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Evidence of meeting #35 for Health in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was commission.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Weldon Newton  President and Chief Executive Officer, Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission Canada
Sharon Watts  Vice-President, Corporate Services Branch and Adjudication, Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission Canada

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy NDP Surrey North, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to the presenters for the information.

I don't know if I should say it's unfortunate, but perhaps there might have been a way for that first exemption to have been worded in a way that any of us who are new would read it with suspicion. I appreciate your explanation that all the health information has to be provided, but it could have been clearer in its wording. That wouldn't have caused Ms. Kadis and I to leap to...if not a conclusion, then a question.

Would it not always be that? Could you not always justify economically that it was a trade secret? Surely, if you have a new product, it's a trade secret. Wouldn't it always come out to be?

4:10 p.m.

Vice-President, Corporate Services Branch and Adjudication, Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission Canada

Sharon Watts

Not necessarily.

What WHMIS wanted to do in the creation of the commission and our tests—so to speak—is to ensure that the product was indeed competitive. It was more than just “I have a product, and there are some things in here that I don't want to disclose”. There had to be a rational and economic reason to keep that information from workers, because WHMIS is all about the right to know. The right to know is part of that balance that we have to always be assuring ourselves we are keeping in check.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy NDP Surrey North, BC

Did you say keep the information from workers? I thought it would be to keep the information from other companies. That's what I would have thought would be the trade secret issue. Why would you want to keep the information from workers?

4:10 p.m.

Vice-President, Corporate Services Branch and Adjudication, Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission Canada

Sharon Watts

If something is being claimed as a trade secret, then that information is not being fully disclosed on the material safety data sheet in the workplace. Not only will the companies not see the information, but the workers who use the product will not know what that chemical identity is.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy NDP Surrey North, BC

I understand that. It would just seem odd that the goal would be, as you stated, to keep the information from workers. It seems a bit off.

Can you please tell me the union or labour people who—sorry, you must have a list—are on your council who signed on to the amendments? In case they land on my desk, with both feet I'd like to be able to say, “Hey, you guys or gals signed off.”

4:10 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission Canada

Weldon Newton

Yes.

Through the course of these amendments, we've had Dr. Dave Bennett and his colleagues sit on our council and work with us. He's with the CLC.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy NDP Surrey North, BC

They've signed off in writing, the CLC?

4:10 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission Canada

Weldon Newton

Yes, as recently as January 2007.

The one signing off was Mr. Bill Chedore, with the CLC. The other you may know--Larry Stoffman, from Vancouver.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy NDP Surrey North, BC

Yes, I do, actually.

4:10 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission Canada

Weldon Newton

I thought you might.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy NDP Surrey North, BC

Does it say Vancouver somewhere on here?

4:10 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission Canada

Weldon Newton

No. I read your bio.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy NDP Surrey North, BC

Okay, CLC has signed off with two people.

4:10 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission Canada

Weldon Newton

The point is that labour represents their constituents with a lot of dedication, and that's always been evident around the table. They would absolutely not accept any regulatory compromise that would in any way diminish the protection.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy NDP Surrey North, BC

No, I'm sure they would not.

4:10 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission Canada

Weldon Newton

That's right.

It's arguable that the resources we can save through economies and efficiencies and the trade secret--the economic side of the house--can be reinvested into our health and safety reviews and will hopefully permit us to be even more vigilant of workplace dangers and risks.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy NDP Surrey North, BC

Okay, thank you.

I have just one quick question, if I might. When people voluntarily correct their labels, do you monitor that? How do you know they do? If I say okay, I'll go change my label, is there some way to monitor that?

4:10 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission Canada

Weldon Newton

Well, as part of the order process, when we issue an order obliging the claimant to change their safety data sheets and labels, we ask that they be submitted to us. We then review that for compliance.

If they don't want to submit it to us, they either appeal or take it out of the market. We'll oblige them to do so. We have the mandate.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy NDP Surrey North, BC

I see. Thank you.

The chairperson is being very patient. I just want to repeat, then, that for amendment one, all the health and safety information around side effects, health effects, anything like that, is submitted to you regardless of exemption around trade secrets.

4:10 p.m.

Vice-President, Corporate Services Branch and Adjudication, Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission Canada

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy NDP Surrey North, BC

Thank you.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

Ms. Priddy, you shouldn't be surprised that people know about you, a household name in certain places in this country.

Ms. Brown.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Liberal Oakville, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you for the presentation.

I'm wondering, how much does this commission take to operate? What was your annual budget last year?

4:10 p.m.

Vice-President, Corporate Services Branch and Adjudication, Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission Canada

Sharon Watts

Our budget was $3.5 million.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Liberal Oakville, ON

That's $3.5 million, and what is the source of your revenue? Is it the government or is it the industry?