Summary Report - November 23, 2016 - Chemicals Management Plan Stakeholder Advisory Council

Chemicals Management Plan Stakeholder Advisory Council Meeting

  • Co-Chairs:
    • Jacqueline Gonçalves (Director General, Science and Risk Assessment Directorate, Environment and Climate Change Canada [ECCC])
    • David Morin (Director General, Safe Environments Directorate, Health Canada [HC])
    • Virginia Poter (Director General, Industrial Sectors, Chemicals and Waste Directorate, ECCC)
  • Council members present:
    • Aleksandra Pogoda
    • Amardeep Khosla
    • Andy Dabydeen
    • Anne Rochon Ford
    • Barb MacKinnon
    • Beta Montemayor
    • Cathy Campbell
    • Curtis Scurr
    • Dave Saucier
    • Dr. Donald Spady
    • Elaine MacDonald
    • Dr. Elizabeth Nielsen
    • Eric Loring
    • Fe de Leon
    • Gary Leroux
    • Joshua McNeely
    • Justyna Laurie-Lean
    • Maggie MacDonald
    • Philippe Cantin
    • Sandra Madray
    • Shannon Coombs
    • Shelagh Kerr
    • Scott Thurlow
    • Yasmin Tarmohamed
  • Government officials present:
    • ECCC
      • David Beck
      • Greg Carreau
      • Jake Sanderson
      • Jennifer Larlee
      • Mary-Ann Spicer
      • Sophie Bernier
      • Melanie Peris
      • Nicole Davidson
      • Shannon Castellarin
      • Susan Fraser
    • HC
      • Alex Halkett
      • Andrew Beck
      • Christine Norman
      • Maya Berci
      • Margaret Moore
      • Shaunalea Savard
      • Suzanne Leppinen
    • Treasury Board Secretariat - Regulatory Cooperation Council Secretariat
      • Leila Bocksch

Opening remarks

The Co-chairs (the Chairs) welcomed the Members of the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) Stakeholder Advisory Council (SAC), and introduced the observers present. The Chairs gave an overview of the agenda and reviewed several stakeholder engagement activities that have taken place since the last meeting.

Recap of the November 22, 2016, SAC information session

The SAC information sessions are a series of presentations to be completed during the SAC mandate on key aspects of the CMP. Government officials provided an overview of the November 22, 2016 SAC information session and summarized the following key highlights:

  • Topics discussed included: The New Substances Notification Regulations as well as Information Gathering under the CMP.
  • Members discussed differences in assessments between new and existing substances such as the specific timing and pre-market assessment. Members were interested in seeing more statistics on new substances, particularly relating to enforcement and consumer products. Information on the modernization of the New Substances Program was well-received and support was noted for elements such as pre-notification consultations (PNC), early termination (greenlight) requests and the overarching Significant New Activity (SNAc) policy.
  • The Information Gathering presentation provided an overview of the importance of information gathering and the different mechanisms that are used. An update on the Confidential Business Information (CBI) approach was also provided. Members expressed an interest in better understanding the information collected to assess the performance of risk management measures.

Members appreciated the information session and expressed an interest in continuing these sessions before each SAC meeting to expand knowledge on specific CMP topics.

Action items

  • Government to send examples of risk management measures taken, as well as performance indicators to address environmental and human health concerns.
  • SAC Secretariat to organize the next SAC information session on topic of interest to SAC members.

Agenda item 1 - CMP updates

Government officials provided an update of progress in risk assessment and risk management initiatives under the CMP.

A summary was provided of the key achievements, activities and work plans relating to information gathering, risk assessment, risk management, engagement and outreach (including public outreach), research, and monitoring and surveillance since the launch of the program. International collaboration was also highlighted, in particular the strengthening of relationships with chemical management initiatives in the United States (U.S.) and Europe.

Members appreciated the program updates and shared an interest in learning more about outreach sessions and communication products for respective audiences. Overall, SAC members were pleased with communications and stakeholder engagement.

Action items

  • None identified

Agenda item 2 - CMP communications

A CMP SAC Communications Sub-group was created following the April 2016 SAC meeting and tasked with reporting back recommendations to the CMP SAC at the November 2016 meeting. The sub-group was created to identify approaches to improve communications around the CMP, specifically with respect to sharing knowledge on assessment and management findings with various demographics and stakeholder groups. The Co-Chairs of the sub-group presented the outcome of their work since the last meeting.

The group discussed the current context and communication products to identify gaps in levels of knowledge across a range of stakeholders and the general public. Findings indicated that awareness about the CMP and chemical safety ranged from no knowledge to considerable knowledge. A significant gap identified was for vulnerable populations who may have a need for targeted information.

It was noted that the CMP's current framework for engagement and outreach is good but could be improved to reach a broader stakeholder base. The examination of existing communication products showed that they have a limited effectiveness and reach to all stakeholders due to the fact that stakeholders use information differently for different needs. The language level in some of these products was sometimes too high for a general audience. With such a broad range of stakeholders, collaboration with partners is necessary for the development and delivery of a suite of communications tools. Building and maintaining credibility with audiences is important.

Examples of communications products were presented and divided into two streams: information about the CMP (purpose, structure, process), and chemical-specific information (decisions under CMP, chemical safety risks). Future communication plans must incorporate the needs of a varied stakeholder group and emphasize collaboration for delivery. It is essential to consider who the stakeholders are, and what they need, in order to determine the optimal communication delivery options (tools, content, channels, by whom).

