Bill C-469 (Historical)
An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (use of phosphorus)
This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.
Guy André Bloc
Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)
Second Reading and Referral to Committee
(This bill did not become law.)
Environment and Sustainable Development
Committees of the House
June 10th, 2008 / 10:05 a.m.
Bob Mills Red Deer, AB
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development in relation to Bill C-469, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (use of phosphorus), requesting an extension.
June 9th, 2008 / 5:10 p.m.
Maurice Vellacott Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK
I had a question directly, mainly, to Giorgio at this point.
You mentioned a petition that 7,000 people had signed, which was available to all parties, I gather. You mentioned that you had some role or influence in the creation of Bill C-469. I would just ask along those lines, then--because it's good when we get input from across the country, from different people and players, and so on--what kind of direct involvement you had in the drafting of this particular bill. In what fashion were you consulted?
June 9th, 2008 / 4:55 p.m.
Full Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Montréal, As an Individual
No; my only point was that, by getting into a discussion of agriculture and buffer strips, we were getting off today's topic, which is Bill C-469 dealing with phosphorus concentrations in detergents.
We should not just forget about the other issues. However, my view is that those issues have to be resolved one at a time. You will never be able to draft legislation that deals with all sources of phosphorus at the same time. We have to resolve this problem piece by piece. And, phosphorus concentrations in dishwasher detergents are a small piece that we can resolve easily.
June 9th, 2008 / 4:40 p.m.
June 9th, 2008 / 4:40 p.m.
Mark Warawa Langley, BC
Thank you, Chair.
Thank you to the witnesses for being here, and also to Dr. Carignan for being here.
Ms. Jelley, I would like to ask you some questions about the date of the act coming into force. As you are aware, the government introduced a notice of intent to regulate back in February, and for the benefit of you witnesses, I just want to read what Bill C-469 requires.
It says in proposed subsections 117.1(2) and 117.1(3), respectively, that:
Paragraphs (1)(a) and (b) come into force 180 days after the day on which this Act receives royal assent.
Paragraph (1)(c) comes into force 360 days after the day on which this Act receives royal assent.
So if Bill C-469 were to receive royal assent this fall, what would it mean to the industry if we had this in effect six months after receiving royal assent? What would it mean to consumers to have that product available?
June 9th, 2008 / 4 p.m.
Giorgio Vecco Coordinator, COMGA (Gatineau River Watershed Committee)
I will read my statement.
The Comité du bassin versant de la rivière Gatineau, or COMGA, is a regional issue table that brings together a variety of players with an interest in the watershed. Its main mandate is to execute the Water Management Master Plan, or PDE, and its mission is to ensure proper protection of the quality of our water resources.
Following increased detection of algal blooms caused by external phosphorus imported into the lakes of the Gatineau River watershed and Quebec in general, the COMGA introduced an on-line petition on August 16th, 2007, calling for a ban on the use of phosphates in laundry and dishwashing detergents.
When the petition was completed, some two months later, 7,843 people from across the province had signed it and were in support of a complete ban on phosphates in soaps. That petition was immediately presented to the NDP, the Bloc Québécois, the Liberal Party, the Conservative Party and the Green Party.
The involvement of the Bloc Québécois, through its environmental critic, the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, Mr. Bernard Bigras, resulted in the tabling of Bill C-469, an Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, with a view to banning the manufacture, sale or importation of laundry or dishwasher detergents containing phosphates.
Phosphates are still allowed in Canada in concentrations as high as 2.2 per cent by weight, in laundry soaps. As for automatic dishwashing soaps, the proportion of phosphates can be much higher. Some have as much as 8.7 per cent by weight, which reflects the maximum concentration allowed under the laws of certain U.S. states.
