Good morning. Thank you, Madam Chair, and members of the committee for the opportunity to appear today. As mentioned, my name is Bob Masterson. I am president and CEO of the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada, also known as CIAC. I am joined today by CIAC's vice-president, public affairs, Pierre Gauthier.
Our organization, CIAC, is the voice of Canada's chemistry industry. That's a $54-billion a year industry in Canada. We're the fourth-largest manufacturing sector and the second-largest manufacturing exporter. Our members take Canada's natural resources—renewable and non-renewable—and create products that provide solutions to Canada and the world's pressing problems of clean air, clean water, clean energy, and safe, nutritious, and abundant food.
Many of you won't know, but for more than 30 years Canada's chemistry sector has been at the forefront of the journey towards responsible and sustainable chemical manufacturing. In 1985, we founded Responsible Care, and that's now practised in 62 countries worldwide.
Through Responsible Care, we've delivered real results. We've worked very hard and we have reduced emissions of toxic substances, those on CEPA, schedule 1, by more than 90% since 1992. We've also reduced absolute greenhouse gas emissions from our operations by more than two-thirds through product and process re-engineering.
From the earliest days, our industry and our association have been and remain full and productive partners in the development and delivery of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, and the accompanying chemicals management plan.
I hope to have the opportunity to return at later dates to speak on some of the other aspects of the committee's work, but today I am going to focus my remarks solely on your review of Canada's approach to the chemicals management plan. The timely action to reduce risks from toxic substances is important for the health of Canadians and our environment. By providing such action, the government and industry can also improve Canadians' confidence in the broad array of chemicals that play very important roles in our everyday lives. We are here to tell you today one key message. The chemicals management plan has been and remains on course to be a stunning public policy success.
We see three factors that have contributed to the success of the chemicals management plan.
Number one, appropriate resources have been allocated. The plan has been implemented according to the plan, and with external expert advice from some of the people in the room with you today.
Number two, we believe it's a model use of public and private resources to create effective public policy.
Number three, we also note that it fully integrates, under many processes, multi-stakeholder, multi-jurisdictional, and multi-departmental actions to manage toxic substances in Canada.
It is our strongly held view that the CMP is achieving its objectives and it's on track to success. It originated from the 1999 amendments to CEPA, which mandated the evaluation and appropriate risk management of over 23,000 substances on the domestic substances list. At the time, it was known that this would require years of work and sustained resources and attention by government, industry, and other stakeholders.
By 2006, Canada completed the first important phase of that work, categorizing the more than 23,000 substances on that list. That was no small feat, and Canada was the first country in the world to complete that exercise. That categorization exercise was especially important because it then allowed government, industry, and other stakeholder groups to focus priority, attention, and resources on the scientific assessment and appropriate risk management of the 4,300 priority substances that were categorized as both being present in the economy and that might hold potential for harm to human health and the environment. We quickly went from 23,000 to 4,300.
To date, more than 2,700 of those 4,300 priority substances have been assessed under the chemicals management plan, with less than 2% of those being identified as toxic and requiring further management action. That says something about the confidence that Canadians should have in chemicals. We went from a universe of 23,000, we're down to 4,300, and fewer than 2% are being seen to merit further risk management action.
There is a ways to go. It's clear, though, that if we stay committed to this path, we'll complete the task of completing the risk assessments and appropriate risk management of those 4,300 priority substances within sight of the original 2020 goal.
Again, it has to be stressed, this is a singularly impressive example of effective public policy. The CMP is efficient and effective in its use of both public and private resources because it takes that risk management approach to evaluating and managing the risks of chemical substances.
The program also effectively leverages available data and existing classification frameworks already in use across industry and agreed upon by regulators. It integrates decisions, scientific studies, and data from other jurisdictions, including Europe. All the while, the program allows for the incorporation of significant new information to ensure the prioritization decisions remain current.
Often, and I'm sure you're part of this group, there can be skepticism when industry or an industry association states that it favours a certain public policy. Don't take my word for it; allow me to quote from my colleagues at Environmental Defence in their 2012 report card. We worked very closely on chemicals management issues from different perspectives.
