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Inspections, prosecutions for polluting in Canada down sharply since 2015

Last Updated May 31, 2020 at 12:34 pm PDT

Canadian Geese swim in the cold waters of Lake Ontario overlooking the city of Toronto skyline in Mississauga, Ont., on Thursday, January 24, 2019. Environment Canada research scientists say the COVID-19-induced economic slowdown is leading to cleaner air in many Canadian cities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

OTTAWA — Environment Canada is doing fewer inspections, investigations and prosecutions to enforce its law protecting people from toxic chemicals and air pollution.

In response to a written question posed in the House of Commons, the department says it investigated 43 companies under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act five years ago, compared with 12 in each of the last two years.

There were also 22 companies prosecuted and convicted in 2015, compared with one in each of the last two years.

NDP MP Laurel Collins says she asked the question because she wanted an update two years after the federal environment commissioner said Ottawa was not properly enforcing the law.

Collins says she is surprised and disheartened to see there are fewer investigations being launched and hardly any prosecutions happening at all.

The department’s initial response to explain the figures says only that some investigations are complex and take many years to complete.