Consultation on the update to the national implementation plan on persistant organic pollutants: chapter 2


Chapter 2 - Update on Canada's Key Legislation and Policies Related to Stockholm Convention Obligations

Prior to entry into force of the amendments to the Stockholm Convention for Canada (amendments adding the nine new POPs), Canada had already taken significant steps to reduce domestic sources of all nine new POPs through federal actions under the Chemicals Management Plan, and using authorities under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the Pest Control Products Act, the Food and Drugs Act and related regulations.

Canada's initiatives outlined in this update include legislation, regulations, voluntary programs and standards, policies, programs and other related measures, including actions by Canadians to manage and eliminate these new POPs in the environment. Continued domestic actions are important to further reduce levels of POPs in Canada and to address emerging chemical issues. At the same time, effective implementation by all Parties to the Stockholm Convention is of vital interest to Canada because it will reduce Canada's exposure to foreign sources of POPs that are adversely impacting the human health and environment of Canadians, especially Aboriginal northerners and their children.

Chemicals Management Plan

Since the publication of Canada's original 2006 National Implementation Plan, Canada launched its Chemicals Management Plan (CMP)[6][7], which sets out to improve the degree of protection against harmful chemicals, including a number of proactive measures to ensure that chemical substances are managed appropriately. The Chemicals Management Plan is the Government of Canada's principal policy tool for the assessment and management of chemical substances of concern. In its first phase, the Chemicals Management Plan assessed high priority substances and initiated risk management actions to address key sources of exposure for substances found harmful to health or the environment.

In 2011, the Government of Canada announced the renewal of its Chemicals Management Plan. The second phase of the Chemicals Management Plan continues a focus on:

  • Risk Assessment, Research, Monitoring and Surveillance - continuing the assessment, monitoring and surveillance of substances of concern (including POPs) to protect Canadians, including vulnerable populations, and their environment.
  • Risk Management - taking risk management actions to address key sources of exposure for substances (including POPs) found harmful to health or the environment and managing risks using the most appropriate legislation: for example, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999), the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA) and the Food and Drugs Act (F&DA).
  • International Collaboration - including the participation as a Party in international treaties such as the Stockholm Convention.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999

The Government of Canada has many laws and programs dedicated to protecting human health and the natural environment from chemical risks[8]. Its primary legal tool for assessing and managing chemical substances in the environment is the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999). Jointly administered by Environment Canada and Health Canada, CEPA 1999 is an important part of Canada's Chemicals Management Plan. The goal of CEPA 1999 is to contribute to sustainable development - development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs[9].

CEPA 1999 provides means to manage chemical substances, such as POPs, in the following ways:

  • makes pollution prevention the cornerstone of national efforts to reduce toxic substances in the environment;
  • sets out processes to assess the risks to the environment and human health posed by substances in commerce;
  • imposes timeframes for managing toxic substances;
  • provides a wide range of tools to manage toxic substances, other pollution and wastes, including regulations respecting a wide range of requirements (e.g., prohibitions);
  • ensures the most harmful substances are phased out or not released into the environment in any measurable quantity;
  • includes provisions to regulate vehicle, engine and equipment emissions;
  • contains strong measures for the enforcement of the Act and its regulations;
  • provides opportunities for citizen input into decision-making; and
  • allows for more effective cooperation and partnership with other governments and Aboriginal peoples.

Since Canada's original NIP was submitted in 2006, Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999, the List of Toxic Substances and Schedule 3, the Export Control List, have been updated to include the new POPS (where applicable) and consequently new domestic controls for these new POPs have been introduced under CEPA 1999 (such as the Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether Regulations and the Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations). For more information on CEPA 1999, please see the CEPA Registry website[10].

Pest Controls Products Act

The Pest Control Products Act (PCPA) is administered by Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) with the primary objective of preventing unacceptable risks to people and the environment from the use of pest control products. The PCPA and its regulations provide a comprehensive framework legislating pesticides imported into, sold, or used in Canada.

The PCPA provides for strong protection of human health and the environment. It includes additional protection for children and pregnant women and takes into account pesticide exposure from all sources, including food and water. The Act also supports pesticide risk reduction, for example, by ensuring that only pesticides that make a useful contribution to pest management are registered and by expediting the registration of lower-risk products. These activities are essential in protecting human health and the environment. The Actalso requires that all pest control products be re-evaluated on a 15-year cycle; increases the powers of inspection and fines to ensure compliance; and requires incident and sales reporting.

Food and Drugs Act

The Food and Drugs Act (F&DA) ("an Act respecting food, drugs, cosmetics and therapeutic devices") and its accompanying regulations are also administered by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Together they provide a legislative framework for Canada covering the production, use, import, export, and transport across provinces and sale of food, drugs, therapeutic devices, cosmetics and natural health products. While no changes have been made to the F&DA since the submission of Canada's original NIP in 2006, changes introduced in 2012 (under Bill C-38) will allow new tools, called Marketing Authorizations and Incorporation by Reference, which will streamline regulatory processes while maintaining the same rigorous pre-market safety assessments to support Health Canada decisions.  

Key Provincial/Territorial Legislation and Policies

All provinces and territories have legislation and regulations to manage air quality, toxic substances and/or pesticides. Most provinces and territories have statutes dealing with environmental protection, with regulations and/or permitting or approvals systems for stationary point sources that discharge pollutants to the atmosphere.

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