National Strategy for Safe and Environmentally Sound Disposal of Lamps Containing Mercury Act

An Act respecting the development of a national strategy for the safe and environmentally sound disposal of lamps containing mercury

Sponsor

Darren Fisher  Liberal

Introduced as a private member’s bill.

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment provides for the development and implementation of a national strategy to promote the safe and environmentally sound disposal of lamps containing mercury.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

Oct. 19, 2016 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

National Strategy for Safe Disposal of Lamps Containing Mercury ActPrivate Members' Business

May 30th, 2016 / 11:40 a.m.
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North Vancouver B.C.

Liberal

Jonathan Wilkinson LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to the bill introduced by the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, which proposes the development of a national strategy for the safe disposal of lamps that contain mercury. I certainly commend him for his efforts in this regard. The lamps referred to in the bill are light bulbs such as florescent tubes or compact florescent light bulbs, which are known commercially as lamps.

Mercury, as many of us know, is a potent neurotoxin that can cause damage to the brain, central nervous system, kidneys, and lungs, and is particularly damaging to the development of the human fetus, infants, and young children. It is a chemical of global concern due to its high toxicity and its ability to travel long distances in the atmosphere. It has impacts on human health and the environment in places far from its source of release, such as Canada's Arctic. There, mercury levels in wildlife have been increasing over the past 30 years.

While the effects of mercury are most significant in Canada's Arctic and pose a particular risk to populations who rely heavily on the consumption of predatory fish and traditional food, the impacts are evident in all regions of Canada. The bill could make an important contribution to reducing releases of mercury and can build on other actions Canada has taken domestically and internationally.

Domestically, the federal government has undertaken several targeted policy and program initiatives to reduce emissions and releases. Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the government is taking action to address the health and environmental risks of mercury, including mercury from lamps.

For example, the products containing mercury regulations prohibit the manufacture and import of products containing mercury, with some exemptions for essential products that have no technically or economically viable alternatives, for example, certain medical and research applications, and dental amalgam. In the case of lamps, the regulations limit the amount of mercury the lamps can contain and require labelling to inform consumers of the presence of mercury, safe handling procedures, and options for end-of-life management and recycling.

In addition, in April of this year, the government published a proposed code of practice for the environmentally sound management of end-of-life lamps containing mercury. The code of practice provides guidance on environmental best practices for managing these lamps at their end of life. It also includes information on diversion and end-of-life management options for areas where access to recycling and disposal facilities is limited, such as northern and remote communities.

The proposed code of practice is open for comment until June 6, 2016, and the government plans to publish the final code of practice by the end of 2016.

In addition to federal measures to address mercury in lamps, there are federal regulations aimed at other activities, which also reduce mercury emissions and releases. For example, federal regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions from the coal-fired electricity sector have an added benefit of reducing the mercury released into the atmosphere. Regulations on effluent from metal mines include limits on the release of mercury to water.

In March of this year, the government also published the first national evaluation of mercury in the Canadian environment, called the Canadian Mercury Science Assessment. During the period covered by the assessment, which was 1990 to 2010, Canadian emissions of mercury to the air decreased by 85%. Despite the decreases in Canadian emissions, however, ambient levels of mercury in the air in Canada have only decreased by 18% on average from 1995 to 2010. This is because over 95% of the mercury that results from human activity and gets deposited in Canada comes from foreign sources: approximately 40% from East Asia, 17% from the United States, 8% from Europe, and 6% from South Asia.

These foreign sources of mercury include emissions to air from industrial sources in other countries. They also include the use of mercury in small-scale gold mining, and in various products and processes, as well as from the disposal of wastes containing mercury and the re-emission of mercury from contaminated sites. While Canadian mercury emissions are expected to continue to decrease due to our ongoing efforts, global emissions are predicted to increase, in part due to the growth of coal-fired power plants in China and India.

In light of the impact of global activities, Canada continues to be a strong proponent of international action on mercury and the government is working toward ratifying the Minamata Convention on Mercury, a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from human-generated emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.

