Species at Risk Program: Results-Based Management and Accountability Framework and Risk-Based Audit Framework

2. Program Profile

2.1 Context

In 1992, Canada signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Rio de Janeiro. CBD objectives include the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of biological resources, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. One of Canada’s responses to the CBD was the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy (1996). The Strategy is an umbrella for a range of initiatives including the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, the Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk, and the Species at Risk Act. 

The provinces and territories hold primary responsibility for terrestrial wildlife species in Canada and for the management of provincial and territorial lands upon which many species rely, while the federal government exercises direct responsibility for aquatic species, migratory birds, and for species found on federal lands. Conservation therefore requires a collaborative approach with recognition and coordination of activities across all jurisdictions.

The Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk and Provincial Legislation

The Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk (1996) outlines commitments by federal, provincial and territorial (F/P/T) Ministers to designate species at risk, protect their habitats, and develop recovery plans as well as complementary legislation, regulations, policies and programs (including stewardship). Under the Accord, it is understood that the provinces2 and territories will undertake actions and enforce prohibitions for the conservation of species at risk under their jurisdiction. The Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC), comprising F/P/T Ministers responsible for conservation and management of species at risk, was established under the Accord and provides general direction on the activities of COSEWIC, the preparation of recovery strategies and the preparation and implementation of actions plans. Provinces and territories have policies and legislation frameworks in place regarding species at risk. 

Species at Risk Act

The Species at Risk Act was proclaimed in June 2003 and came into force in stages during 2003 and 2004. The purposes of the Act are to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct; to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened. The Act is consistent with commitments set out in the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy, the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, and other existing laws and agreements (both federal and provincial) that provide for the legal protection of wildlife species and conservation of biological diversity. Under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk (the Accord) the federal, provincial and territorial governments committed to protect species at risk in their own jurisdictions. The federal Species at Risk Act ensures legal protection for species at risk and their residences on federal land, for aquatic species and for migratory birds protected by the Migratory Birds Convention Act.

More specifically, the Act

  • recognizes the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as an independent body of experts responsible for assessing and identifying species at risk;

  • creates prohibitions to protect wildlife species listed as an extirpated, endangered or threatened species, their residences and their critical habitat;

  • requires the preparation of recovery strategies for species listed as an extirpated, endangered or threatened species, including the identification of critical habitat

  • requires the preparation of action plans based on recovery strategies, including the identification of critical habitat

  • requires the preparation of management plans for wildlife species listed as species of special concern

  • provides the power to competent Ministers3 to enter into agreements or issue permits authorizing activity affecting a listed wildlife species, their residence or critical habitat

  • requires projects that require environmental assessments to identify the adverse effects of the project on the listed wildlife species and its critical habitat and ensure that measures are taken to avoid or lessen those effects and monitor them;

  • provides the power to the Governor in Council to make an emergency order to provide for the protection of a listed wildlife species; and

  • creates a public registry for the purpose of facilitating access to documents relating to matters under this Act.

For listed species other than aquatic species, migratory birds and species on federal land, the provinces and territories have the responsibility to provide effective protection. If the province or territory does not provide effective protection, the Governor in Council may order, on the recommendation of the Minister,4 that the general prohibitions apply for a given species in a province or territory.

Federal / Provincial / Territorial Program Coordination

Several mechanisms have been developed to coordinate SAR Program implementation across the various jurisdictions. These include intergovernmental committees (see Section 2.6), the new National Framework for Species at Risk Conservation (NFSARC), and negotiated bilateral agreements.

The NFSARC (2007) was developed to support the Accord and SARA implementation by providing a set of common principles, objectives and overall approaches to facilitate cooperation among all jurisdictions. For SARA, the framework will be supported by policies and guidelines for the key steps in the species at risk conservation cycle to help operationalize SARA program activities.

Bilateral agreements are used to formalize F/P/T species at risk cooperation on species identification, recovery planning and implementation. The agreements provide the administrative framework within which both parties can cooperatively exercise their respective powers to ensure a coordinated and focused approach to the delivery of species at risk policies, programs and activities. Each agreement is supported by a Species at Risk Coordinating Committee (SARCC). As of October 2007, three agreements are in place (British Columbia, Quebec and Saskatchewan), four are in the final stages of negotiation (Alberta, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories and Yukon), and five more are in active negotiation (Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario and Prince Edward Island).

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2.2 Program Objectives and Links to Core Department Objectives

The key objectives of SARA are to

  • prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct;
  • provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity; and
  • manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened.

The SAR Program funding supports strategic objectives and program activities within each of the three core departments. Linkages to the core departments’ 2008 key results areas and program activity architecture (PAA) are shown below. The core departments' official PAA structure includes several activities associated with the SAR Program and related wildlife conservation, protection, outreach and public education activities. This results-based structure is currently being streamlined to ensure that planning, budgeting and reporting are focused on the achievement of results and reflect the NFSARC. An alignment of the SAR Program outputs and outcomes to the department/agency 2008 PAA has been presented in Annex A.

