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The Commissioner

In Creating Opportunity, the Government made a commitment to establish an Environmental Auditor General. The House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development examined how the Government could best implement this commitment. In May 1994 it released its report entitled The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

The Government's response to the Committee's report is a package of initiatives centred on three prongs:

  • Amendments to the Auditor General Act. The amendments provide for the creation of a Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development in the Office of the Auditor General, and require Ministers to table sustainable development strategies for their departments in Parliament.

  • Openness, transparency and leadership on sustainable development. The response commits departments to prepare the sustainable development strategies in consultation with external stakeholders.

  • Integration of the environment into decision-making. The Government commits to integrate the environment in the development of new initiatives, and to continue its efforts to identify barriers and disincentives to sound environmental practices in its existing policies, programs, laws and regulations.

Amendments to the Auditor General Act

The amendments to the Auditor General Act formally incorporate the environment and sustainable development into the Act and enhance the auditing of the implementation of the government's sustainable development policies and practices. Specifically, the amendments:

  • establish a Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development within the Office of the Auditor General;

  • include a definition of sustainable development;

  • explicitly include environmental effects among the considerations the Auditor General uses to determine the observations to be brought to the attention of Parliament;

  • require Ministers to table in Parliament, within two years of the coming into force of the amendments, sustainable development strategies that include the department's objectives and plans of action to further sustainable development;

  • require the sustainable development strategies to be updated at least every three years on a reasonable efforts basis and tabled in Parliament;

  • authorize the Auditor General to forward petitions from the public on environmental matters to the responsible Ministers for reply;

  • require the responsible Ministers to respond to the petitions within a specified time frame.

Role of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development

  • The Commissioner will report directly to the Auditor General.

  • The Commissioner will assist the Auditor General in carrying out his duties relating to the environment and sustainable development.

  • The Commissioner will report annually to the House of Commons on anything related to the environmental aspects of sustainable development that the Commissioner considers should be brought to their attention. In particular, the Commissioner will monitor and report on the extent to which departments are implementing their sustainable development action plans and meeting their sustainable development goals.

  • Further, the Commissioner will report annually to the House of Commons on the number, subject and status of petitions received by Ministers.


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