I want to thank all three of the witnesses. I appreciate your making yourselves available.
I think I only have time for questions for Dr. Boyd, but I do have a request for Mr. Butler. I really appreciated your concerns about biotech and particularly with aquaculture. When I just quickly look at the act, it looks like the definition of disposal is awfully narrow, so I would certainly welcome—and I'm sure the rest of the committee would—any recommendations you would have for changing that part of the legislation to address your concerns.
I'm sorry to pass the work to you, but I appreciate any input you can provide. Perhaps you could confer with other people on the west coast as well.
Dr. Boyd, thank you very much. I really appreciate your long list. I look forward to getting the details. As probably the only member of the committee who actually was involved in the negotiation of the first act, I'm really discouraged that there are parts of the act that we still haven't improved.
I would appreciate some feedback from you, and possibly from Mr. Butler as well, on any recommendations you have on part 9, which is about the federal and aboriginal lands. It's a huge gap in the law because there are areas, including on Indian reserves, where there are essentially no pollution control laws. It's a bit stunning that for fenced lands, parks, and aboriginal lands, there's a big gap because the provincial laws don't apply. If you could talk to your colleagues, I would welcome any ideas. We've just never improved that part of the legislation.
Dr. Boyd, I would like to ask you questions in two areas.
One is under part 3, where both the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and the Minister of Health have obligations of mandatory duties for monitoring.
Interestingly, there are two provisions: sections 45 and 55. Under section 45, the health minister actually has a mandatory duty to conduct research and studies when any of the toxins may cause impacts to health. There are a lot of first nations, including in northern Alberta, who have been putting in a request for the last 20 years for the federal government to initiate a health study. I'm surprised that the minister has not stepped up to the plate and delivered on that, and I'm wondering if you've pursued that.
I'm going to give you a lot of questions, and then you might want to combine it together, because I only have six minutes.
I've actually requested that we get in some leading scientists to talk about cumulative impact. Under the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, I think that there's an area where the federal government is really dropping the ball. Even though that's a mandatory duty, we don't seem to have had major federal engagement in cumulative impact.
I'm pleased that you're concerned about health. My final comment is that specifically, when we did the review of emissions from coal-fired power and gas and so forth in Alberta, the team actually agreed to my recommendation that we include a “hot spots” protocol, which the Government of Alberta, to its credit, has implemented. That requires that when you have a concentrated industry—it may be fracking, oil sands, or coal-fired power—there are triggers for a concerned community to request reviews. An example would be if there is new science that suggests further review of these emissions and if there's a poor compliance record.
I welcome any of your feedback on that area of health and a response to those questions regarding the various duties of the minister.
Thank you very much for all your proposals, and of course I welcome all your recommendations on enforcement and environmental rights. Thank you.