Environment Canada

The SAR Program supports results under the Biodiversity and Wildlife Program and the Chemicals Management Program. The three sub-activities and related sub-sub-activities that are linked with the SAR Program are shown in the following table.

Table 1: Contribution to Environment Canada’s 2008 Results Areas
Program Area: Biodiversity and Wildlife Program
Sub-activitySub-sub-activity
Wildlife Program
  • Species at Risk Program
  • National Wildlife Issues Program
Lands and Landscapes Program
  • Conservation Partnerships and Programs
Program Area: Chemicals Management Program
Risk Management Program
  • Enforcement

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SARA complements a number of conventions and acts administered by Environment Canada, including

  • the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora;
  • the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD);
  • the Canada Wildlife Act (CWA);
  • the Migratory Birds Convention Act (MBCA);
  • the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEEA);
  • the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) and
  • the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA).

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

SAR Program implementation at DFO contributes to the strategic outcome Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture (SFA), which includes a program sub-activity to support the assessment and recovery of species at risk (under the Science Program Activity). The Species at Risk Program also indirectly fosters another DFO strategic outcome, Healthy and Productive Aquatic Ecosystems (HAPAE), which includes Habitat Management. Conservation and Protection, a sub-activity under both SFA and HAPAE, is also supported by the SAR Program.

SARA also complements a number of conventions and acts administered by DFO or under which it undertakes significant activities:

  • the Fisheries Act;
  • the Oceans Act;
  • the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act;
  • the Federal Real Property and Federal Immovables Act; and
  • the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The Fisheries Act applies to all aquatic species (marine and freshwater), as defined in the Act. The focus of the Act is primarily on managing fisheries, although the Act also contains numerous provisions for the protection and conservation of fish habitat. Under the Oceans Act, DFO may create marine protected areas to protect critical habitat for species at risk. Both acts provide for alternative and complementary management tools and approaches for protecting aquatic species and their habitat.

Parks Canada

Species at Risk (a Parks Canada sub-sub-activity) contributes to results under three of six core Program activities as shown in the following table:

Table 2: Contribution to Parks Canada’s 2008 Program Activities
Program ActivitySub-activity
Program Activity 2 – Heritage Resources Conservation
  • National Parks Conservation
    • Species at Risk
  • National Marine Conservation Areas Sustainability
Program Activity 3 – Public Appreciation and Understanding
  • Outreach Education and Agency Communication
  • Engagement
Program Activity 4 – Visitor Experience
  • National Parks Interpretation
  • National Historic Sites Interpretation
  • National Marine Conservation Areas Interpretation

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SARA complements five acts administered by PC:

  • the Canada National Parks Act;
  • the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act;
  • the Historic Sites and Monuments Act;
  • the Parks Canada Act;and
  • the Saguenay-St-Lawrence Marine Park Act.

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2.3 Delivery Approach and Key Activities

The SAR Conservation Cycle is used by the core departments to illustrate and describe the federal approach to species at risk conservation management. The cycle comprises five interdependent elements, each with a separate budget and plan. The delivery of activities under these elements is supported by a number of horizontal support and governance mechanisms that integrate and coordinate activities across the cycle. The SAR Conservation Cycle is shown in Figure 1 and described below.

Figure 1:  The Species at Risk Conservation Cycle

This figure graphically depicts the Species at Risk Conservation Cycle and its elements: Assessment, Protection, Recovery Planning, Implementation, and Monitoring and Evaluation in an oval formation with arrows running in a clockwise fashion from element to element illustrating that it is a continuous cycle. In the middle of the oval is the title, “Species at Risk Conservation Cycle”.

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Assessment

Objective: To formally identify, on the basis of science, those species that are at risk, or are tending towards becoming at risk, so that appropriate steps may be planned and implemented to protect and / or recover them.

The species assessment process is conducted by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), which operates at arm's length from the core departments. COSEWIC uses available biological information on species deemed to be in some danger of disappearing from Canada to assess the risk status. It reviews information on population and habitat status, trends and threats from commissioned status reports and from unsolicited status reports received with an application from the public; uses community and Aboriginal traditional knowledge (ATK); and applies assessment criteria based on international standards. The core departments are responsible for providing input to the assessment phase (e.g., providing data to COSEWIC, assigning two members from each jurisdiction, and reviewing COSEWIC species status reports by COSEWIC). The result is an assessment of the status of wildlife species that classifies a species as: extinct, extirpated, endangered, threatened, of special concern, data deficient, or not at risk5COSEWIC’s assessments and supporting status reports are provided to the Minister of the Environment once a year and are publicly available through the SAR Public Registry.