The COMGA supports any legislation intended to reduce phosphorus imports into our waterways, as they are one of the main causes of algal blooms from cyanobacteria. That is why we support a ban on the use of phosphates in soap. However, it is important to remain vigilant as regards the formulation of alternatives to phosphates. The addition of phosphates to soaps makes them better at cleaning, because they soften the water and release the dirt in suspension, making oil and grease soluble. Without the softeners, these soaps do not work well in hard water. Hard water is water with a calcium concentration of between 80 and 120 parts per million, which is the case in many municipalities across Quebec.
In the late 1980s, a number of European countries and some U.S. states eliminated phosphates from soaps with a view to avoiding eutrophication of waterways and the formation of mucilage in sea water. The softening action was achieved through the use of other sequestering agents, such as EDTA, NTA, zeolite and sodium citrate.
The COMGA believes it is extremely important that the use of sequestering agents intended to be an alternative to phosphates in the manufacture of soap also be legislated based on their environmental impact. For example, EDTA has sometimes been shown to be extremely toxic. It forms highly stable complexes with metals and can keep in suspension such heavy metals as mercury, cadmium or lead, which are deposited and remain inert on the bottom of waterways. EDTA may also react with iron in hemoglobin, turning it into a poison. Another sequestering agent, NTA, is suspected of causing mutations in humans.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to present the views of the COMGA on this subject.
June 9th, 2008 / 3:45 p.m.
Chera Jelley Director, Policy, Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association
I'm dealing with a cold, so I apologize in advance if I start coughing.
Mr. Chair and members of the committee, it's a pleasure to appear before the committee today. Unfortunately, as the chair has pointed out, Shannon Coombs, president of the CCSPA, was unable to attend at the last minute. I will try to answer any questions you may have to the best of my ability. I am Chera Jelley, and I'm the director of policy for CCSPA.
The Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association is a national trade association, which represents 46 member companies across Canada. Collectively it is a $20 billion industry, directly employing 12,000 people in over 100 facilities. Our companies manufacture, process, package, and distribute consumer, industrial, and institutional specialty products such as soaps and detergents, pest control products, hard surface disinfectants, deodorizers, and automotive chemicals.
On September 26, 2007, CCSPA announced an industry-led initiative to limit the phosphorous content of household automatic dishwasher detergent manufactured for sale in Canada, to a maximum of 0.5% by weight, effective July 2010. Regulatory and legislative changes with these same goals are currently under way in several U.S. states and in the provinces of Manitoba and Quebec. It is critical to have the same regulatory requirements in both Canada and the U.S., to ensure an integrated and harmonized North American market. This will allow our industry to remain competitive on the global market.
On February 15, 2008, the Government of Canada announced its intention to regulate the phosphorous content in laundry detergent and dishwasher detergents to a maximum of 0.5% effective 2010. The notice of intent was published the following day in the Canada Gazette, Part I. CCSPA supports the intent of the notice of intent and will be participating in the consultation process, both on the NOI and the anticipated regulatory amendments to the phosphorous concentration regulations under CEPA.
CCSPA recommends to the committee that Bill C-469 not proceed as it conflicts with existing federal regulation, the federal notice of intent to create new federal regulations, the draft legislation in Manitoba, and the draft regulations in Quebec.
There are a few reasons why Bill C-469 should not proceed. As stated in CEPA, it is recommended that separate regulations be established in order to deal with the concentration levels of a prescribed new trend in products such as laundry detergents and dishwasher detergents. The intent of CEPA was not to prescribe concentration limits within the act itself; it was done to keep the legislation concise and with the knowledge that it is more efficient to create or amend regulations rather than amend existing legislation.
As the senior counsel for the Department of Justice pointed out at the committee last week, CEPA is a framework that enables the creation of regulations. He said that the regulations are the best place to make these changes. If it is done via legislation, which is the intent of Bill C-469, it ties the hands of a flexible regime, i.e., CEPA. Changing the act itself actually weakens the regime; it doesn't make it stronger.
It is important to note that reducing the amount of phosphorous in automatic dishwasher detergents and laundry detergent will not solve the blue-green algae problem, as the largest contributors are human sewage waste and agriculture runoff. Laundry detergents and automatic dishwasher detergents account for approximately 1%.
