Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I want to thank you for this opportunity to speak to you today about DuPont's perspectives on the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
My name is Judith McKay, and I'm the chief administrative officer for DuPont Canada.
My purpose today is to propose improvements to the new substances notification process of CEPA based on our experiences with the act.
I believe you all have a copy of the slide presentation. Feel free to refer to the slides as I make my remarks.
While DuPont has operated for more than 200 years, I'd like to tell you a little bit about our company today. DuPont's vision, you'll see on the first slide, is to be the world's most dynamic science company. We work to create sustainable solutions essential to a better, safer, and healthier life for people everywhere.
Two weeks ago we announced our company's 2015 sustainability goals, in which we laid out our strategy to continually reduce our environmental footprint but also increase investment in research and increase revenue from environmentally sound technology. It's good for the public and it's good for business.
The next slide gives you some background on DuPont Canada. I won't go into detail, but you can see that we're a very well-established company in this country.
On slide four, you'll see that the objectives DuPont has and those of the government are very similar. We certainly recognize that the government should have a very strong role in protecting the environment and health. We support that role and respect it.
I'd like to now focus on our experiences with CEPA, with emphasis on a specific situation that we're experiencing involving the new substances notification program. Generally, let me say that the NSN program is adequate for routine situations, but in our situation, if we could look at it here as a case study, it concerns a substance assessment that has international implications, and where similar substances are already in commerce.
On slide five, you'll see that we've set out a chart to present our perspectives about the new substances notification program. The first column includes our expectations based on our understanding of the act. The middle column covers some of our experiences. Lastly, the far right column provides our recommendations for change.
Our first perspective deals with our expectation that the assessment process would be transparent and rigorous. Unfortunately, our experience showed that the process for new substances needs to be more transparent. For example, assessment reports are almost never shared with the notifiers. In our case, we were only able to get a copy of the report after persuading government officials to provide it to us. Furthermore, we had no opportunity to provide input to the report or address any deficiencies or inaccuracies.
The degree of rigour being employed in the assessments, in our view, was not adequate. Some data was chosen while other data was not, and the government didn't always provide a reason. We believe that the government should take all relevant peer-reviewed information into account throughout its assessment process and in its report.
It is our recommendation that assessment procedures and protocols be clearly defined and publicly available based on the guidance provided by the government's own frameworks. We're also recommending that notifiers, such as DuPont, should be provided with draft assessment reports. This would be consistent with the earlier recommendations identified by a multi-stakeholder consultation on the new substances program held in 2000. Regrettably, these were never implemented.
Our next perspective deals with the framework that we expected would be adhered to by the government. Clearly, the government needs to follow its own policies on transparency.
On slide six, our third perspective, it was our expectation that the assessments would meet internationally recognized standards for quality, particularly in this case, which focused on a complex and contentious substance for which control measures could be applied.
In the assessment of existing chemicals, it is normal practice to conduct a peer review to validate decisions. Usually a peer review is not warranted for new substance assessments, as most are quite routine; however, if the assessment decision could have broad implications commercially and internationally, a peer review process is vital to building confidence in the assessment outcome.
Let me define what a peer review process is, because I think there's been some confusion about that. A peer review is an objective process carried out by an arm's-length party, a process in which internationally recognized experts in the field review and comment on the scientific assessment. While the government consultations with various stakeholders are worthwhile, it's important to note that they do not constitute a peer review.
Our fourth perspective has to do with the guidance that we expected would be provided to companies such as DuPont, which submits new substance notifications that end up following a non-routine path. More procedural guidance is needed. For instance, contradictory guidance has been provided to DuPont in the past regarding whether a new substance notification may be withdrawn after it is submitted. Clarity is required when so much is at stake.
Our fifth perspective, at the top of slide seven, deals with the government's risk-management tools. Clearly, it was our expectation that these tools would achieve protection of the environment and human health. It has been our experience, however, that the use of these tools does not always result in the selection of the most effective and appropriate approach to protect the environment and human health. In our case study, the most draconian risk management tool, namely prohibition, was deemed appropriate, when in fact conditions would have been less onerous and more effective in protecting the environment and health.
It is our recommendation that the government adopt risk management tools that are proportionate to the manner and level of risk presented by a substance.
Our final expectation was that there would be an early formal mechanism within CEPA to appeal assessment decisions involving new substances; this was not the case, which is a major shortcoming. The first opportunity to formally protest the decision in our case study was the option to file a notice of objection, which came after the decision for regulation had already been made. At this late point the notifier is only able to file the notice of objection, and there is no apparent obligation that the government must act on the notice.
It is our recommendation that for complex cases the government should provide an appeal mechanism as a right, and at a much earlier stage in the process. Interestingly, this recommendation was already made during the multi-stakeholder consultations on the new substances program, although it has yet to be implemented. We believe that implementing this recommendation would promote an earlier review and resolution of the issues.
The last slide is a summary of our recommendations. The three I would view as most important are peer review, risk management procedures that are proportionate to the actual risk, and formalizing an early appeal mechanism.
I am confident that with Health Canada, Environment Canada, and DuPont working together, we will be able to resolve our particular case study appropriately. As we go forward, the proposed changes will improve future situations and enhance Canada's reputation globally.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, this concludes my presentation.
I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today about our perspectives on CEPA and the new substances notification process.
I hope that my remarks reflect DuPont's longstanding commitment to the environment, human health, and sustainable development, as well as our willingness to work collaboratively with government and other stakeholders to achieve this objective.