. AECL designs, markets, sells and builds Canadian-designed CANDU power reactors (including the Advanced CANDU Reactor - ACR ), Multipurpose Applied Physics Lattice Experimental (MAPLE) research reactors, and Modular Air-Cooled Storage (MACSTOR ) Waste Storage Modules.

AECL has developed expertise in the areas of project management, engineering and consulting services, maintenance services, the development of new technologies and decommissioning and waste management. In addition, AECL has ongoing research and development programs that support operating CANDU stations.

AECL works nationally and internationally with Canadian private sector businesses. It is responsible for the operations of the Chalk River Laboratories, the Whiteshell Laboratories and the decommissioning of shutdown facilities on those sites and three prototype reactor sites. AECL provides a national service for the storage of nuclear waste at the CRL site, excluding waste from operating nuclear reactors.

1.4 Low-level Radioactive Waste Management Office

The LLRWMO was established by the Government of Canada to carry out the relevant federal responsibilities for historic low-level radioactive waste management in Canada. The LLRWMO operates under a Memorandum of Understanding between NRCan and AECL. While the LLRWMO receives its funding and policy direction from NRCan, it organizationally established as a separate division of AECL within the Decommissioning and Waste Management Organization of AECL. While the mandate of the LLRWMO is fairly broad, its function is to manage historic wastes. In particular, the LLRWMO is the proponent for the Port Hope Area Initiative. The LLRWMO also provides public information on radioactive wastes.

1.5 Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEA Agency) is charged with the administration of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEA Act, see Annex 2). The CEA Act is a tool for federal decision-makers and establishes an open and balanced process to assess the environmental effects of projects requiring federal action or decision. The CEA Act ensures that the environmental effects of projects are considered as early as possible in a project's planning stages. One of the CEA Act's goals is to provide public participation opportunities in the EA process.

1.6 Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) is charged with promoting nuclear cooperation and safety both bilaterally and multilaterally. DFAIT also implements key non-proliferation and disarmament agreements in Canada and abroad.

Implementation of these agreements requires that Canadian domestic law be consistent with Canada's responsibilities under the agreements. It also requires the capacity to ensure effective monitoring to verify that treaty obligations and commitments are being honored. DFAIT is responsible for the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. In addition, DFAIT oversees foreign policy, including global security issues and is a required interlocutor for dealings with other governments.

1.7 Health Canada

Health Canada is the federal department responsible for helping the people of Canada maintain and improve their health. In the area of radiation protection, HC contributes to maintaining and improving the health of Canadians by investigating and managing the risks from natural and artificial sources of radiation. It accomplishes this mission through:

  • maintaining the National Radioactivity Monitoring Network,
  • developing guidelines for exposure to radioactivity in water, food and air following a nuclear emergency,
  • providing advice and assistance to Environmental Assessments and reviews, as required by the CEAA,
  • providing a full range of dosimetry services to workers through the National Dosimetry Services, the National Dose Registry, the National Calibration Reference Centre and biological dosimetry services,
  • contributing to the control of the design, construction and function of radiation emitting devices imported, sold, or leased in Canada, under the Radiation Emitting Devices Act, and,
  • dministering the Federal Nuclear Emergency Plan.

The National Dosimetry Services, operated through HC, provide occupational monitoring for ionizing radiation to Canadians everywhere. Among the services offered are whole body and extremity thermoluminescent dosimetry services, as well as neutron dosimetry services and dosimetry for uranium miners. The National Dosimetry Services is licensed by the CNSC. The National Dose Registry is a centralized radiation dose record system, managed by HC. It contains the occupational radiation dose records for all the monitored radiation workers in Canada, from the 1940s to the present.

1.8 Environment Canada

Environment Canada's mandate is to:

  • preserve and enhance the quality of the natural environment, including water, air and soil quality,
  • conserve Canada's renewable resources, including migratory birds and other non-domestic flora and fauna,
  • conserve and protect Canada's water resources,
  • carry out meteorology,
  • enforce the rules made by the Canada - United States International Joint Commission, relating to boundary waters, and
  • coordinate environmental policies and programs for the federal government.

Environment Canada administers the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA).

1.9 Transport Canada

Transport Canada's mission is to develop and administer policies, regulations and services for a national transportation system that is safe and secure, efficient, affordable, integrated and environmentally friendly. Transport Canada sets policies, regulations and standards to protect the safety, security and efficiency of Canada's rail, marine, road and air transportation systems. This oversight includes the transportation of dangerous goods, such as nuclear substances and ensuring that related developments can be sustained.

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