Protection (Response and Listing)

Objective: to protect species at risk and their residences from being harmed. Protection measures precede the development of a plan or strategy that will detail the recovery goals and objectives and the actions needed to reach these objectives.

Upon receipt of a COSEWIC assessment, the Minister has 90 days to include a report on the SAR Public Registry indicating how he or she intends to respond to the assessment, and to the extent possible, provide timelines for action. The timelines for action pertain to the nature of public consultations and when it is anticipated that the assessment will be forwarded to the Governor in Council (GIC) for receipt. 

The Act requires the GIC to make a listing decision within nine (9) months of receiving the COSEWIC assessment. The GIC, informed by a recommendation from the Minister, may decide to add species to, or remove species from, Schedule 1 of SARA, refer the matter back to COSEWIC for further information or consideration, not to add species to Schedule 1, or add species to Schedule 1 on an emergency basis. In order to make a decision on whether to amend the List of Wildlife Species at Risk, a number of factors must be considered. This is done through consideration of the scientific assessment, the conservation needs of the species, the analysis of the social and economic consequences, consultations with Canadians, and any other relevant factors.

SARA contains provisions for authorizing activities that would be prohibited under sections 32 and 33. Under section 73 of SARA, agreements or permits may be entered into or issued for an activity that would otherwise be prohibited if the activity meets specific criteria.

SARA compliance will be sought through two types of activities: compliance promotion and enforcement. Measures to promote compliance include communication and publication of information, education, and consultation with parties affected by the Act. Enforcement activities under SARA include inspection to verify compliance, investigations of violations, and measures to compel compliance through court action.

Recovery Planning

Objective: To establish recovery goals, objectives and approaches for the recovery of species at risk and identify appropriate measures and actions to effectively achieve those goals.

Species recovery includes a wide range of measures to restore populations of species at risk. Under SARA, the competent Ministers must prepare recovery strategies and action plans for extirpated, endangered or threatened species, and management plans for species of special concern. To the extent possible, these strategies and plans are prepared in co-operation with appropriate provincial and territorial Ministers, Government of Canada Ministers, land claim agreement authorities, wildlife management boards, Aboriginal organizations and/or other persons or organizations. They must also be prepared in consultation with any landowners and other persons, including governments of other countries that are considered to be directly affected by the strategy. 

Recovery strategies identify threats to the species and its habitat, and outline the strategies to successfully recover a species at risk. The strategic document describes the goals (outcomes) for the species, objectives (what is required to achieve the goals), approach (how to go about doing it), the species’ critical habitat to the extent possible, and the timeline for completing one or more action plans. Recovery strategies are posted on the SAR Public Registry for a 60-day comment period and may or may not be revised as per comments.

Recovery action plans6 are developed to outline the projects or activities required to meet the recovery goals and objectives outlined in the recovery strategy. This includes activities to address knowledge gaps, alleviate threats, protect species at risk and their residence, increase population abundance and distribution, and identify and protect critical habitat. The socio-economic costs and benefits of implementing the plan must also be evaluated.

The Act outlines specific timelines for the preparation of recovery strategies, action and management plans.

Table 3: Timelines for Recovery Planning Documents
 For species included in the List of Wildlife Species (Schedule 1) on June 5, 2003For species added to the List of Wildlife Species (Schedule 1) after June 5, 2003
Recovery strategies for endangered speciesWithin three yearsWithin one year
Recovery strategies for threatened or extirpated speciesWithin four yearsWithin two years
Management plan for species of special concernWithin five yearsWithin three years

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Implementation

Objective: To implement recovery actions on federal lands and for federal species and to encourage, through partnerships, the implementation of recovery actions by partners, Aboriginal people and stakeholders, in order to meet the goals and objectives identified in the recovery planning stage.

Implementation is the process by which the actions identified in the recovery planning stage are carried out to achieve the recovery goals, objectives and strategies. This includes actions identified in both action plans and management plans.

Successful implementation is highly dependent upon effective stewardship, where governments, Canadians and other interest groups and stakeholders work together in a coordinated way to achieve their goals. Stewardship is based on the premise that responsibility for recovery of species at risk is shared by all those who have an impact on them and that, through a co-operative approach, we can achieve better results. As such, implementation can involve a wide range of stakeholder groups, such as provinces, territories, land claim agreement authorities, wildlife management boards, landowners, managers and developers, Aboriginal communities and industry, to name a few. The activities carried out by these groups can also be quite varied and might include activities such as education and outreach, habitat restoration or creation, or application of prohibitions. The federal government plays a key role in funding projects, which fosters coordination and collaboration among participants and encourages timely and effective action.

The SAR Program provides funds to support the recovery of SAR and their habitat through the Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP) for Species at Risk, the Interdepartmental Recovery Fund (IRF), Aboriginal Funds for Species at Risk that include two funds: the Aboriginal Capacity Building Fund (ACBF), and the Aboriginal Critical Habitat Fund (ACHF) and the Endangered Species Recovery Fund (ESRF). Details on these programs are shown in the following table.

