Reducing the harmful effects of environmental noise: evaluating the implementation of measure 2.7 of the federal government’s health care policy

The population is exposed to noise generated by various human activities in the environment on a daily basis, which can affect their health and quality of life. Measure 2.7 of the State Health Prevention Policy (PGPS) aims for the departments and agencies concerned to adopt common orientations and develop a more integrated and effective approach and management to reduce environmental noise.

This report presents the results of an evaluation of the implementation of the six projects selected by the Interministerial Group of Experts on Environmental Noise (GEIBE) to update measure 2.7 of the PGPS. These projects, which address common concerns of the GEIBE member departments and agencies, are mainly of two types:

  • Research projects enabling data to be obtained and useful information to be used for the development or revision of guideline values, exposure limit values, indicators and assessment methods to be applied to various sources of environmental noise, such as road noise or noise attributable to rail traffic;
  • the production of guides to support the application of best practices related to environmental noise management (e.g. sound insulation of buildings against external noise and management of noisy outdoor leisure activities such as amplified music and noise, fireworks, car races and shooting ranges).

Interviews were conducted with members of the GEIBE, some of its managers and some of the main members of the university teams involved in order to clearly understand the essential terms and conditions for the implementation of these projects as well as the difficulties experienced. Finally, the evaluation also takes into account the perspective of the target recipients with regard to the usability of two results achieved in order to get an idea of ​​the potential for achieving the project goals.

The evaluation shows that GEIBE was able to implement structured, rigorous and effective methodologies to select, define, plan and monitor their projects to the completion of the expected results. In this regard, the decision to formally appoint two individuals to ensure compliance with expectations, project follow-up and liaison with research teams proved to be a recipe for success.

Respondents made several suggestions to make the implementation process more efficient, to avoid certain difficulties or even to adapt to the constraints they have to deal with. These include, among others:

  • Better adjustment of planning to the work contexts of GEIBE members and their university partners;
  • to further specify the content expected in each of the projects, as well as the intended use, intended users and expected formats for the deliverables;
  • simplification of the administrative procedures and requirements related to the development and monitoring of university team contracts, which in some cases have proved very complicated and unsatisfactory;
  • Promotion of a more direct exchange between GEIBE and the research teams in the key phases of the projects, such as B. their start and the submission of important results.

As for the appreciation of the two products obtained, these prove to be satisfactory for the intended addressees and offer a good potential for use:

  • The members of the GEIBE consider the research reports, which deal in particular with the reference values ​​and the limit values ​​of the exposure of the population to environmental noise, to be useful. They made it possible to obtain new references used in their respective work. However, further discussions between them are needed before they can identify common orientations and develop a more integrated and effective approach and management of environmental noise reduction.
  • The guide for municipalities on managing noisy leisure activities is rated as satisfactory or even very satisfactory by a dozen of the municipal stakeholders surveyed. Most of them also intend to implement some of the proposed recommendations to protect the public, whether they live nearby, attend, or participate in these activities. Although the preferred recommendations will vary depending on the context of use, those that are cost effective and those that are aimed directly at reducing noise exposure (e.g. stage and sound reinforcement placement) are considered to be easier to apply.

Suggestions were collected to enrich the guide’s content, facilitate the application of the recommendations and disseminate information. These underscore the need for GEIBE to plan not only ways to popularize these tools, but more importantly ways to actively support their use by equipping the professionals who oversee, plan or organize these events. In doing so, GEIBE should rely on established networks that already work with municipal actors, such as the Association québécoise du loisirs Municipal, the Organization Events and Attractions Quebec or the Order of Urban Planners.

This initial experience of GEIBE in awarding contracts to university research teams has proved satisfactory for its members and is considered sufficient to carry out the necessary work. Members are very satisfied with the results achieved and believe that the projects have had a direct positive impact on their work, in addition to developing worthwhile collaborations, particularly with university teams. According to them, this work helps to share their vision and move towards the adoption of common orientations that, over time, will help develop more coherence in the guide values, exposure limit values ​​and methods they use to manage noise and to protect the population.

The recommendations highlight the main issues that GEIBE needs to consider as it prepares to plan a new cohort of projects to update Measure 2.7 of the PGPS. They relate to improving the methods and procedures for implementing the projects, highlighting the results already achieved, as well as maintaining the conditions necessary for the implementation of effective and satisfactory concerted projects, particularly in terms of governance and partnership.

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