Summary report May 8, 2014 - Chemicals Management Plan Stakeholder Advisory Council

Chemicals Management Plan Stakeholder Advisory Council Meeting

  • Co-Chairs:
    • David Morin (Director General, Science and Risk Assessment, Environment Canada [EC])
    • Amanda Jane (AJ) Preece (Director General, Safe Environments Directorate, Health Canada [HC])
  • Council members present:
    • Dr. Joseph Byers
    • Shannon Coombs
    • Bruce Cran
    • William David for Andrew Black
    • Fe de Leon
    • Gary Leroux
    • Shelagh Kerr
    • Amardeep Khosla
    • Gordon Lloyd
    • Eric Loring
    • Sandra Madray
    • Maggie MacDonald
    • Keith Mussar
    • Mary Richardson
    • John Skowronski
    • Dr. Don Spady
    • Dr. Lee Wilson
  • Government officials present:
    • José Audet-Lecouffe (Program Liaison Section, EC)
    • Michelle Bowerman (Manager, Program Liaison, EC)
    • Greg Carreau (Executive Director, Program Development and Engagement Division, EC)
    • Robert Chénier (Director, Ecological Assessment Division, EC)
    • Gordon Cockell (Existing Substances Risk Assessment Bureau, HC)
    • Vincenza Galatone (Executive Director, Chemicals Management Division, EC)
    • Michael Hodgins (Program Development and Engagement Division, HC)
    • Elpiniki Karalis (Manager, Information Management Division, HC)
    • Daren Kelland (Manager, Information Management and Data Collection, EC)
    • Virginia Poter (Director General, Chemicals Sector, EC)
    • Daniel Wolfish (Director, Risk Management Bureau, HC)
  • Regrets:
    • Susan Abel
    • Jason McLinton
  • Observers:
    • Dr. Meg Sears (environmental health researcher and writer)
    • Liz Smith (New Brunswick Lung Association)
    • Dr. Olga Speranskaya (International POPs Elimination Network)

Opening remarks

Participants were welcomed and observers and alternates were introduced.

Agenda item 1A - Update on the CMP Science Committee

An update on the Chemical Management Plan (CMP) Science Committee was provided, including a short summary of the orientation session held in November, 2013 and the first face-to-face meeting held in Ottawa, February 2014. Agenda items of note at the February 2014 meeting included a review of the draft Terms of Reference by Committee members and a discussion of a charge question related to communication of uncertainty in the context of screening assessments conducted under the CMP. A Meeting Record and Committee Report will be posted to the Chemical Substances Web site in June, 2014. The next meeting of the CMP Science Committee is scheduled for November 4 to 5 in Ottawa. Government officials have not yet confirmed the topic of that meeting.

Agenda item 1B - Update on the CMP Progress Report

Government officials reminded members of the objective of the CMP Progress Report and thanked them for their suggestions and guidance leading up to the publication of the first issue in December 2013. Members were asked to relay any feedback they had received on the first issue from their membership to ensure that the report is useful to as broad an audience as possible. Government indicated that the second issue is expected to be published in June and asked members if and how they foresaw using the Progress Report and if they had any suggestions for improvement.

There were questions about how the government distributed the Report and how many times it had been accessed online. Government officials outlined how the report was distributed and indicated that they would try to get statistics for the number of visits to the Chemical Substances Web site.  Members expressed that they found the Report was very useful in terms of explaining the CMP to a technically knowledgeable audience but it was suggested that it had limited value to those not as familiar with government regulations or policy of this nature, such as health care practitioners, certain non-governmental organizations and aboriginal groups. There was agreement that the links to the Chemical Substances Web site were very useful to include in the Progress Report and that, as an extra step, providing additional context would allow for a better understanding from the public of the value of the information in each article.  It was also suggested to add references to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) Annual Report and CEPA Registry.

Agenda item 1C - Increasing Transparency on Feeders in Place for Identifying Candidates for Risk Assessment (under CEPA)

Government officials provided an update on work that has been undertaken on the feeders in place for the identification of candidates for risk assessment under CEPA 1999. A brief summary was provided of the input received at the June 2012 Stakeholder Advisory Council meeting, where early thinking on this initiative was presented. Recent efforts to elaborate on the approach to the seven feeders were summarized, including work internally on a pilot project to develop information management tools that better integrate information on chemicals, and the selection of principles and considerations to aid in the evaluation of acquired information. It was indicated that next steps include posting of the approach on the Chemical Substances Web site in 2014. This document will elaborate on the acquisition and evaluation of new information.

The process to gather information for this initiative was discussed and sources of information were highlighted such as, government research labs, and database and libraries. Members were reminded that research and monitoring is one of the pillars of CMP and that funding is applied in this area to address the needs of the program.

