Evidence of meeting #35 for Health in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was information.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Weldon Newton  President and Chief Executive Officer, Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission Canada
  • Sharon Watts  Vice-President, Corporate Services Branch and Adjudication, Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission Canada

4:05 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission Canada

Weldon Newton

You're absolutely correct.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Susan Kadis Thornhill, ON

That was what I wanted to clarify.

Thank you.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

Thank you very much.

Mr. Fletcher and Ms. Davidson would like to share.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Yes. I just want to say that I realize the officials have been working on this under the previous government and now the current government. On behalf of the health minister and the government, thank you for all your hard work on this.

With that, I'll pass my time to Ms. Davidson.

January 31st, 2007 / 4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Thank you.

I'd like to thank the presenters. Certainly I think they've clarified most of the questions that I had.

Certainly, I was going to ask a question much along the line of those of Ms. Kadis, but further to what she asked, and again referring to the health and safety aspect of the worker, what, if any, ingredients or chemicals are excluded from trade secret status? Do you have a list that you follow, or is there anything that somebody could say was a trade secret that would not be allowed?

4:05 p.m.

Vice-President, Corporate Services Branch and Adjudication, Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission Canada

Sharon Watts

No, actually, there aren't any lists of products that would be excluded, other than that the product must be a controlled product as defined by the Hazardous Products Act and the controlled products regulations. There are products excluded from that sphere of responsibility, such as pesticides and cosmetics, and those are listed in part II of the Hazardous Products Act.

If you have a controlled product or a hazardous product that meets that definition and you have an ingredient concentration or identity that you don't want to disclose, then you can come to the commission--again, as long as you meet the test of the economic criteria and you submit the accompanying MSDS with it.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Do these rules and regulations apply to a Canadian company as well as an American or any other company?

4:05 p.m.

Vice-President, Corporate Services Branch and Adjudication, Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission Canada

Sharon Watts

Any company that wants to do business in Canada must conform to the Canadian legislation and regulations.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Thank you.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

Thank you.

Ms. Priddy.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy Surrey North, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to the presenters for the information.

I don't know if I should say it's unfortunate, but perhaps there might have been a way for that first exemption to have been worded in a way that any of us who are new would read it with suspicion. I appreciate your explanation that all the health information has to be provided, but it could have been clearer in its wording. That wouldn't have caused Ms. Kadis and I to leap to...if not a conclusion, then a question.

Would it not always be that? Could you not always justify economically that it was a trade secret? Surely, if you have a new product, it's a trade secret. Wouldn't it always come out to be?

4:10 p.m.

Vice-President, Corporate Services Branch and Adjudication, Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission Canada

Sharon Watts

Not necessarily.

What WHMIS wanted to do in the creation of the commission and our tests—so to speak—is to ensure that the product was indeed competitive. It was more than just “I have a product, and there are some things in here that I don't want to disclose”. There had to be a rational and economic reason to keep that information from workers, because WHMIS is all about the right to know. The right to know is part of that balance that we have to always be assuring ourselves we are keeping in check.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy Surrey North, BC

Did you say keep the information from workers? I thought it would be to keep the information from other companies. That's what I would have thought would be the trade secret issue. Why would you want to keep the information from workers?

4:10 p.m.

Vice-President, Corporate Services Branch and Adjudication, Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission Canada

Sharon Watts

If something is being claimed as a trade secret, then that information is not being fully disclosed on the material safety data sheet in the workplace. Not only will the companies not see the information, but the workers who use the product will not know what that chemical identity is.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy Surrey North, BC

I understand that. It would just seem odd that the goal would be, as you stated, to keep the information from workers. It seems a bit off.

Can you please tell me the union or labour people who—sorry, you must have a list—are on your council who signed on to the amendments? In case they land on my desk, with both feet I'd like to be able to say, “Hey, you guys or gals signed off.”