Returning now to the bill being debated, this important initiative would also result in less mercury getting into the environment and will benefit the health of Canadians and the environment.

Bill C-238 deals with one source of mercury emissions, lamps. The bill would put an obligation on the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to develop and implement a national strategy for the safe disposal of lamps containing mercury. The bill would also require the minister to work in co-operation with partners and stakeholders in order to table a national strategy within two years of the act receiving royal assent by Parliament, or December 31, 2018, whichever is later. Every five years after the national strategy is initially tabled, the minister would report on the effectiveness of the national strategy.

This private member's bill complements the government's current actions on mercury. The national strategy that would be developed as a result of the bill would facilitate a harmonized approach, focusing on existing gaps to achieve environmental and sound management at end-of-life lamps containing mercury.

The bill envisages that the minister will seek the support of other governments across the country to develop and implement a national strategy. Responsibility for managing waste is shared among federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments.

The Government of Canada currently regulates international and interprovincial movements of hazardous waste, manages waste on federal lands, and has extensive authorities to regulate toxic substances and products that contain them. Provincial and territorial jurisdictions regulate waste management operations and facilities, and the end-of-life management of products. Municipal governments collect and manage waste for recycling and disposal.

The development and implementation of the national strategy will also require support and input from industry, environmental groups, municipalities and Indigenous groups. We will need to hear from these stakeholders about what should be included in the national strategy to help advance this important issue.

We look forward to hearing from all our partners and stakeholders as to what is needed to develop an effective national strategy. It should build on successful programs, such as the work done through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, and should address the gaps that exist. We already know what some of those gaps might be, such as a lack of public awareness on the importance of recycling these lamps as well diversion programs for northern and remote communities.

I am pleased to say that the government is supportive of this bill. We will encourage the committee to do a careful reading of its provisions to ensure that the national strategy does not duplicate efforts already under way and can focus on the gaps that may exist across the country.

Once again, I would like to thank the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour for bringing the bill before the House. It will help to focus national attention on the issue. I am confident that when we all work together, we can make a significant difference in addressing the safe disposal of lamps containing mercury.

National Strategy for Safe Disposal of Lamps Containing Mercury ActPrivate Members' Business

May 30th, 2016 / 11:30 a.m.
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NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was worried for a moment. I am sure it was a good question, too. We will have to find a way to get it on the record. Perhaps our friend can offer a speech on the bill.

New Democrats will be supporting Bill C-238. We think it would go some measure toward doing some important things for our environment, which Canadians are rightly concerned with. It is a deeply held belief and value by Canadians that as we go about our daily lives, feed our kids, light our homes, and go to work, we do not want to be doing harm.

At the heart of the legislation is a notion around a principle that is often not applied when we pass legislation and laws in this place. It is a notion, which has been long-standing, called the precautionary principle. It suggests that before we go out and bring a new product or chemical into the world, we should look at all the best available evidence to understand if there are any impacts or exposure to the environment that would bring risk to the environment or the health of Canadians.

Clearly around issues of mercury or any of the highly classified toxins, as we innovate and try to get that green economy, products that use less energy, that are less wasteful in a whole bunch of different ways, it is important to take the full life-cycle costs and the full understanding of what it is that we are buying, producing in our factories, and bringing in from overseas.

The bill would move us in that direction. However, there is a couple of concerns that we have but they are concerns that can be addressed as the bill moves through. One is around the element of education. We know that changing the way we recycle and use products is important, but a key element in that is that consumers have full knowledge and full participation in whatever program we are trying to initiate.

The bill is interesting in that the federal government does not really have jurisdiction to direct provinces, territories, and municipalities to do one thing or another with their waste streams. We can offer some guidance. We can have some encouragement. We can bring in laws that restrict the use of certain products.

However, in terms of recycling, in terms of the reusing of certain products, what the bill seeks to do is three things. One of them is set up a national strategy. We know, and we have been told, that Environment Canada is engaged in producing such a strategy. This would be encouragement for the department to get on with it.

