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Online catalogue: Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators: Socio-economic Information Related products PDF version Online catalogue Main page Executive summary Introduction Findings Conclusion Figures and maps Methods and data quality List of acronyms References More information


CESI reports are to be produced annually to track changes in air quality, greenhouse gas emissions and water quality in Canada. The long-term goal is to enable better decision-making that fully accounts for environmental sustainability. To assist with this, future reports will be supported with an online information system that will allow users to examine regional and sectoral details and conduct their own analyses.

The 2006 indicator results provide evidence of increased pressures on Canada’s environmental sustainability, the health and well-being of Canadians and potential consequences for our long-term economic performance. The trends for air quality and greenhouse gas emissions are pointing to greater threats to human health and the planet’s climate, while the water quality results show that guidelines are being exceeded, at least occasionally, at many of the selected monitoring sites across the country.

The greenhouse gas emissions indicator is currently the best developed of the three. It clearly shows a rise in Canada’s emissions between 1990 and 2004 and helps to pinpoint the major sources of the increase—oil, gas and coal production and consumption. Further development and improvements are under way for this indicator, as noted in the “What’s next?” section of the chapter.

The air quality indicators are based on an established national monitoring network. However, the task of linking policy measures to air quality and then to human health effects is formidable: ozone levels and fine particulate matter are influenced by complex factors, including weather and the atmospheric transport of pollutants. The approach taken in this report—analysing the observed concentrations in relation to where people live—is just a start. In the future, the indicators will be further developed through systematic measurements of other air pollutants and analyses of their cumulative effects, which will then be integrated into a comprehensive air health indicator.

The assembly of information for the freshwater quality indicator from across the country, including the Great Lakes and the North, demonstrates that jurisdictions can cooperate to sketch a national picture of water quality. Revisions and improvements to this indicator for future reports will require a better understanding of how well particular monitoring sites represent the quality of the water bodies or watersheds in which they are located and how accurately the monitoring network reflects the water quality of all Canadian rivers and lakes. The development of a more accurate national indicator will also rely on choosing variables and developing water quality guidelines that better match the ecological diversity of Canada’s water bodies.

New surveys, enhanced monitoring capabilities, new scientific knowledge and guidelines and improved data management and analytical methods will benefit future reports. This report has set the three indicators in a socio-economic context. However, more work is needed to complete the transition from reporting these indicator results separately to reporting them as a set that is integrated with other information on the environment, measures of economic performance and indices of social progress.

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Date modified: 2006-11-23 Important Notices
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