Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I would like to thank the committee, first of all, for the opportunity to participate in the review at this early stage. We hope we can be helpful to you in figuring out what issues you should focus on.
Today you'll hear from me, representing the Chemical Producers' Association; Justyna Laurie-Lean, representing the Mining Association; and Shannon Coombs, representing the formulated products industry. This will give you some perspective of industry views on CEPA and the review process, but there are a number of other groups you may want to hear from later and who will probably want to talk to you. The steel producers wanted to be here today, but that didn't work out.
I'll be talking to you about issues that CCPA raised in a brief that we sent in on November 25, just prior to the election, when the predecessor to this committee set up a scoping committee to look at the same issue you're looking at now. CCPA will also be sending in an additional brief with more points, some of which I'll cover today. You'll be getting that shortly—hopefully within the next week or so.
Justyna Laurie-Lean will be commenting on some key issues for the Mining Association. She'll also be touching on the breadth and scope of CEPA, which is a critical issue to look at in the review. Shannon Coombs will be looking at issues that are key for the formulated products industry.
From CCPA's perspective, we want CEPA to support our members' continuous improvement in environmental health and performance. That improvement is primarily driven by responsible care, which I hope all of you have heard something of, and which I'll speak a little bit about in a minute, but we also need supportive, effective legislation.
But first, let me just touch on responsible care. This is a set of initiatives started here in Canada by the Canadian Chemical Producers' Association in the 1980s to meet public concerns about chemicals and their impact. We feel it's been very successful; it has spread to 52 countries around the world and has been recognized in a number of international statements. I think it is something that we in Canada can be quite proud of.
In Canada, responsible care means that our 65 member companies operating across Canada make safeguarding employees, the environment, and their neighbours a primary concern. I think an example of the success of responsible care is the charts that I provided to the committee, which I think you have before you. These are an extract from our Reducing Emissions report, which we publish annually. I've got our website on there, too, if you want more information.
As a sample, these charts show the progress our members have made in reducing overall emissions of greenhouse gases and smog-producing volatile organic compounds and NOx. Overall, I think it's important to note that our emissions per unit of output are down 85% since 1992. So we're making more, and having less emission, which is what we think is the key to sustainable development.
We think we have a good track record and we've made efforts to try to demonstrate the good and the bad of that track record through this Reducing Emissions report, but we do want to do better and we know that we can and must do better. And we're looking for legislation that will be effective and supportive of our efforts in that direction.
In the brief we sent to the previous committee last November, and which I'll now talk to very briefly, we raised seven issues that we hope will be addressed by this committee in its review of CEPA. I'd just like to touch on these issues.
First of all, we think that the review should be focused on the very few problems that have been identified with the very little experience with the act so far. We feel a major rewrite at this time would be premature, given the limited experience we have with CEPA 1999, and that it could actually hinder environmental performance by causing disruption and confusion at this time.
As an example of this, I'd like to talk of the DSL categorization and screening activity that CEPA 1999 required. This has been a massive effort so far by government and stakeholders, which has gone on for six years. We in Canada have invested heavily in this world-leading projects. Categorization is the first stage, and it's going to be completed this September.
CEPA also requires a second stage—screening risk assessments—to follow up on categorization and to use the information from categorization. We urge the committee to see value in bringing both of these to completion, the categorization and the screening assessments, and not to change course midstream on this important initiative.
Our second point concerns the decision of the prior government to look at using part 5, the toxic substances part of CEPA, to manage climate change. In our view, other parts of CEPA could be used outside of part 5, such as the international air pollution provisions, or possibly the clean air initiative announced by the new government.
We see greenhouse gases as a staple of life, and we just don't think it's appropriate for them to be regulated as toxics under part 5.
Furthermore, we think the term “toxic” generally has caused a lot of stigma for products in a wide range of areas. There's a wide range of risk management options under CEPA, and to stigmatize all products that fall under these as toxic we think has led to a lot of confusion. We hope the committee will review that aspect of the act and look at removing the term “toxic” from it. Shannon will be talking about that in some detail.
There is a fourth point we would like to raise, which is very narrow, perhaps, and technical, but we think it's important. CEPA requires establishing so-called limits of quantification for the substances that are subject to virtual elimination. This requirement applies even when we think it should be unnecessary--for example, when those substances are only there as irrelevant trace contaminants in a product. We believe having government, industry, and environmental groups spend the resources on figuring out and looking at the issues around what the limit of quantification should be in those cases is unwarranted. Setting those limits should be left to situations where they are needed.
A similar problem arose in the same context when the international Stockholm Convention was negotiated. It looked at persistent organic pollutants, which is a similar group to what would be subject to virtual elimination in Canada. They adopted a solution that was accepted globally and that we hope will be looked at in this review and incorporated in CEPA.
A fifth point that we'd like to see the committee look at is the administrative duties in the act. We think these need to be strengthened so that Environment Canada and Health Canada actually stick to the rules and what they're supposed to do. For example--and we'll talk about this in more detail in the next submission we send to you--there are user fees for new substance notification regulations that we feel are completely inconsistent with the User Fees Act, yet we can't get Environment Canada to move on that. We'd like to see that issue addressed in the review.
As the sixth point, we think Canadians need better information on health and environmental issues in the country. This is necessary to make the decisions that have to be made as we move forward. We believe the act should require state of the environment and state of health reporting. This will require additional resources for the department. One area in particular that we would recommend is that Health Canada get resources for bio-monitoring, population surveillance work, and the communication of those results.
The last point, which we raised in the brief we sent to you in November, is that the timeline for the CEPA review probably should be lengthened, perhaps to ten years. We just don't think that the five-year timeline that is currently in operation makes sense. There just isn't enough experience from the last review to be able to have a sound review this early.
Since we sent you the brief in November, an additional issue has arisen that we would like to look at, and that's the government's commitment to improve Canada's air quality, which CCPA absolutely supports. As we see it, this could be done under a clean air act or possibly under CEPA, outside of the part 5 toxics provisions. CCPA could support either approach. Maybe the most straightforward way would be to use CEPA, although some amendments may be required. Maybe it would be better to have a clean air act. We want to make sure the committee looks at this issue; in particular, we want to make sure there's no legislative overlap that results, because we believe that would be a problem.
Also, I think a clean air act will require working more closely with the provinces in a wide range of areas. We believe the committee should consider whether the equivalency provisions that currently exist in CEPA will hinder that work. We particularly welcome questions on that issue.
Those points are all covered in the note before you.
One last thing I'd like to raise, and it follows up on the presentation that Environment Canada gave on Monday, is that we believe you should look at the new substance regulation provisions--provisions similar to what Australia has--and the ability in the legislation to recognize assessments of other jurisdictions. We think that's an approach that recognizes the need for international cooperation and work-sharing in the assessment area, and we think adding that flexibility to CEPA would be a good idea
Those are CCPA's recommendations for what we think the committee should be looking at in its review. I'd be pleased to answer questions. As I said, we'll be providing an additional detailed brief in a few weeks.
I'd now like to turn to my colleague Justyna Laurie-Lean, who will talk about some of the issues for the mining sector.