It is not news that mercury and other toxins are highly lethal, not just to humans but to a lot of things that humans care about, like the planet, fish, birds, and all the rest of that. It is curious that we have gone so long, and there are have been some delays by previous governments in introducing legislation. My understanding is that as we have been exporting a lot of this harmful material south of the border into their recycling facilities, there is not a lot of enthusiasm to continue to have that stream going to the United States and other countries. It is a good principle that Canada takes care of its own garbage and pollution. This seems like a basic understanding and value that we would all share.

I suppose, as my friend from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour has said, this is the beginning of a conversation with provinces and territories. In my experience, they sometimes like to have that conversation in advance of legislation being brought forward, but it is a big task for a single member of Parliament to take on, to try to engage with all the provinces and territories. However, that is going to be vital. Oftentimes if our partners at the provincial and territorial level feel like an initiative is also their idea, they are much more enthusiastic about participating and going through the process. If they feel like it is Ottawa imposing an idea, that can have the opposite reaction.

It is curious, simply because when we have dealt with other issues from the government, it has had very long and strenuous consultation processes, sometimes to the point of frustration. John Manley used to talk about constipation through consultation. There can be a tendency within governments that when it is not sure how to proceed, it continues to consult and consult and never really does anything. Ottawa loves to study things.

I am encouraged that there is an initiative in here that says we should go forward and do something. There is maybe going to have to be some extra energy put toward the consultation side, particularly at the municipal level. For those of us in the House who have engaged in municipal government, they have very few resources, and by that I mean money, to deal with a lot of issues. Their budgets are often strained. They cannot, as the federal government does and the previous one did, run massive deficits. It is just not available to municipal governments.

One of the first questions I am going to get from councillors, town councillors, and mayors is, “How do we pay for this?” If this is going to end up on their bottom line, they want to be able to participate and do it right, but they also want to ensure they do not bear all the costs. That is a completely fair understanding of the situation.

We also see in the bill that there would be a report-back mechanism, and I believe it would be in two years. There would be an ability for us to have a sense of where the strategy is going and whether it is working. One of the things that I would encourage is that we would have some clear metrics designed, if they are not already in place in the legislation, so that reporting back is not anecdotal or subjective but is quite objective and fact-based. What is the level of mercury hitting the landfills right now? What is the expectation of the legislation in terms of reducing that pollution? Are we able to achieve those targets, and if we are off, why are we off? That accountability is important to Canadians because they have too often heard large ambitions from governments that are left relatively vague. When it comes time to see whether the thing worked, there is no way to actually hold government to account because the measures were never put in place.

My friend from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour talked about the need for environmental leadership, and we agree that for far too long, on the broader issue of the environment, the federal government has been absent or heavy on the rhetoric but very light on the action. Probably no issue underlines that fact more than the issue of climate change, where we have seen, in fact, a lot of leadership from the municipal, provincial, and territorial levels but an absence of that here in Parliament where it has been a frustrating 30-year process of trying to deal with the issue of climate change and carbon pollution into our atmosphere.

As my friend from the Liberal side noted earlier, some will come to this debate and say that it is only costs. This is a cost to consumers. It is going to be a cost to the economy. It is going to hurt the creation of jobs and only cost consumers and taxpayers. I would argue that this is an example where, if we look at the full cost of what is happening, there is a cost already being borne on municipalities and provinces, in trying to deal with these toxins, like mercury. There is a cost to consumers and Canadians directly through their health care.

I was just with a friend this past weekend, when I was back home in Smithers, who is dealing with mercury contamination issues, yet his exposure to them was never through his work. The doctors have looked back and realized that it was from playing with old discarded light bulbs, as many of us did as kids playing Star Wars and busting them up with no knowledge that we were being exposed to something like mercury, which can bioaccumulate. That means it can continue to stay in our systems decades after exposure. My friend is facing serious health consequences now. It may be through diet, which is also a concern, but it was actually just through exposure as a young person.

