Public comment process on Risk Assessment documents
The Public Comment Process
Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999), the following types of risk assessment documents must be published in the Canada Gazette for a 60-day public comment period:
- Screening Assessments (section 74)
- Reviews of decisions of other jurisdictions (section 75)
- Priority Substances List Assessments (section 76)
Other risk assessment-related documents, including State of the Science Reports and Science Approach Documents, may also be published in the Canada Gazette and may have a 60-day public comment period.
Comments can span a range of issues related to the risk assessment, and they can be technical in nature. During the 60-day public comment period, any person may also provide new information, such as documentation regarding substance properties, uses, or the exposure components of the risk assessment.
When risk assessment documents are posted for public comment, information concerning the process and timelines for submitting comments is available on this Web site and at the end of the specific Notice in the Canada Gazette.
The Importance of Public Comments
The public comment period is an important step in the risk assessment process as it is the opportunity for interested parties to provide feedback on the assessment. Stakeholders might indicate what they think was done well or they may generally commend the work. Comments are also provided that may identify any inaccuracy in the assessment or provide input on whether the approaches used and conclusions proposed are considered appropriate. The public comment period is also a critical point in the process to provide information that may not have been considered in the draft risk assessment.
Health Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada carefully review all of the comments and information received, and changes are made to the risk assessment during its finalization, as appropriate. For example, if additional environmental or biomonitoring information is provided during the public comment period for a draft screening assessment, this may inform exposure estimates. This may result in replacing conservative assumptions used in the absence of data. This additional information, for example, could reduce the number of exposure scenarios of concern.
Publication of Public Comments and Responses
Once comments are received, they are organized by theme (for example, information gathering, exposure, consultation) and consolidated. Comments are summarized and responses are prepared in clear, concise, and non-technical language, prior to publication on the Environment and Climate Change Canada Web site.
Comments are not directly attributed to the individual that submitted them; however, a list of the stakeholder groups/organizations is typically provided with the summary of public comments and responses. If data or details on studies were submitted, Health Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada acknowledge that the data was provided and that it was considered in finalizing the risk assessment.
The summary of public comments and responses is published simultaneously with the final risk assessment on the Environment and Climate Change Canada Web site.
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