9. Moving Forward

Continued sustained action on mercury is needed to protect the health of Canadians and their environment from the risks of mercury by minimizing, and where feasible, eliminating mercury emissions and releases from human activities. Based on the results in this report, the Government of Canada will continue its efforts in four main areas: monitoring, managing risks associated with mercury, communicating with the public and engaging internationally.

Data from biomonitoring and environmental monitoring initiatives provide important information for evaluating risk management performance for mercury. Therefore, the Government of Canada will continue human biomonitoring, both nationally and for vulnerable populations, and should seek complimentary dietary surveys. In particular, mercury will be monitored in the general population through the Canadian Health Measures Survey and, in the North, through the Northern Contaminants Program. The Government of Canada will also continue to participate in relevant international fora such as the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme.

The Government of Canada will also continue monitoring mercury levels in the environment. This will allow for an assessment of the risk to animals and humans from mercury, will help to determine where mercury is a problem in Canada and whether levels are decreasing or increasing over time, and help to evaluate the contribution of emissions of mercury from other countries to total mercury emissions in Canada. Additionally, environmental monitoring will help improve mapping and modelling of how mercury moves through the environment in Canada.

Domestic efforts to manage the risks associated with mercury waste are ongoing. These include making amendments to the Products Containing Mercury Regulations, and putting in place a National Strategy for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Disposal of Lamps Containing Mercury. The Government of Canada will also continue to measure the performance of these and other key risk management actions in protecting Canadians and their environment.

The Government of Canada plays a role in informing Canadians about health and environmental risks from mercury. This allows Canadians to make educated choices related to mercury. Health Canada will continue to gather data on Canadians’ exposure to mercury, including through gathering information on levels in fish and will periodically re-evaluate the potential risk for the health of Canadians and subsequently adjust its risk management approach if required. The risks of mercury from fish will be communicated by providing consumption advice for retail fish and through ongoing work under the Northern Contaminants Program. This includes communicating the risks of mercury to pregnant women in the North and evaluating the effectiveness of this messaging.

Finally, the Government of Canada will continue to support international action on mercury, through continued engagement and leadership on the Minamata Convention. This includes actively participating in negotiations and contributing to the work of the Convention during the period between meetings. It also includes providing the international community with relevant Canadian environmental monitoring data and human biomonitoring results that will assist in the evaluation of the effectiveness of the Minamata Convention.

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