All this is to say that when addressing any issue and looking at any product, any chemical, any toxin, we look at the full life-cycle of the product from cradle to grave. We look at how we are taking care and being responsible consumers, and how it is when the government puts forward legislation it is seen through a lens that is clearly understood by Canadians and is accountable to Canadians.

This is not what this bill is, but I would greatly encourage the current government to apply the same principles it has in the legislation to things like climate change and reviewing industrial projects, such as mines and pipelines, so that we have a clear accounting for what that precautionary principle is and we have a clear accounting of what the true costs are of any government decision. It would not be some vague subjective notion but something that people could hold the government to account on.

If they are going to approve an oil pipeline like Kinder Morgan to Vancouver, what are the Liberals actually taking into account? This would not be some sort of subjective “we looked at climate change”, but what the actual contribution upstream and downstream is, and what the full life-cycle cost of any decision that we make is. Canadians make these decisions all the time. If they put funds into their kids' education program, they try to understand what the full costs and benefits are. As a government, we should run ourselves as a household, and as many families do, understand what the full cost of any activity or inactivity might be.

I thank my friend from Nova Scotia for his bill.

National Strategy for Safe Disposal of Lamps Containing Mercury ActPrivate Members' Business

May 30th, 2016 / 11:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am grateful to my colleague on the environment committee for bringing forward this initiative. I think he would admit that this legislation builds on our previous Conservative government's actions to control mercury within our environment in Canada.

A lot of Canadians do not realize that Canada does not mine mercury. Canada is arguably the richest country in the world when it comes to natural resources, but mining mercury is not one of those activities. Ninety-five per cent of all the mercury deposited in Canada comes from foreign sources, which is why our former Conservative government was active in negotiating the Minamata Convention on Mercury, an international convention that essentially calls for tough measures to reduce mercury emissions. That was in 2013.

In November 2014, we followed that up with the products containing mercury regulations, which essentially prohibit the broad import and manufacture of products containing mercury, with limited exemptions. These regulations are expected to reduce by somewhere in the order of 21 tonnes the mercury that will be emitted into our environment between 2015 and 2032.

I appreciate the member's effort to build upon our previous government's work. This is important. The work we do at committee is not only about the environment but about sustainability, the long-term balancing of the environment with our economic objectives. We want to make sure that, as the Liberal government has said so often and as we used to say, the environment and the economy have to go hand in hand.

Some of the measures we are undertaking at the environment committee include a study, which we have now completed, on the Federal Sustainable Development Act. We are undertaking right now a study on conservation, which includes parkland and marine conservation areas. We are also undertaking a review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. All of these serve Canada's interests to make sure that, as we move forward, we continue to make our environment safer, cleaner, and healthier for Canadians to live in.

Bill C-238, a national strategy for the safe disposal of lamps containing mercury, contains three elements. The first would establish national standards for the safe disposal of mercury-containing lamps. The second would establish guidelines regarding facilities for safe disposal of these lamps. The third would create a plan to promote public awareness of the importance of safe disposal of these kinds of lamps. Right now these lamps end up in our landfills, and the mercury leaches into our soil and our water sources. Virtually all Canadians would agree that is something we do not want to see happen.

This bill attempts to establish a strategy. I would ask the member why we need a national strategy. As our former Conservative government moved forward to address the presence of mercury within our environment, we acted. We did not simply establish strategies and talk shops where we prolonged any action on these measures, but we acted. We signed the Minamata Convention. We moved forward with regulations on mercury and mercury emissions. We do not need a formal strategy to get this done. The Liberal government has within its full power the ability to move forward with its own legislation and to move forward with its own regulations and policies that would build upon the work that our former Conservative government did in this area.

Some national strategies that have been presented are worthwhile, especially the ones addressing many of the health challenges still present in Canada. However a strategy is simply a call to develop a plan, whereas moving forward with action goes to the very substance of what we hope to achieve.

The bill would also require this strategy to be tabled in the House within two years and then reviewed every five years to make sure it is in keeping with new strategies for the disposal of mercury-containing lamps.

