Authority to regulate emissions from internal combustion engines in Canada currently rests with Environment Canada and Transport Canada. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999 (CEPA 1999) gave legislative authority to Environment Canada to regulate emissions from engines other than those used in aircraft, railway locomotives and commercial marine vessels. Authority to regulate emissions from aircraft, railway locomotives and commercial marine vessels rests with Transport Canada.

Increasingly, the general approach to setting vehicle emissions standards in Canada is to harmonize them with US EPA federal standards as much as possible. In 1988, on-road vehicle emission standards were first aligned with the US federal standards. In February 2001, the Minister of the Environment in the Federal Agenda on Cleaner Vehicles, Engines and Fuels set out a number of policy measures that would continue the harmonization of on-road emissions standards as well as to expand this harmonization by developing emission standards for off-road engines and standards for fuels that are aligned with those of the federal US EPA requirements.

On-Road Engines and Vehicles

Canadian federal regulations establishing exhaust emission limits for on-road vehicles were first promulgated in 1971 under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act which is administered by Transport Canada. On March 13, 2000, legislative authority for controlling on-road vehicle emissions was transferred to Environment Canada under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999 (CEPA 1999). Under CEPA 1999, the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations where promulgated on January 1, 2003, and came into effect on January 1, 2004. These regulations replaced the previous regulations adopted under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. The new regulations adopted under CEPA 1999 continued the past approach of aligning with the federal emission standards of the US EPA.

MOU. In the interim period between the phase-out of the emission regulations under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the effective date of the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations, Environment Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association, the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada, and the member companies of those associations in June 2001. The MOU formalized an industry commitment to market the same low emission light-duty vehicles and light-duty trucks in Canada as in the US for model years 2001-2003.

On-Road Emission Regulations. The Regulations align vehicle and engine certification requirements with those of the US federal EPA requirements beginning January 1, 2004 and including the US Tier 2 program for new light-duty vehicles, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles, and Phase 1 and Phase 2 programs for new heavy-duty vehicles and engines.

The Regulations set out technical standards for vehicles and engines for exhaust, evaporative and crankcase emissions, on-board diagnostic systems and other specifications related to emission control systems. The intention of the Regulations is to ensure that vehicles and engines meeting more stringent exhaust emission standards will begin entering the Canadian market in the 2004 model year and will be phased-in over the 2004 to 2010 model year period. The phase-in schedules vary by standard and by vehicle class and can be summarized as follows: Tier 2 standards for light-duty vehicles and light light-duty trucks (2004-2007); Tier 2 standards for heavy light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles (2004-2009); Phase 1 (2005) and Phase 2 (2008-2009) standards for complete heavy-duty vehicles; and Phase 1 (2004-2006) and Phase 2 (2007-2010) standards for heavy-duty engines.

During any phase-in period, every model of vehicle or engine that is certified by the US EPA, and that is sold concurrently in Canada and the United States, is required to meet the same emission standards in Canada as in the United States. Canadian vehicles will therefore have progressively improved emission performance without specifying interim phase-in percentages in the Regulations. The final phased-in standards apply to all vehicles and engines sold in Canada, in the model year that they apply, to 100% of a class of vehicles or engines in the United States.

Vehicle Weight Classes. The regulations define the weight classes for vehicles and engines as outlined below:

Table 1
Vehicle Categories
ClassGVWR, kg (lb)
Motorcycle≤793 (1,749)
Light-Duty Vehicle≤3,856 (8,500)
Light-Duty Truck≤3,856 (8,500)
- light light-duty truck≤2,722 (6,000)
- heavy light-duty truck>2,722 to 3,856 (6,000 to 8,500)
Medium-Duty Passenger Vehicle3,856 to <4,536 (8,500 to 10,000)
Complete Heavy-Duty Vehicle (Otto cycle only)3,856 to 6,350 (8,500 to 14,000)
Heavy-Duty Vehicle/Heavy-Duty Engine>3,856 (8,500)
- light heavy-duty engine<8,847 (19,500)
- medium heavy-duty engine8,847 to 14,971 (19,500 to 33,000)
- heavy heavy-duty engine>14,971 (33,000)

Off-Road Engines and Vehicles

Emission regulations have been adopted for the following categories of off-road engines:

The authority for regulating railway locomotive emissions lies with Transport Canada under the Railway Safety Act. Environment Canada monitored locomotive emissions through information provided under a MOU signed by Environment Canada, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment and the Railway Association of Canada in 1995. The MOU set a cap on annual NOx emissions from railway locomotives operating in Canada of 115,000 tonnes per annum. Since this agreement expired in 2005, locomotive emissions remain unregulated.