Government of Canada is working to improve Canada’s law on pollution prevention and toxic chemicals, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
June 29, 2018 – Gatineau, Quebec
All Canadians deserve a healthy environment and safe communities. That’s why the Government of Canada is working to protect Canadians and their environment from pollution and harmful substances.
Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, announced that the Government of Canada is taking action to strengthen Canada’s approach to managing harmful substances, and it is committing to reform the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. Today’s announcement comes in response to the detailed report on the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 prepared by the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.
The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 is an essential tool to prevent pollution and manage substances that could put the health of Canadians and our environment at risk. For example, the Government has used the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 to introduce regulations banning asbestos, a toxic substance that has been proven to cause cancer, and plastic microbeads, which were contaminating Canada’s waterways and harming wildlife.
The Government of Canada is taking action to implement many of the Committee’s recommendations:
- We are working to enhance how we protect vulnerable populations, including by developing a policy framework for considering vulnerable populations—such as children, pregnant women, and the elderly—in the assessment and management of chemicals.
- We are taking action to protect Canadians from chemicals of high concern, such as endocrine disruptors, which can affect how hormones work and lead to long-term health issues.
- We are updating standards and developing new instruments to improve air quality and reduce air pollution from industrial sources, including oil refineries.
To address recommendations that require legislative reform, we will conduct a thorough review and consult widely with Canadians—including civil society, industry, Indigenous Peoples, and experts—as we work toward updating Canada’s Chemicals Management Plan and overhauling the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 through amendments as soon as possible in a future Parliament.
We understand that many Canadians would like to see the right to a healthy environment enshrined in federal law and policy. As we work to reform the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the Government of Canada commits to continue consultations further on this issue, guided by the analysis and recommendations in the Standing Committee’s report.
The Government will also work collaboratively with First Nations to explore options to address the environmental protection regulatory gap on First Nations reserve lands. We commit to returning to the Standing Committee after appropriate engagement with a plan on how we will move forward on this important issue.
“Strong environmental laws are essential to protecting nature and keeping Canadians safe. Our government has made important progress in banning toxic substances—such as asbestos and microbeads—under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, and it is committed to doing more. We are already working to address the recommendations of the Standing Committee, and we look forward to working collaboratively with industry, civil society, Indigenous Peoples and others, to overhaul Canada’s laws and keep our environment free from toxic chemicals and pollution.”
– Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 is the principal federal law for preventing pollution.
In June 2017, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development tabled its report on the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. This report contains 87 recommendations to improve the Act and its implementation.
The Chemicals Management Plan is a Government of Canada initiative that aims to reduce the harm that chemicals can pose to Canadians and the environment. As of May 1, 2018, the Chemicals Management Plan has addressed 3160 of the 4300 substances identified during the categorization process. The current phase of the Chemicals Management Plan, launched in May 2016, will address the remaining approximately 1100 substances by March 31, 2021. With the conclusion of the current Chemicals Management Plan nearing, the Government is taking action to set new directions and objectives for chemicals management post 2020.
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)
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