By the way, I am going to support this bill going to committee, because I want to continue to build on the work that the previous Conservative government achieved, to make sure we continue to clean up our environment of mercury contamination. However, the challenge is to make sure any initiative or strategy is cost efficient and does not impose additional undue tax burden on Canadian taxpayers or red tape that ties up businesses, provinces, and municipalities.

The member actually admitted in his opening comments that the provinces and municipalities are implicated in this strategy. Much of the work and cost in implementing this strategy would actually be done at the provincial and municipal levels, which is where these recycling and disposal facilities would be located. Conservatives, of course, are always concerned with what kinds of additional costs will be imposed on Canadians.

As a Conservative government, we were very proud of a record of having reduced Canada's tax burden to the lowest level in over 50 years, and Canadians welcomed that. They do not want to pay more taxes, but they understand that we want to keep our environment clean.

I looked at a few pieces of legislation similar to this one that have already been presented in the House and to which I had a chance to speak. Motion No. 45 required that all infrastructure projects at the municipal level that are over $500 million in value would have to go through a full climate change impact analysis to determine what the upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emission implications would be for those projects.

The member who brought this private member's bill forward suggested that projects at the municipal level, chosen to meet the needs of municipalities and provinces, would actually be seen through a lens of climate change rather than for the purposes for which those projects were being built and planned. This would impose huge additional costs on our local governments, additional red tape, and delays, and it would discourage the municipalities from moving forward with critical infrastructure in their communities.

The same thing was true for Bill C-227, a private member's bill, which would place a requirement on contractors for projects within the federal realm. In other words, if a building contractor wanted to bid on a federal building project, the contractor would have to go through a community benefit analysis. On top of all the other red tape government has already imposed on those wishing to do business with government, it now wants an additional community benefit analysis, which again would add additional costs, more red tape, and increased costs of projects, because that would have to be built into the bid price.

On top of that, it would complicate the federal bidding process, by adding more and more red tape to the process, when in fact these projects should be bid based on best value for the taxpayers' dollar, or in other words, the best value for the best price. Therefore, Conservatives have a right to be skeptical about the bill before us. Is it going to be another example of Liberals' overreaching, adding additional cost to taxpayers?

In both of these cases, of course, as much as the motives behind these initiatives are laudable, the motion and this bill would actually pose additional regulatory burdens on Canadians, and that is my fear with this strategy. Quite frankly, the member could have moved forward with simply asking the government to move forward with regulations in consultation with the provinces and municipalities to provide the appropriate recycling and disposal policies across the country. For whatever reason, the member did not do that.

Hopefully, this matter will be fully discussed at committee. I will certainly be asking the member questions about costs, regulatory burdens, and exactly what this would mean for Canadian taxpayers. I look forward to the discussion, and I know the member and I are going to work very closely to make sure this is done in a way that is respectful of taxpayers and also addresses the very real concerns of mercury within our environment.

National Strategy for Safe Disposal of Lamps Containing Mercury ActPrivate Members' Business

May 30th, 2016 / 11:05 a.m.
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Liberal

Darren Fisher Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

moved that Bill C-238, An Act respecting the development of a national strategy for the safe disposal of lamps containing mercury, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud and delighted to rise today to speak to Bill C-238, a national strategy for the safe disposal of lamps containing mercury act.

First I would like to thank my constituents of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour for having faith in me to effect real change and to make their voices heard in Ottawa. It is an honour to come here and work hard on their behalf to create a better environment for Canadians.

My private member's bill calls upon our Minister of Environment and Climate Change to open a dialogue and work with our provinces and territories to develop a robust national strategy ensuring that lamps containing mercury are safely disposed of.

We know that mercury is toxic.

However, Canadians are dumping toxic mercury into landfills daily.

I am thankful to the members who have seconded my bill, and I am truly honoured by the kind words I have received from members across the country. I am also encouraged by their feedback and their eagerness to protect Canada's environment.

I am touched that the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands approached me early on to jointly second the bill. I commend her environmental leadership and passion to work across party lines for the greater good. This is not about individuals; it is about protecting Canada as a whole. Canadians expect us to work together and find solutions together.