Table 4: Primary SAR Funding Programs
 
ProgramDescriptionAnnual Funding
Habitat Stewardship ProgramHSP provides support to recipients for projects that secure or protect habitat to protect species at risk and support their recovery; mitigate threats to species at risk caused by human activity; and support activities identified in recovery strategies. The fund is administered by Environment Canada on a regional basis. Regional implementation boards (with representatives from the three core departments, P/Ts, land claim agreement authorities, and others where appropriate) provide advice on priorities, program direction and project selection for their region.$14M7
Interdepartmental Recovery FundIRF supports actions by any federal department to identify and alleviate / mitigate the threats to species at risk caused as a result of federal activities.$3M
Aboriginal Capacity Building FundACBF assists Aboriginal organizations and communities to build capacity for the protection and recovery of species at risk.$3.3M
Aboriginal Critical Habitat Protection FundACHPF is directed toward the identification and protection of critical habitat on Aboriginal lands.
Endangered Species Recovery FundESRF supports research and education efforts and is comanaged by Environment Canada and the World Wildlife Fund Canada, with PC and DFO involvement in the development and management.$420K

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The core departments may also enter into conservation agreements with any government in Canada, organization or individual to benefit a species at risk. The agreements provide for conservation measures consistent with the purposes of SARA and can include measures for monitoring the status of the species, developing and implementing education and public awareness programs, developing and implementing recovery strategies, action plans, and management plans, and protecting the species habitat.

As a final activity of implementation, the core departments must review projects that require environmental assessments (Canadian Environmental Assessment Act) to ensure that adverse effects of projects on the listed wildlife species and their critical habitat are identified and that measures will be taken to avoid or mitigate those effects.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Objective: To detect changes in the status of the species, to determine the effectiveness of protection and recovery measures, to measure progress towards achieving the set recovery goals, and to examine the effectiveness of the administration of SARA, in order to ensure continual improvement of the SAR Program.

Monitoring starts with an inventory of wildlife species along with population status and trends, ecological function, and a way of tracking information. The responsible Minister then uses this information to publish a report on the general status of wildlife species every five years.
The competent Ministers must monitor the implementation of recovery strategies, action plans and management plans and the progress towards meeting their objectives, and assess and report on their implementation and their ecological and socio-economic impacts five years after the strategies or plans come into effect.

The core departments are required to monitor the administration of SARA, including monitoring of the Minister’s responses to COSEWIC’s assessments, requests for emergency listing, preparation and implementation of recovery strategies, action plans and management plans, administration and funding agreements, agreements and permits, enforcement and compliance actions taken, and regulation and emergency orders. The core departments must also monitor any mitigation measures required as a result of CEAA assessments. A report on the administration of SARA is provided to Parliament every year.

Under SARA, the Minister must, at least once every two years, convene a round table of persons interested in matters respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada to advise the Minister on those matters. Any written recommendations and associated Minister’s response are included on the Public Registry.

Furthermore, the core departments must provide support to evaluations of the SAR Program as well as the parliamentary review of SARA.

Horizontal Support Mechanisms

The SAR Cycle is supported by a number of interdepartmental horizontal support mechanisms that provide for an integrated approach to policy development, planning and delivery. These mechanisms fall within two funded SAR Program areas, namely Program Development and Management, and Other Related Activities, as described below. 

  • Program Development and Management: Includes support for national policy, legislation and regulation development on species at risk, secretariat support to bodies created by the legislation (e.g., CESCC and the NACOSAR), ensuring national consistency in the development and implementation planning of SARA with key partners, Aboriginal people and stakeholders, maintaining the SAR Public Registry, developing the report on the status of wildlife species in Canada (every five years) and the annual report to Parliament on SARA implementation.

  • Other Related Activities: Includes support for socio-economic analysis at the listing and recovery planning stages, legal work and environmental assessment.

These support mechanisms account for $22.2 million (i.e., 22.2%) of the total annual budget of $100 million from 2007-2008 to 2011-2012, and for $16 million (i.e., 21.3%) of the total ongoing annual budget of $75 million starting from 2012-2013. These activities are integral to the delivery of each element of the SAR cycle and are reflected / integrated, where possible, in the discussion of program results and indicators for each of the elements. Where required, the evaluation approach (issues, performance and risk indicators) addresses the mechanisms explicitly.

Foundational Elements

Supporting the implementation of the SAR Conservation Cycle is a set of foundational elements (i.e., structures, activities and tools). These elements are reflected, as appropriate, throughout this framework, in particular in the program logic models, performance indicators, and evaluation issues.