There was a discussion about a recent environmental petition submitted by the Canadian Environmental Law Association pertaining to Section 75 (review of decisions by other jurisdictions) under CEPA 1999. It was suggested that the response to this petition could be a topic or at least an update at a future meeting. There were also questions about the certainty of CMP funding. It was highlighted that funding continues for two years and will likely continue beyond that at some level. It was also mentioned that stakeholder's support has a role to play in substantiating proposals for funding.

Agenda item 2 - Alternatives Assessment

In part one, Bev Thorpe of the Clean Production Action presented the design and principles of Alternatives Assessment and provided examples of the Washington State Children's Safe Products Act, California's Safer Consumer Products Regulations and European REACH focus on substitution. In part two, Pam Eliason of the University of Massachusetts Lowell illustrated alternatives assessment using the Massachusetts' example: the policies, the results, the involvement of the supply chain and the lessons learned.

The presentations were of high interest to members and generated discussion on different aspects of alternatives assessment.

Agenda item 3 - Electronic Waste and Electronic Product Stewardship Canada

Stakeholder Advisory Council member Shelagh Kerr, President and CEO of Electronics Product Stewardship Canada presented an overview of waste electronics products (e-waste) in Canada. The presentation focused on the scope of what is considered e-waste, what the current regulatory framework in Canada is, how much e-waste there is in Canada and what is being done by industry and government to reduce e-waste going to landfill. Statistical comparisons between the amount of e-waste collected in Canada (per capita) versus the United States were presented, showing that the numbers in Canada were much more positive.

Members commented on the lack of federal regulations in this area. Provincial regulations exist, however, variations between those regulations were thought to impact the success of e-waste programs among the provinces. There were questions about the recycling processes and if e-waste was recycled in Canada or if it was processed in other countries. It was mentioned that Canada is a signatory of the Basel Convention, and as such requires permits and other control instruments for movement of hazardous waste across borders.

Agenda item 4A - CMP Stakeholder Engagement and Public Outreach Framework

The CMP Stakeholder Engagement and Public Outreach framework was presented with emphasis on public outreach and risk communications activities. The framework is a graphic representation of the various target audiences for CMP and includes examples of communication and outreach tools, and activities such as public summaries. Members observed that the framework only showed a one way flow of information from government to stakeholders. They suggested modifying the framework to include arrows pointing from stakeholders to government and outward from stakeholder groups to their membership to help more accurately reflect their role.

Agenda item 4B - Public Summaries

The history and objectives of public summaries was presented and the observations from a recent comparative analysis against similar risk communication products from other jurisdictions were presented. Statistics were provided about the number of hits the summaries received online and it was highlighted that some summaries were among the most frequently accessed information on the Chemical Substances Web site and were accessed globally. Members were asked to provide feedback on whether the public summaries add value to the program and, if so, to provide suggestions for improvements.

Members clearly indicated that they saw value in the public summaries. Members also flagged several areas for improvement. Discussions took place around the language level and whether it was appropriate for the targeted audience. Some members noted that they are using and promoting them but suggested that some changes to format and use of less technical language would improve their understandability for a more general audience. A 'snappier' approach should be considered. One member noted that it was important to keep the documents current as the version circulated had not been updated since 2009. It was noted that actual health effects and environmental effects are not prominent upon reading the public summary and they should be readily found in the summary. It was also suggested that some information could be presented in tables and that an up-front summary could make them easier to read. It was also suggested that more emphasis be placed on communicating risk by better linking the use, source(s) of exposure and what that means to Canadians.

Agenda item 5 - Early Findings of the Domestic Substances List Inventory Update and Next Steps

An overview of information received for Phase 2 of the Domestic Substances List Inventory Update (DSL IU) was presented, including objective and drivers for the next phase of the DSL IU.

Preliminary analysis of the data received revealed that the quality of the data was significantly higher compared to Phase 1, and that there was a significant increase in the use of the on-line tool over previous data gathering initiatives.  Reasons could be attributed to the level of outreach and enhancements to the reporting system including implementation of business rules and filters.

The objective and drivers for the next phase of the DSL IU were discussed, including possible approaches for data gathering. Stakeholders will play an important role in the development of this next phase. A stakeholder workshop will be held on June 2nd in Toronto and members were invited to participate and provide feedback. An invitation to the workshop will be sent out shortly.

Proposed Agenda Items and Closing Remarks

The co-chairs thanked Council members for the valuable discussion and for their active participation.  Agenda items for future meetings were suggested: update on the response to the petition on section 75 (review of decisions by other jurisdictions) under CEPA 1999; an update on the Regulatory Cooperation Council's work on nanomaterials; Confidential Business Information; and an update on endocrine disruptors in the context of CEPA. An agenda item on CMP and food (food additives and contamination of native traditional food) was also suggested, however, it was concluded that this might be better covered in a discussion on Best Placed Act.

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