Private members' bills are often deeply personal. In 2012, I represented the Burnside Industrial Park in Dartmouth. Burnside is home to hundreds of innovative businesses and manufacturers, and it is the largest industrial park in eastern Canada. We have world leaders in solar technology. We have businesses contributing to shipbuilding. We even have research happening daily on the development of a Tesla battery.

It was during this period that I toured Dan-x Recycling. Dan-x is located in my riding of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour and is committed to ensuring that all mercury-bearing light bulbs are diverted from landfills and properly recycled. During my tour, I asked the normal questions that one would ask. I asked what the regulations are for end-of-life mercury light bulbs. I was shocked to hear that there were none. In light of the fact that there were no regulations, I began working within our municipality to, at the very least, divert the bulbs used in city-owned buildings. We had no enforcement measures to ensure that folks properly disposed of or recycled CFL bulbs. I was told that it had always been expected that with the introduction of CFL bulbs and the continued widespread commercial use of fluorescent bulbs that regulations would soon follow. This is the inspiration for Bill C-238.

The issue of keeping mercury out of our waterways and off our land matters to me as a parent. Like many folks, I want to leave this world a better place for our children and for future generations. That is why I immediately joined the municipal environment committee when I became a councillor for the Halifax Regional Municipality. It is why I am thrilled to now sit on the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development with our federal government.

It was Benjamin Franklin who said that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. It was true back then, and it is as true now. Remediation of land and water is costly, and when preventative measures can be taken, it makes the most sense.

I would like to thank our previous federal government and my colleagues from across the floor for taking measures to reduce the use of inefficient incandescent bulbs and helping Canadians embrace energy-efficient, compact fluorescent light bulbs and other lamp technology.

As with an ecosystem, even one small positive change often acts as a catalyst, setting off a chain reaction. For commercial purposes, fluorescent lamps have been popular for some time. However, CFL bulbs, as I mentioned, have gained in popularity since legislative changes to bulb efficiency standards were announced.

In 2014, a Statistics Canada report showed that three-quarters of total households reported using compact fluorescent lights. With so many Canadians using efficient compact fluorescent bulbs, we must ensure their safe disposal.

We warn consumers to step out of the room if a mercury bearing bulb breaks, but we do very little when Canadians dump these bulbs into our landfills every day.

Mercury is dangerous and toxic.

We are talking about an element that causes severe health problems, birth defects, and even death.

Commercial fluorescent bulbs alone contain 22 milligrams of mercury. Sources state that it takes only 0.5 milligrams of mercury to pollute 180 tonnes of water. One small CFL light bulb contains between 0.17 milligrams and 3.6 milligrams of mercury. It might not sound like a lot, but with more than three-quarters of Canadians using these bulbs, it really adds up.

The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment reported that waste lamps, whether broken or intact, contribute about 1,150 kilograms of mercury to landfills in Canada each year. That is 1,150 kilograms of mercury with the potential to poison our water and lands.

Mercury has the ability to undergo long range transport. That means that mercury deposited into a Halifax landfill could theoretically redeposit somewhere in northern Canada.

It is our responsibility to show real environmental leadership and protect Canadians whenever we can. We must take responsibility and protect future generations from this needless pollution. We can no longer pass the buck. We must work together and act now.

Solutions to this problem already exist.

As I mentioned, my private member's bill was inspired by an amazing and innovative facility in my riding of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour. It recycles every bit of a fluorescent lamp. These bulbs are made of glass, mercury, lead oxide, and phosphorous powder. This facility separates and reuses the glass in the production of new bulbs. The metal is melted down and reused by metal recycling facilities. It even processes and recycles the phosphorus powder that contains the toxic mercury.

