Most Atlantic provinces at bottom of the pack on environment report card

OTTAWA, April 21, 2016 /CNW/ - Most of the Atlantic provinces place near the bottom of the pack on The Conference Board of Canada's How Canada Performs: Environment report card released on the eve of Earth Day, which compares the environmental performance of Canada, the provinces and 15 peer countries. With the exception of Prince Edward Island (P.E.I), all Atlantic provinces get "D-" grades on overall environmental performance. 

"While the Atlantic provinces do rank high on some indicators, for the most part their overall environmental performance is poor," said Louis Thériault, Vice-President, Public Policy. "The Atlantic provinces and Canada, more generally, need to encourage more sustainable consumption. Protecting the environment from  damage is not a problem for tomorrow but a challenge for today."


  • P.E.I. earns a "C" grade and ranks 17th among all comparator jurisdictions.
  • New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador earn "D-" grades and rank 22nd, 23rd and 24th, respectively, out of 26 jurisdictions. Only Alberta and Saskatchewan score lower, ranking 25th and 26th respectively.
  • Overall, Canada receives a "D" grade and ranks 14th among the 16 peer countries.

Nine indicators were used to evaluate the environmental performance of Canada, the provinces and 15 peer countries. We evaluate the provinces on an additional indicator for which comparable international data are not available, waste generation. The indicators cover performance in four categories: air pollution, freshwater management, climate change, and waste.

Prince Edward Island places 17th overall, ranking just below B.C. on the environment report card. The province's per capita performance on the air pollution indicators is mixed, with the province receiving a "B" grade on nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions and an "A" grade in sulphur oxides (SOx) emissions, while obtaining a "D" on volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions and a "D-" on particulate matter (PM10) emissions. The province's top mark is an "A+" grade on low-emitting electricity production as nearly all of the electricity generated within the province comes from renewable sources, such as wind and solar. However, it should be noted that the province imports a large portion of its electricity from New Brunswick. P.E.I. is also among the top-ranked provinces when it comes to wastewater treatment with 92 per cent of the population receiving at least primary treatment for their waste water.

New Brunswick ranks 22nd overall among the 26 comparator jurisdictions. Similar to P.E.I., the province's per capita performance on the air pollution indicators is mixed, receiving a "C" grade on NOx emissions and a "B" grade on SOx emissions, while obtaining a "D" grade on VOC emissions and a "D-" on PM10 emissions. New Brunswick performs reasonably well on water withdrawals, where it gets a "B" grade with per capita water withdrawals of 351 m3. The province performs poorly on climate change indicators, earning a "D" for high per capita GHG emissions and a "D-" for energy intensity. New Brunswick is not a standout performer on any indicator and does not earn any grades higher than a "B".

Nova Scotia places just behind New Brunswick, ranking 23rd overall. When it comes to  air pollution indicators, the province earns "D-" grades for high NOx and PM10 emission rates, and "D" grades on SOx and VOC emission rates. This is likely the result of Nova Scotia's reliance on coal as an energy source. The province also does poorly on the climate change indicators, with "D" grades on low-emitting electricity production, per capita GHG emissions, and energy intensity. On the bright side, Nova Scotia has a low waste production rate and low per capita water withdrawals, and therefore earns "A" grades on waste generation and water withdrawals. In fact, with less than 400 kg of waste per capita, Nova Scotia outperforms all other provinces on the waste generation indicator.

Newfoundland and Labrador ranks 24th out of the 26 comparator jurisdictions. The province records low scores on three of the four air pollution indicators, receiving "D-" grades on NOx, VOC, and PM10 emissions. Newfoundland and Labrador emits 22 kg of PM10 per capita—over three times the rate in Ontario. The province also performs poorly on freshwater management indicators. While over 90 per cent of the population is connected to a sewer system, only half of the wastewater collected receives more than preliminary treatment, earning the province a "D-" and last place on the wastewater treatment indicator. Its per capita water withdrawals are also high, putting Newfoundland and Labrador at the bottom of the provincial ranking and in 25th place overall with a "D" grade. On a positive note, the province produces the large majority of its electricity from hydro sources, and so receives an "A" grade on low-emitting electricity production, ranking 5th among the 26 regions. Newfoundland and Labrador has the lowest energy intensity among the provinces, and gets a "C," ranking 15th overall on this indicator.

GHG emissions, for the purpose of this research and by international convention, do not include emissions resulting from the consumption of fossil fuels produced in one jurisdiction but used in other jurisdictions.

How Canada Performs is an ongoing research program at The Conference Board of Canada to help leaders identify relative strengths and weaknesses in Canada's socio-economic performance. Six performance domains are assessed: Economy, Education and Skills, Innovation, Environment, Health, and Society.

Released today, and building on previous How Canada Performs analyses, the Environment report card is the fifth of six to be produced on Canadian and provincial socio-economic performance. To date, the Economy, Education and Skills, Health, and Innovation report cards have been published.


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SOURCE Conference Board of Canada

Video with caption: "Video: Spotlight on Canada's GHG emissions". Video available at:

Image with caption: "Environment report card for Canada and the provinces (CNW Group/Conference Board of Canada)". Image available at:

For further information: Yvonne Squires, Media Relations, The Conference Board of Canada, Tel.: 613- 526-3090 ext. 221, E-mail:; Juline Ranger, Director of Communications, The Conference Board of Canada, Tel.: 613- 526-3090 ext. 431, E-mail:


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