Unless the two significant contributors are addressed, blue-green algae will continue to be a problem. An example would be Italy, which is one of three European countries to have a specific household automatic dishwasher detergent limit. Italy reduced the phosphorous content in household automatic dishwasher detergent to 6% over an eight-year staged process. While the eutrophication has been reduced, it is widely believed that it was a combination of substantial investment in upgrading waste water treatment facilities and consecutive years of dry summers.
In conclusion, regulatory authority already exists under CEPA to create regulations that limit the phosphorous content in products such as dishwasher detergent and laundry detergents. Providing limitations and regulations rather than legislation allows flexibility for future changes and/or additions. Making changes to legislation is often more challenging.
The federal government has already indicated their desire to regulate the phosphorous content in these products through a notice of intent. This will allow the government to amend the existing federal regulations and will ensure consistency with proposed regulations in Quebec, draft regulations in Manitoba, and current regulations that already exist in several U.S. states.
In our opinion, amending legislation may provide a cumbersome challenge for future governments to modify phosphorus levels for the targeted product categories in this discussion. Therefore, CCSPA recommends one of two options. The first is that the bill not proceed; instead, a motion should be passed requesting that the federal government proceed with a federal regulation under the phosphorus concentration regulation. The second is that the bill be amended to instruct the Minister of the Environment to create federal regulations under the phosphorus concentration regulations.
This will ensure that regulations are created, rather than amendments to CEPA.
As the officials from the Department of Justice have pointed out, amending the act, which Bill C-469 proposes, will actually weaken CEPA, not make it stronger. While we support the intent of the bill, we think it is better to amend the existing federal regulations.
Thank you for allowing me to participate today, and I welcome any questions.
June 9th, 2008 / 3:40 p.m.
Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC
We can hear from the witnesses now, but I would like to have ten minutes at the end to take another look at our future committee work. I think that would be appropriate. We are not going to get into a second debate, but we should consider whether the Committee could meet next Thursday in order to proceed with clause-by-clause consideration. That way, we could complete our study of Bill C-469 and, next week, begin our consideration of other items, as agreed recently.
June 9th, 2008 / 3:35 p.m.
Mark Warawa Langley, BC
I don't have a problem with giving an extension to Bill C-469, but the testimony we heard at our last meeting from the department—Daniel Blasioli said what is being proposed would actually weaken CEPA—really concerned me.
What's being proposed by a Bloc member, Mr. André—and thank you for being here--and what the government did by notice of intent in February are pretty similar, but they have different results. In doing it by regulation as opposed to by a private member's bill, you use CEPA and amend what's already in CEPA to 0.5%. Its effective coming into force date will be July 2010.
So the bills are similar. The Bloc wants it to come into force approximately a year earlier, and we can hear from witnesses what the ramifications of that will be. But I want to remind the committee that what's being proposed will actually weaken CEPA. We don't want to weaken any environmental legislation; we want to strengthen things when we can. We just did a total CEPA review about a year ago.
I'm a little concerned, and I would ask if Mr. Bigras would be willing to remove Bill C-469.
June 9th, 2008 / 3:35 p.m.
Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC
Mr. Chairman, I would like to begin by reading the motion I am tabling, and then I will explain my rationale.
That the Committee report to the House at its first opportunity the following: Pursuant to Standing Order 97.1, your Committee is requesting an extension of thirty sitting days to consider Bill C-469, an Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (use of phosphorus) thereby providing the Committee with a total of ninety sitting days during which to complete its study of the bill. The Committee finds it necessary to consult further in order to give the bill the consideration it requires. Therefore, it requests an extension of thirty sitting days.
The reason I am tabling this motion today is as follows: as you know, we have a schedule for our study of Bill C-469. According to that schedule, we were supposed to hear from witnesses today and go to clause-by-clause consideration of the bill on Wednesday. However, it is now clear that no committees will be meeting on Wednesday. Because we have until June 11 to study this bill, I am proposing an extension.