Table 5: Species at Risk Program Foundational Elements
Foundational ElementDescription
ConservationConservation of biodiversity is the ultimate goal, as put forth in the Convention on Biological DiversityThis goal must lie at the heart of all decisions and actions related to the identification, protection and recovery of species at risk. Efforts must focus on preventative approaches and early intervention to prevent species from becoming at risk.
Governance and Legal FrameworkImplementation of the SAR conservation cycle will recognize the legislative frameworks of federal/provincial/territorial governments, the provisions of treaties and land claim agreements, and the role of wildlife management boards in the process. The core departments will ensure that a formal governance structure and supporting and advisory structures are in place for decision making and that these structures are able to interact with other jurisdictional decision-making structures.
KnowledgeThe core departments will seek and incorporate the best available information into their decision making. Science-based information, Aboriginal traditional knowledge and community knowledge are of particular importance in this respect, as is a precautionary approach.
ConsultationThe core departments will recognize and fulfill their responsibilities to consult with partners, Aboriginal people and stakeholders on species at risk matters.
Socio-economic AnalysisSocio-economic factors and information will be incorporated into decision making (including protection, recovery planning and implementation), as appropriate. Socio-economic analysis should be undertaken on a priority basis, to the appropriate level of detail, when decisions are likely to have significant impacts. Socio-economic analysis should include cooperation and information sharing with participating jurisdictions, and incorporate peer review where suitable.
Stewardship, Education and AwarenessThe core departments will promote the adoption of a range of stewardship and voluntary actions for protection and recovery of species at risk. This includes working with partners to increase awareness, build capacity and increase participation of Canadians so that they increasingly do the right things for the environment. Measures such as education, incentives or provision of scientific and technical assistance to participants will be strongly encouraged, backed up by enforcement of a regulatory framework where required.

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Departmental Program Descriptions

2.4 Partners

The responsibility for the conservation of wildlife in Canada is shared with the SAR Program partners. SAR Program partners include:

  • federal departments/agencies whose activities may affect species at risk;
  • provincial and territorial governments and natural resource departments; and
  • land claim agreement authorities and wildlife management boards.

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2.5 Aboriginal People

Collaboration with Aboriginal people is key to the protection of SAR, to the delivery of SAR Program results and to meeting the core departments’ obligations. Therefore, Aboriginal people are involved throughout the Species at Risk Conservation Cycle. Furthermore, land claim agreement authorities and wildlife management boards are considered Program partners as described above.

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2.6 Stakeholders

Program stakeholders are many and vary by SAR element and core department.  Stakeholders are involved throughout the cycle (assessment, protection, recovery planning implementation and monitoring and evaluation) and formal consultations are required at several stages. Furthermore, stakeholders provide input to the assessment process (e.g., species data) and support stewardship activities / projects. The engagement and co-operation of stewards is also critical to the successful delivery of species at risk results. Stakeholders include  

  • individual Canadians;
  • landowners;
  • regional and municipal governments;
  • resource industries (fisheries, forestry, agriculture, mining, oil and gas, hydroelectricity) and other industry, companies and associations;
  • environmental non-government organizations (ENGOs) (e.g., Nature Conservancy of Canada, Nature Canada, Ducks Unlimited, World Wildlife Fund, Sierra Club, David Suzuki Foundation);
  • museums (e.g., for information and public education on plants, mosses, migratory birds and aquatic species);
  • Nature Serve and Conservation Data Centres; and
  • universities

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2.7 Roles and Responsibilities

This section provides information on the roles, responsibilities and accountabilities of the core departments carrying out activities under the Act. The competent Ministers have the authority to make decisions in their areas of responsibility. Orders in Council required under SARA, such as orders to list species under the Act, are made by the Governor in Council (GIC) on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment. 

Environment Canada

Environment Canada is the lead department for SARA legislation and is responsible for recovery planning for all listed species that do not fall under the responsibility of DFO or PC. The Minister of the Environment is also responsible for the protection and recovery of migratory birds under the Migratory Birds Convention Act across Canada.

The Department is responsible for the overall coordination of the federal species at risk strategy, including the implementation of federal activities in support of the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk in Canada (the Accord) and the administration of the Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP) for Species at Risk and the Interdepartmental Recovery Fund (IRF). Furthermore, the Department is currently developing a quality management system for regulatory programs, including the Species at Risk Act, in order to promote clarity and transparency of decision-making, ensure consistent and efficient processes for seeking senior and ministerial approvals, and provide a benchmark for continuous improvement of decision making processes with respect to legislative programs at Environment Canada.

