Mr. Speaker, Canadians are committed to a clean environment in its many dimensions, knowing that a clean environment is one determinant of good health of the citizenry. That is why Canadians want strong and effective environmental laws to ensure a clean environment for Canada. That is why on March 12 the Minister of the Environment introduced Bill C-32 to renew the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The bill represents a shift from expensive efforts to try to clean up pollution after the fact to preventing it from occurring in the first place.
In the bill all substances used in Canada will be screened for their effects on the environment and therefore human health. Strict deadlines for action will be in place. The government is committed to putting the most dangerous toxic substances on the path to virtual elimination. One of the innovative features of this bill is the authority to require pollution prevention plans for toxic substances, a first for Canada.
Pollution prevention is good for both environment and business. Companies that have voluntarily adopted a pollution prevention approach have found it improves the bottom line. At the same time, sound enforcement of the law is essential to creating a level playing field that supports environmental leaders while penalizing polluters.
The renewed act will improve enforcement by expanding inspector powers, including the authority to issue on the spot orders and ensuring that the financial and human resources needed are in place.
The new act is founded on the principle of partnership, not on devolution of federal powers to the provinces and territories but on close co-operative work with them. The federal government remains firmly committed to safeguarding the health of Canadians from the threat of pollution by strengthening environmental protection in Canada.