Information gathering

Information gathering involves collecting information on a substance or group of substances from a variety of published and unpublished sources, stakeholders and various databases. The collection and analysis of this information is essential for making science and regulatory-based decisions regarding the risk assessment and risk management of substances under the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) in Canada.

View ongoing information gathering initiatives.

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Sources of information

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and Health Canada (HC) collect scientific data (for example, toxicological studies) and commercial activity information (for example, substance use and quantities) from a variety of sources and mechanisms, which may include:

  • Publicly available information: An extensive literature search is conducted to collect critical studies published in peer reviewed scientific journals on properties, hazard and exposure to substances, as well as obtaining information through sources such as databases, trade journals, and safety data sheets.
  • CMP information gathering approaches: 
    • Mandatory provisions under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999): Through information gathering provisions under CEPA 1999, the Government of Canada regularly obtains updated information on the commercial status of substances and other information required for risk assessment or risk management. Several sections of CEPA 1999, such as sections 46 and 71, allow the Government to collect information from any person regarding their activities with substances that informs decision-making. Section 71 may be used to require the generation of data, such as toxicological tests. Section 70 is another information gathering provision that puts the onus on any person who imports, manufactures, transports, processes, distributes a substance for commercial purposes, or who uses a substance in a commercial manufacturing or processing activity in Canada to provide information in their possession that reasonably supports the conclusion that a substance is toxic or capable of becoming toxic.
    • New substances provisions under CEPA 1999: For substances that are new to Canada, industry is required to provide specific information to the New Substances Program as required by the New Substances Notification Regulations under CEPA 1999.
    • Voluntary approaches: Information can be gathered through direct data requests or voluntary questionnaires to those known or thought to be engaged with substances.
    • Stakeholder engagement information gathering approaches: Information may be gathered by working in collaboration with stakeholders during various stages of risk assessment and risk management activities. Stakeholders may also proactively provide data.
  • ECCC and HC research, monitoring & surveillance activities: The Government invests in research, monitoring and surveillance, including biomonitoring, to provide essential information about chemical exposures and their effects on human health and the environment. This information can inform priority setting, as well as risk assessment and risk management activities.
  • Information available from other federal programs: Information on substances is also available through other programs within the federal government. Some programs have their own respective databases that provide pertinent information on substances, which can inform CMP activitiesFor example, the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) prepared by Statistics Canada is a source for information relevant to the health of Canadians. Other federal departments such as Natural Resources Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency and Statistics Canada may have data for use in risk assessments.
  • Other regulatory jurisdictions: Information is also available in other jurisdictions, including other provincial/territorial government departments, which could be shared through agreements. For example, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), and the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS), can often provide information that informs decision making.

How the information is used for risk assessment

The Government carefully reviews information collected for its quality and relevance to the Canadian context in order to determine critical information for risk assessment. To determine the quality of a study, certain aspects such as the methodology, reproducibility, as well as experimental/modelling conditions are reviewed to determine how the data should be considered. For the information related to exposure assessment, Canadian data and studies are typically given more weight than international data or studies.

How the information is used for risk management

Information gathering to support risk management can also look beyond substances and groups of substances. For example, it can collect information on sectors, processes, products or activities involving substances; technologies and techniques for pollution prevention or control; and socio-economics.  Available information is taken into consideration when:

  • identifying risk management options and selecting risk management actions to address sources of risk
  • developing and designing risk management instruments or amendments to existing instruments
  • consulting with stakeholders and implementing compliance promotion and outreach
  • conducting performance measurement
  • identifying whether there are new sources of exposure that may require risk management

Confidentiality of information

In some instances, information submitted under CEPA 1999 may be identified as confidential business information (CBI). CBI is considered in decision-making but is protected in public documents in order to maintain confidentiality. To allow the highest possible level of transparency to stakeholders and the public, CBI should only be claimed for information that is truly confidential. The Government has developed the Approach to disclose confidential information and promote transparency in Chemicals Management  (the approach) to achieve an appropriate balance between transparency and the protection of CBI.

Work plan: information gathering under the Chemicals Management Plan

The Information Gathering Plan is intended to provide stakeholders with an overview of potential upcoming mandatory information gathering activities. The plan includes the time periods for anticipated mandatory information gathering initiatives (section 46 or 71 notices). Information gathering initiatives are timed to inform priority-setting, risk assessment and risk management activities; therefore, the plan should not be considered an exhaustive list of information gathering initiatives as other initiatives might be required, and time periods may shift. The plan will be updated as needed.

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