Facilities like this exist across Canada. The member for Edmonton Strathcona has a facility in her riding that recycles these toxic mercury-bearing bulbs, as do the ridings of Brantford—Brant, Cambridge, Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle, and Delta. These companies are focusing on a green economy, on clean technology. It is what we as a government have been talking about for the past six months. Investing in clean tech makes sense. Just look at these entrepreneurial ventures that have the ability to take this issue and turn it into something positive. We must encourage those with environmental and entrepreneurial spirit, like those who have established the facilities I have mentioned. My bill complements investment into the green economy. Bill C-238 has the potential to help grow this industry. We all know that when industry grows, so does the number of jobs.

Canadians are investing millions of dollars in the municipal landfills across the country. Whenever possible, we must divert recyclables from landfills. It makes dollars and it makes sense. These particular recyclables may be dangerous, but they are valuable when correct measures are taken. Light bulb recycling facilities, like the one in my riding of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, employ Canadians while providing a valuable environmental service. That is what we mean by a “clean economy”.

As I mentioned, solutions to this problem exist. Many provinces may lack CFL end-of-life strategies, but others are showing true environmental leadership. The Province of British Columbia is a fine example of leading the way and showing that successful models do exist. Notably, British Columbia's LightRecycle outreach program has diverted over 12.5 million lighting products from B.C. landfills since 2010. Its statistics are outstanding and extremely encouraging. This model gives us a hint of what we can achieve across the country. With a national strategy, we are merely currently scratching the surface. In 2010, only around 10% of British Columbia's mercury lighting was safely disposed of through this program. However, in 2013, that number skyrocketed to 74%.

I am not here to tell the provinces and territories what to do and how to do it. Although this particular program and model is encouraging, it is important to note that Bill C-238 does not put demands on the provincial and territorial governments. Bill C-238 is the first step in ensuring that mercury-bearing light bulbs are diverted from our landfills.

Bill C-238 calls for a conversation. It is about creating a dialogue and encouraging our provincial and territorial governments to collaborate from coast to coast to coast.

Canada is transitioning towards a green economy, and I believe Bill C-238 complements our government's firm belief that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand.

A problem like mercury in landfills from consumer waste takes real environmental leadership to solve. I believe a robust national strategy, with positive collaboration between our federal government and our provinces and territories, can ensure the safe disposal of mercury-bearing lamps. It is time to expect our provinces, municipalities, cities, and towns to make bold moves in the right direction.

We need to work together.

We need to work together with consistency across our country to protect Canadians from mercury.

I strongly believe that a national strategy for the safe disposal of mercury-bearing lamps is a bright idea and provides strong environmental leadership to protect our waterways and our land. This is a government that cares about the environment, but, more so, Canada is a country that deeply cares about the world we leave for future generations.

Together we can encourage our federal government to create an open dialogue with our provinces and territories to develop a strong national strategy for the safe disposal of mercury-bearing lamps. This is about fostering a discussion. As such, I look forward to continued feedback from members of the House.

I encourage all of my colleagues in this House to support Bill C-238. Why? Because we are all in this together. Every single one of our ridings across Canada is affected by this problem. With Bill C-238's federal environmental leadership, we can work together to leave this world a better place for future generations.

National Strategy for Safe Disposal of Lamps Containing Mercury ActRoutine Proceedings

February 25th, 2016 / 10:15 a.m.
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Liberal

Darren Fisher Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-238, an act respecting the development of a national strategy for the safe disposal of lamps containing mercury.

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to introduce my private member's bill, an act respecting the development of a national strategy for the safe disposal of lamps containing mercury. I would like to thank the hon. member for Central Nova for being my seconder.

In my riding of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, we have a one of a kind facility called Dan-X Recycling. Dan-X is a company that completely breaks down and recycles spent mercury-bearing light bulbs, creating value and reducing dangerous waste in our landfills. I am proud to have such a facility in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour recycling these light bulbs every day.

We tell consumers to step out of the room if they break if they break a CFL light bulb, to worry about mercury vapour in the air, but we do not protect our land and our waterways from toxic mercury by ensuring the safe disposal of these bulbs.

I believe that with a national strategy we can provide real, environmental leadership and protect our waterways, our lands, and our future. I hope the bill will receive support from all members of this House.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)