Service standards and performance for permitting decisions under the Species at Risk Act

Quality and predictability of service are legitimate expectations of Canadians when interacting with the Government of Canada. A public commitment to a measurable level of performance that clients can expect under normal circumstances (i.e., regular day-to-day operations) is referred to as a service standard.

Service standards are integral to good client service and are important for effective management of performance. They help to clarify expectations (both internally and externally), drive improvement to services being provided and contribute to results-based management. Under Section 73 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA), the competent minister may enter into an agreement or issue a permit authorizing a person to engage in an activity that could affect a wildlife species listed on Schedule 1 of SARA, as extirpated, endangered, or threatened. SARA permits are also required for activities that could affect the listed species critical habitat or its residences. For more information on SARA permits please visit the SARA Public Registry.

Service standards

The Permits Authorizing an Activity Affecting Listed Wildlife Species Regulations, which came into effect on June 19th 2013, impose a 90-day timeline on the government to either issue or refuse to issue a permit under section 73 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) to authorize activities that may affect listed wildlife species. The 90-day timeline may not apply in certain circumstances. These regulations support the implementation of the Government of Canada’s Responsible Resource Development Plan and it is anticipated that they will contribute to consistency, predictability and transparency in the SARA permitting process by providing applicants with clear and measurable service standards.

When incomplete applications are received, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) will notify the applicant and the time limit will be “paused” or “suspended” until all missing information is received. ECCC will ensure timely communication with applicants with regard to any missing information required for the assessment of their applications. The SARA Public Registry has more information on applying for a SARA permit.

Performance target for permits under the Species at Risk Act

100% of decisions regarding permit applications must be made within the 90-day service standard, unless the time limit is not applicable due to one of the prescribed exceptions.

Performance information

ECCC measures its service performance annually for SARA section 73 permits and performance information is posted on the web no later than June 1st for the preceding fiscal year. During the 2016-2017 fiscal year, ECCC issued 41 SARA permits; however, the service standard did not apply to one permit as per subsection 3(3) of the Permits Authorizing an Activity Affecting Listed Wildlife Species Regulations. Of the 40 permits for which service standards applied, 37 were issued within the 90-day standard set out in the regulation, resulting in a 93% performance against service standards. ECCC will continue to identify and address internal issues in order to improve processing times for SARA permits.

Performance reporting
Permit type2013-20142014-20152015-20162016-20172017-2018
SARA permitsNote a of Table 179% of permits issued within service standard97% of permits issued within service standard93% of permits issued within service standard93% of permits issued within service standardPerformance data to be provided by June 1st, 2018

Notes of table 1

Note a of table 1

Service Standard: Permit decisions made under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) are made within 90 calendar days after the date of the notice indicating that the application has been received.

Return to footnote a referrer of table 1

Service feedback

Any feedback on these service standards or on any issue related to permits issued under the Species at Risk Act should be directed to

Applying for a permit for terrestrial species under the Species at Risk Act

ECCC’s e-permitting system allows applicants to complete a SARA permit application online. Once applicants have created an account and have logged on, the e-permitting system will lead applicants through a step by step process where they will be prompted to fill in all necessary information. The information required to complete a SARA permit application may vary depending on the proposed activity. Required information includes, but is not limited to:

  • The name, civic and mailing addresses, email address, and contact information such as telephone or fax number of the applicant(s);
  • The qualifications of the applicant(s);
  • A list of species that could be affected by activity;
  • A detailed description of proposed activity and how it could affect species at risk, their residences or critical habitat;
  • A detailed description of the location where the proposed activity will take place;
  • A detailed description of methods (as applicable): field collection methods, survey types, project design and animal handling techniques;
  • Appropriate authorization or documentation for access to reserve or aboriginal lands (if applicable);
  • The results of any Environmental Assessments under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (if applicable); and
  • Any other information relevant to the activity being authorized.

Applicants must ensure that the proposed activities comply with the applicable provisions of the Species at Risk Act. Specifically, applicants must demonstrate, pursuant to subsection 73(2) of the Act, that the proposed activity either:

  • Constitutes scientific research relating to the conservation of the species conducted by qualified persons;
  • Benefits the species or is required to enhance its chance of survival in the wild; or
  • Affects the species only in an incidental manner.

Likewise, pursuant to subsection 73(3), applicants must also provide certain information on all the following points in order to be considered complete. Specifically, this information must demonstrate that:

  • All reasonable alternative to the activity that would reduce the impact on the species have been considered and the best solution has been adopted;
  • All feasible measures will be taken to minimize the impact of the activity on the species, its critical habitat or the residences of its individuals; and
  • The activity will not jeopardize the survival or recovery of the species.

Once the application has been submitted to the appropriate Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) regional office, ECCC will complete an administrative review to ensure that the application is complete and that it contains all required supporting documents. If complete, the application will then undergo a scientific review to ensure that the proposed activities comply with the Species at Risk Act. If there is any missing information, or if it becomes apparent that further information about the proposed activity is required, ECCC staff will communicate with the applicant in a timely manner in order to obtain the additional information.

Once approved, SARA permits will be posted on the SARA Public Registry. The public registry lists all SARA permits approved by ECCC and partner organizations (the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Parks Canada Agency) as well as detailed information about each permit including a description of the activities undertaken by the applicant, the species that could be affected, the rationale for issuing the permit and the terms and conditions that must be respected by the applicant.

ECCC is presently developing additional guidelines and best practices documents for SARA permitting activities. These documents will be posted on the SARA Public Registry shortly. If you have questions relating to a SARA permit application, please contact your CWS regional office. Comments and feedback regarding the e-permitting system should be directed to:

For more information

To learn about upcoming or ongoing consultations on proposed federal regulations, visit the Canada Gazette and Consulting with Canadians websites.