Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to speak to Bill S-2. This is an important bill and it does have consensus among industry and labour organizations. Bill S-2 would update the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act. It would provide an opportunity for chemicals and their contents to be registered in a much more appropriate fashion. Some of the problems we have right now would be corrected by Bill S-2, such as updating current data sheets. Ninety-five per cent of the current data sheets have not been updated.
It is important to note that this debate on Bill S-2 is about prevention. It is about controlling the appropriate regulations documenting chemicals and their contents and their effect upon human health.
I was privileged to be in the House when the member for Winnipeg Centre gave his speech. I listened to his great remarks relating to the asbestos industry and the issues that he has been dealing with in his attempt to raise attention to the problems with asbestos. Prevention is very much a part of the solution to many of our problems. The fact that we could head off some of the problems in terms of spills or chemical use in a general sense and the rights of workers is very important.
I would like to congratulate the labour community for its dogged determination to ensure that the law is updated. This community does not just work for itself, but it works for all workers across this country. It ensures that standards are met and that workers who are not represented know about the chemicals they are working with and how those chemicals will affect them and their co-workers. This is an important point to note because these chemicals do have an effect on all of us.
My previous occupation was that of a job developer for persons with disabilities. I worked at Community Living Mississauga and I worked at the Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities. I also worked at the Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County as a job developer and an employment specialist.
WHMIS training and data sheets are very important, not only in terms of the content descriptions labelled on the sheets and on the products, but also the visual pictures. I have had the privilege of working on behalf of individuals with learning disabilities or literacy problems. These individuals did not have the ability to understand some of the terminology on the data sheets but they did understand some of the visuals. It is important for people with disabilities to understand chemical labelling because chemicals do affect their health.
I have a passion for eliminating the unnecessary chemicals and taking remedial action to deal with their effect on humans. The simplest thing to do is to have appropriate training in place so accidents can be prevented. Data information sheets are important, not just in terms of understanding the use of a chemical, but whether that chemical is being used in a way that it is not supposed to be used. If there has been a leak or if there has been a spill, it is important that there be an immediate response by employees and management to contain the situation.
On behalf of the people with disabilities, we were able to use a number of different techniques to associate the labelling with necessary action and they were also able to understand how to handle the chemicals properly.
The reason chemicals need to be identified and appropriately marked is that one chemical by itself may not have a severe consequence if it is spilled, but if that chemical is mixed with another chemical it could create a toxic cocktail so to speak that could cause greater damage. It is important for an individual to know how a chemical is being used and how to dispose of that chemical. It could create a huge health problem if these chemicals are disposed of through our sewer systems or our ordinary plumbing systems. This could have a causal effect on our water systems. Windsor and the surrounding area has had to fight some of the environmental problems. It is amazing to think how far we have come.
It was an NDP amendment that actually ceased the elimination of corporate tax deductions for polluting our Great Lakes system and our environment.