Members noted the importance of plain language products, and suggested using CMP partners to help fine-tune the applicable messaging. There is a strong need for synergy between different stakeholder groups and government in order to reach all intended audiences (for example, crafting targeted messages for various membership lists). Members suggested that government websites could be more accessible (navigation, use of plain language) and could use an anecdotal or story-telling approach.

Members noted that even with existing communication gaps, current products have addressed many needs, and that different audience groups are using the information currently available. Members recognized mutual responsibility to help fill in gaps and notify of components that may be missing. They also agreed that government would benefit from having media or marketing experts on the team to help produce a solid communications plan. A suggestion was made to provide funding for stakeholders to help develop a communication process.

Action items

  • Sub-group to send links to examples of chemical-related communication products
  • Sub-group to provide government with names of experts in the communications field whose knowledge can be leveraged
  • Chairs to discuss and confirm path forward for CMP SAC Communications Sub-Group activities

Agenda item 3 - CMP risk management

Government officials gave an overview of Canada's current engagement under various Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) related to chemicals and waste. Four specific policy objectives were identified for Canada's international engagement on chemicals for MEAS included: strengthen domestic implementation, advance implementation beyond our borders, enhance global readiness to address emerging issues, and to encourage green growth.

Members inquired about existing Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with other countries and whether it would be possible to leverage Canadian work by combining resources with other international initiatives. Government officials remarked that Canada has done some capacity building in Columbia and Costa Rica through the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD)'s Accession process, and in Chile through the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), a group under the World Health Organization (WHO). Members agreed that it would be helpful to learn from the MOU experience moving forward. Members expressed the view that issues like emerging trends in health impacts and promotion of safer alternatives would be important to bring to international fora on chemicals management.

Action items

  • None identified

Agenda item 4 - Canada-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Council - update

Government officials provided background on the Canada-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) initiative, emphasizing the benefits of regulatory cooperation to businesses, consumers and stakeholder on both sides of the border. The importance of engaging stakeholders in this work, obtaining support and oversight from senior government officials, and starting with a similar regulatory system were identified as key components of a successful model for regulatory cooperation projects. Moving forward, international focus on regulatory cooperation will be increased through inclusion of regulatory cooperation chapters in free trade agreements.

An update on the progress of the current RCC Chemicals Management Work Plan was provided. Since 2015, HC, ECCC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) have collaborated in the implementation of a work plan that focused on two areas: risk assessment and requirements for regulatory government notification of new activities for certain substances (SNAc provisions in Canada and Significant New Use Rules in the U.S.). There are a number of areas of potential interest for a new work plan that will be initiated in 2017.

Members questioned whether recent data that has been generated in Canada for CMP can be shared with the U.S. and whether recent reforms to the U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act have influenced discussions. It was noted that the U.S. EPA has expressed interest in Canada's prioritization mechanisms (for example, rapid screening and the basis behind it). In addition to benefitting Canada and the U.S., outcomes of RCC work have contributed to discussions in international fora such as the OECD.

Action items

  • None identified

Agenda item 5 - revised In-Commerce List update

Government officials provided an update on the prioritization of the revised In-Commerce List (ICL). The ICL is a list of substances in Canadian commerce used in products regulated by the Food and Drugs Act between January 1987 and September 2001. Substances on the revised ICL include substances in pharmaceuticals, veterinary drugs, cosmetics, biologics, food products, natural health products, and medical devices. ICL substances that are not on the Domestic Substances List (DSL) have not been subject to the mandatory requirement for government notification and assessment as new substances under CEPA 1999. Therefore, prioritization of the list was completed to identify those substances that require review to determine whether they may pose a risk to human health or the environment.

A document describing the approach to prioritization was published in November 2015. Prioritization of the ICL was completed considering risk-based factors such as hazard, exposure, impact to human health and the environment, as well as substance use pattern and toxicological properties. Concepts from stakeholder consultations, DSL categorization, and the New Substances Program were incorporated into the prioritization as well.

Approximately 25% of substances on the ICL have been prioritized for further consideration. Future work concerning these substances may include additional information gathering and analysis, research and monitoring, or leveraging work in other program areas. Next steps include the publishing of prioritization results for public comment, collecting data on a subset of ICL substances through future Inventory Updates and conducting risk assessments.

Much of the discussion pertaining to this agenda item focussed on clarifying the notification and assessment process as well as the status for substances such as nanomaterials or naturally-occurring substances.

Action items

  • None identified

Agenda item 6 - Discussion of SAC Forward Agenda topics

Members were asked for ideas for topics to add to the Forward Agenda and a number of suggestions were provided, including:

  • performance measurement and practical applications of risk management instruments - how to ensure the tools or instruments are achieving the results or progress towards risk reduction;
  • endocrine disruption - consideration in CMP risk assessments;
  • cumulative effects of chemicals - consideration in CMP decision-making;
  • nanomaterials;
  • Identification of Risk Assessment Priorities (IRAP, formerly Assessment Triggers);
  • emerging chemicals of concern such as pharmaceuticals and microplastics;
  • informed chemical substitution and examples of approaches to accomplish this;
  • post 2020 work planning;
  • update on the Office of Auditor General's Report on Chemicals in Consumer Products and Cosmetics and Health Canada's Self-Care Products Framework - currently under consultation; and,
  • Science Approach Documents (SciADs).

Closing Remarks

The Chairs thanked SAC members for the valuable discussions and for their active participation. Members were also encouraged to reach out to the CMP SAC Secretariat or staff at any time.

The next meeting is proposed for May 2017, with a half-day information session scheduled a day in advance.

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