Environment Canada’s departmental accountabilities for the SAR Program are directly assigned to the Associate Assistant Deputy Minister of the Environmental Stewardship Branch (Associate ADM, ESB). Furthermore, the Chief Enforcement Office (CEO) is also accountable for certain outputs and outcomes related to wildlife enforcement. For specific accountabilities regarding the outputs and outcomes of the Program please refer to Table 13.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is responsible for administrating the provisions of the Act related to aquatic species; undertaking listing consultations and providing listing recommendations to the Minister of the Environment; developing recovery strategies and action plans for all aquatic species; and promoting recovery implementation and monitoring of marine and anadromous (moves between fresh and salt water) species where the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction and for freshwater species where certain provinces have specific delegated responsibilities related to fisheries management through regulations under the Fisheries Act.

The Minister is responsible for implementing the necessary conservation and protection measures under the Species at Risk Act for aquatic species on the list of wildlife species at risk. Aquatic species include marine mammals, fish and marine plant species as defined under the federal Fisheries Act.

DFO’s departmental accountabilities for the SAR Program are shared between the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Oceans and Habitat Sector (ADM, O&HS) and the regional Directors General (regional DGs). Furthermore, the staff officer (SO), SARA, is also accountable for certain outputs and outcomes related to wildlife enforcement. For specific accountabilities regarding the outputs and outcomes of the Program, please refer to Table 13.

Parks Canada

Parks Canada is responsible for the development of recovery strategies, action plans and management plans for those species that occur in Canada, primarily in protected heritage areas administered by PC. Protected heritage areas include: 42 national parks, 3 marine conservation areas, and approximately 150 national historic sites. PC also collaborates with DFO and EC for the protection and recovery of species that are found outside PC lands, when appropriate. PC is also involved in the development and management of SAR funding programs such as HSP and IRF.

PC’s departmental accountabilities for the SAR Program are shared between the Directors General for National Parks (NP), External Relations and Visitor Experience (ER&VE), East (E) and West and North (W&N). Furthermore, the Head, Resource Protection and Operation (H, RP&O), is also accountable for certain outputs and outcomes related to wildlife enforcement. For specific PC accountabilities regarding the outputs and outcomes of the Program, please refer to Table 13.

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2.8 Governance Structure

Following the Formative Evaluation, all elements of SARA governance were reviewed and a number of steps taken to strengthen the governance structure. 

SAR governance is separated into two components: the formal governance structure and the supporting and advisory structures.

Formal Governance Structures

The federal department / agency roles and responsibilities for SARA implementation are described in Section 2.7. In summary, the Minister of the Environment has overall lead responsibility for the administration of the SARA, in cooperation with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. Since 2003, the Minister of the Environment has been designated the responsible Minister for Parks Canada. The Ministers are responsible and accountable to Parliament for their respective programs and results. The governance approach to SAR within the three core departments is as follows:

  • Environment Canada: All major departmental decisions are made through the Executive Management Council (EMC). Priority Management Boards are responsible for setting priorities related to strategic results and providing ongoing direction to the work carried out in support of these priorities. The Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) provides support to the SARA management structure and coordinates work among all partners involved in species at risk.

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada: A corporate DFO SARA secretariat reporting to the ADM Oceans & Habitat has been established to oversee and coordinate SARA-related activities. The Special Advisor to the DM for species at risk (an Assistant Deputy Minister-level position) complements the work of this group. Two committees (the Species At Risk Coordination des Espèces en Péril Committee and the Species at Risk Director General Committee) comprising of representatives from each of the six regions and four sectors (Oceans and Habitat, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Policy, and Science) at the working and the Director General levels respectively, play lead roles in the coordination and policy direction for the SAR Program.

  • Parks Canada: Parks Canada’s Executive Board is the senior decision-making body and is responsible to setting the strategic direction for the SAR Program. The Agency’s Finance Committee is responsible for resource allocation. Responsibilities for policy development, national coordination and reporting rests with the Director General, National Parks and the Director General, External Relations and Visitor Experience. Priority setting and coordination for implementation are the responsibility of the Director General, East and Director General, West and North. The Aboriginal Secretariat and Aboriginal Advisors support field units for Aboriginal involvement and consultation.

Two national coordinating structures support Program implementation:

  • Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC): The CESCC, established under the 1996 Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk and legally mandated under SARA, comprises the Minister of the Environment, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and Ministers of the provincial / territorial governments who are responsible for the conservation and management of a wildlife species. The role of CESCC is to provide general direction on the activities of COSEWIC; review and provide guidance on recovery planning and actions; coordinate the activities of the various governments represented on the Council relating to the protection of species at risk; and seek and consider advice and recommendations from the National Aboriginal Council on Species at Risk (NACOSAR).

  • The Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers: This committee comprises federal, provincial and territorial Ministers responsible for fisheries and aquaculture and plays a national coordinating role on issues involving aquatic species.

Federal coordinating structures have been established to support a consistent policy approach and guide the implementation of the SAR Program. These are the following:

  • The Deputy Head Steering Committee (DHSC) (also known as SAR Associate DMs Committee) comprises the Deputy Ministers of Environment and Fisheries and Oceans and the Chief Executive Officer of Parks Canada. The Committee reviews key strategies and issues for submission to Ministers; makes recommendations to Ministers on funding proposals; provides advice to Ministers participating in the CESCC and assesses the progress and future direction of the SAR Program.