The Environmental Defence 2012 report said:
The CMP has been an important and valuable program. The Challenge [to industry] in particular, has resulted in timely, systematic chemical assessments and frequent, world precedent-setting risk management decisions. This is no small feat considering the number of substance assessments and the limited timeframe for such [action].
In their report, Environmental Defence went on to give the CMP an A-plus rating for timeliness and a second A-plus rating for risk management actions taken to date. When environmental NGOs and industry can say A-plus twice, you have to believe that you have a winner of a public policy.
I can tell you that the greatest success of the chemicals management plan to date is exactly what the mandate of this group is looking at: the incorporation of recommendations in relation to other federal legislation and regulations pertaining to protection of human health and the environment for toxic substances.
Once the CMP has identified a risk to the health of Canadians or to the environment from a particular substance, there is an array of legislative and regulatory tools to meet the goals of managing that risk. These include the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, the Food and Drugs Act, the Pest Control Products Act, and others. That “best placed act” policy is something we celebrate. It shows that safeguarding the health of Canadians and the environment is not necessarily something that has to be accomplished solely through CEPA.
The CMP also works because it has been appropriately funded and supported by government. There has been robust financial support to allow the program to do what it was intended to do and to remain credible in the eyes of the public.
As part of our 2015 budget consultations, Environmental Defence and CIAC co-recommend that the federal government continue to provide supporting funding for the CMP. How often does it happen that an environmental non-governmental organization and an industry association write together to the finance minister of the day to co-recommend?— We were pleased that this recommendation was accepted and that funding for the CMP was renewed for a further five years.
We think Canada should be very proud of its chemicals management regime. In fact, whenever we can, we talk about it to other countries as a model they should emulate. We know that in the past few years the CMP has been very well examined by U.S. academics and authorities. Our approach to prioritization is the cornerstone of the bills that are currently before committee for reconciliation in the U.S. Congress as they proceed to make changes to their Toxic Substances Control Act.
Similarly, the Government of Brazil came here last year on a mission to see Environment Canada and us. They're looking very closely at the CMP as a model for how they manage chemicals in their country, and that has generated interest in Argentina, Chile, Peru, and other countries in the Americas. This is something that we as Canadians in government, industry, and civil society organizations should all be proud of.
I mentioned a third thing. The CMP also works because it incorporates the views of all stakeholders. There is broad support of other levels of government in Canada. As a result we don't see a checkerboard of competing rules and regulations across our country. The same can't be said of the United States. There, multiple actions by a multitude of individual states provide a lot of potential to confuse consumers and disrupt normal patterns of commerce.
The CMP explicitly incorporates multiple opportunities for public review and comment to ensure that the best available data and information is used in toxicity designations. In cases in which a toxicity designation was not found, the act even contains mandatory review when individuals object. In fact, embedded throughout the CMP process is overt consultation with stakeholders before, during, and after an assessment has been performed. There are ample opportunities to participate and to provide data and information to stakeholders.
In addition, there are two very formal and important bodies that provide ongoing advice to the government in the implementation of the CMP: there is a science committee and a stakeholder advisory council. Each of those in turn is made up of independent experts from various fields. It's our belief that those processes are functioning very well and that their advice and recommendations are being considered and responded to by the Government of Canada.
As a Responsible Care organization, we believe in continuous improvement. We will have several recommendations that we will submit to the committee at a later date. Today we just want to leave you with one clear message and recommendation: let's complete this job. Let's ensure that the remaining chemicals are assessed and appropriately managed by the 2020 deadline. The progress that has been made has been thanks to sustained government, industry, and NGO commitment, to good planning and management, and to the allocation of sufficient budgetary resources commensurate with the scope, challenge, and importance of the work.
We urge this committee to recommend continued funding and program delivery until the job is done.
Please ensure that this government continues to support and implement Canada's chemicals management plan as intended.
Thank you very much. I look forward to your questions.