  • The Assistant Deputy Ministers Committee (ADMC) (also known as SAR ADMs committee) includes one official representative from each core department and is responsible for the overall management of SARA implementation. The ADMC reports to the DHSC and meets at least four times per year to
    • approve SARA policies and ensure a coordinated approach to the implementation of federal programs and initiatives;
    • provide recommendations to the DHSC on program and policy issues;
    • report on progress and performance;
    • establish priorities and ensure a consistent federal approach at F/P/T meetings (e.g., the CESCC);
    • assign responsibilities and form working groups; and
    • make other decisions as required to implement the Program.

      The ADMC makes decisions on priority projects (based on recommendations from SARCCs and national committees) including those under the Habitat Stewardship Program, the Aboriginal Critical Habitat Protection Fund, the Aboriginal Capacity Building Fund and the Interdepartmental Recovery Fund. All funding proposals are examined and allocation decisions for funding are made by the ADMC according to established priorities utilizing business cases put forward against priorities set by the Committee. 

  • Director General Operations (DG Ops) Committee comprises DG-level managers from the core departments and is chaired by the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) DG. The Committee makes decisions with respect to operational issues and provides advice on program directions to the ADMC. Responsibilities are to

    • develop and maintain a coordinated work plan;
    • iIdentify program and policy issues and propose solutions;
    • approve guidelines to implement policies;
    • monitor overall Program progress and results;
    • prepare integrated reports on progress and performance for review by the ADMC and DHSC;
    • advise ADMC on program pressures and resource proposals;
    • provide support to the ADMC; and
    • issues management

Supporting and Advisory Structures

In addition to the formal governance structure, there are a number of groups that play a supporting and advisory role in the delivery of the SAR Program. These include

  • the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC);
  • the National Aboriginal Council on Species at Risk (NACOSAR);
  • the Species at Risk Coordinating Committee(s) (SARCC);
  • the Canadian Wildlife Directors Committee (CWDC);
  • the Species at Risk Advisory Committee (SARAC);
  • the Recovery of Nationally Endangered Wildlife (RENEW) Working Group (formerly the National Recovery Working Group);
  • the National General Status Working Group; and
  • the Aquatic Species at Risk Task Group.

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) provides advice to government on the status of wildlife species and was established for the first time as a legal entity under the Species at Risk ActCOSEWIC members are appointed on the basis of their wildlife conservation expertise and may originate from federal, provincial and territorial governments, wildlife management boards, Aboriginal groups, universities, museums and national non-governmental organizations. Members are appointed by the Minister of the Environment after consultation with CESCC and appropriate experts. The Committee is supported by a Secretariat funded and staffed by Environment Canada. 

COSEWIC operates at arm's length from government. The role of COSEWIC is to assess and classify the status of wildlife species using the best available information on the biological status of a species, including scientific knowledge, community knowledge, and Aboriginal traditional knowledge. COSEWIC currently meets twice a year to assess species considered at risk, classify wildlife species and report to the CESCCSARA obliges COSEWIC to review the classification of species every 10 years.

COSEWIC has 10 Subcommittees, including one for Aboriginal traditional knowledge (ATK) (a requirement under the Act) and others for species groups (e.g., marine mammals).

National Aboriginal Council on Species at Risk

The National Aboriginal Council on Species at Risk (NACOSAR) is an advisory council comprising of six representatives of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada selected by the Minister of the Environment based on recommendations from Aboriginal organizations. The role of the Council is to advise the Minister on the administration of the Act and provide advice and recommendations to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) under section 8.1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA).

Species at Risk Coordinating Committees

SARCCs are established between the federal and provincial / territorial governments to facilitate coordination of F/P/T species at risk programs. SARCCs are specific to each P/T and comprise regional management representatives from the core departments and P/T wildlife representatives. Other government departments may participate when required to address specific issues.

Canadian Wildlife Directors Committee

The Canadian Wildlife Directors Committee (CWDC) is an advisory body comprising F/P/T wildlife directors, the five regional directors and the Director General of the Canadian Wildlife Service, and one representative each from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Parks Canada. The Committee provides leadership in the development and coordination of policies, strategies, programs and activities that address wildlife issues of national concern and contribute to the conservation of biodiversity. The CWDC also reports and advises and supports Deputies’ and Ministers’ councils on these matters.

Species at Risk Advisory Committee

The Species at Risk Advisory Committee (SARAC) comprises members of various stakeholder groups including industry, agriculture, ENGOs and other members with particular expertise in wildlife science and public policy development/implementation, concerned with the implementation of SARASARAC meets several times a year to review and provide advice on matters related to the administration of SARA. Each of the core departments provides expertise and information to support the work of this committee.

Recovery of Nationally Endangered Wildlife Working Group

The Recovery of Nationally Endangered Wildlife (RENEW) Working Group (formerly called the National Recovery Working Group) comprises representatives of the 16 F/P/T government agencies responsible for wildlife and is co-chaired by a federal core department representative and a provincial/territorial representative. The group was formed in 1988 under RENEW, the national recovery program, to advise the CWDC on recovery matters and to develop guidelines, procedures, and tools to support the effective planning and implementation of recovery activities. This group has been instrumental in harmonizing SARA requirements into the existing national recovery program.

National General Status Working Group

The National General Status Working Group (NGSWG) is composed of representatives from each of the provinces and territories and the three core departments. Members of the group are responsible for completing the general status assessments in their respective jurisdictions. The NGSWG was established by the Canadian Wildlife Director Committee in order to meet the commitment of monitoring, assessing and reporting on the status of wildlife, as required under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk. NGSWG members report to the Canadian Wildlife Director Committee, and ultimately to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council.

Task Group on Aquatic Species at Risk

The Task Group was established by the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers to develop a coordinated F/P/T approach to aquatic species at risk and to advise and provide support to the CESCC on species at risk issues involving aquatic species.

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2.9 Allocation of Funds

The total cost of the Species at Risk Program initiative is $100 million per year for the next five years (2007-2008 through 2011-2012) and $75 million per year ongoing beginning in 2012-2013. The distribution of the funds per department/agency per year is shown in the following two tables. Environment Canada’s portion includes funding for the related G&C programs (HSP, IRF, ESRF and the Aboriginal funds). In addition, Environment Canada has received a total of $23.7M for the next five years ((2007-2008 through 2011-2012) dedicated to wildlife enforcement.

Table 6: Allocation per Year from 2007-2008 to 2011-2012 ($ million)
 Environment CanadaFisheries and Oceans CanadaParks CanadaTotal
Total Funds$59.98$26$14.1$100
Funding Allocation from 2003$30.5$11$3.5$45
Funding Allocation from 2007$29.4$15$10.6$55

 

Table 7: Ongoing Allocation from 2012/13 ($ million)
 Environment CanadaFisheries and Oceans CanadaParks CanadaTotal
Total Funds$46.9$17.8$10.3$75
Funding Allocation from 2003$30.5$11$3.5$45
Funding Allocation from 2007$16.4$6.8$6.8$30

The distribution of the funds per program element/activity area per year is shown in the following two tables.

Table 8: Allocation per Program Element/Activity Area per Year from 2007/08 to 2011/12 ($ million)
Program Element/Activity AreaFunding Allocation from 2003Funding Allocation from 2007Total
Total$45.0$55.0$100.0
Species at Risk Protection Cycle
Assessment$3.5$4.4$7.9
Response/Listing/Protection$0.6$2.6$3.2
Recovery Planning$12.9$9.8$22.7
Implementation$21.9$15.1$37.0
Compliance Promotion/Enforcement9$2.2$3.0$5.2
Monitoring and Evaluation$0.1$1.7$1.8
Horizontal Support Mechanisms
Program Development and Management$1.5$14.7$16.2
Other Related Activities$2.3$3.7$6.0

 

Table 9: Ongoing Allocation per Program Element/Activity Area per Year from 2012-2013 ($ million)
Program Element/Activity AreaFunding Allocation from 2003Funding Allocation from 2007Total
Total$45.0$30.0$75.0
Species at Risk Protection Cycle
Assessment$3.5$2.1$5.6
Response/Listing/Protection$0.6$0.8$1.4
Recovery Planning$12.9$5.8$18.7
Implementation$21.9$7.1$29.0
Compliance Promotion/Enforcement$2.2$1.3$3.5
Monitoring and Evaluation$0.1$0.7$0.8
Horizontal Support Mechanisms
Program Development and Management$1.5$10.4$11.9
Other Related Activities$2.3$1.8$4.1

3 Under SARA, “competent minister” means (a) the Minister responsible for the Parks Canada with respect to individuals in or on federal lands administered by that Agency; (b) the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans with respect to aquatic species, other than individuals mentioned in paragraph (a); and (c) the Minister of the Environment with respect to all other individuals.
4 Under SARA, “Minister” means the Minister of the Environment.
5 Definitions for each classification can be found in the Species at Risk Act.
6 Note that the first seven action plans required under SARA were due in 2007-08.
7 Through a budget review, the Habitat Stewardship Program lost $1M in funding, bringing its total annual funding to $13M.
8 Due to a budget review of the Habitat Stewardship Program, EC funding was decreased by $1M, resulting in a total annual funding of $58.9M.
9 Compliance Promotion/Enforcement activities are part of the protection element of the SAR Conservation Cycle.