Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of this motion. I will let the House know that I will be sharing my time with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo.
It is a pleasure to provide the House with an update on the actions that our government has taken to protect the health of Canadian families and the environment from the risks posed by pollution and harmful substances. This is an issue that our government has championed since taking office in 2006. For that reason, I am pleased to provide a summary of a few of these activities.
First of all, as we know, chemicals used safely provide untold benefits for Canadians, supporting innovation across virtually every sector of the Canadian economy from medicine to manufacturing and from transportation to high technology. Our government has taken steps, including an investment of over $800 million to ensure that chemicals used in our homes, businesses, and public spaces are properly managed and that risks to Canadians are minimized, regardless of whether these chemicals are new to industry or have been used for decades.
Our government's chemicals management plan, initially announced by the Prime Minister in 2006, has set an ambitious agenda to ensure the safety of all chemicals used in Canada. This program has made Canada a world leader in assessing and regulating chemicals used in industrial and consumer products. This work has a direct impact on the health of all Canadians and the environment in which we live.
In 2006, our government invested $300 million for Environment Canada and Health Canada to take rapid action on chemicals, using a transparent, whole-of-government approach to ensure that all potential sources of exposure were investigated, whether they be through air, water, food products, or any other source. This funding was renewed in budget 2011, when our government invested a further $506 million over five years to ensure that this work would continue at full speed.
In addition to providing Canadians with greater security in the health of the environment, the direction our government has taken is important to the chemicals industry, with which we have also worked very closely. The science-based decisions taken under the chemicals management plan provide businesses with investment certainty and stability, and promote research and development into new processes and safer alternatives to those that have been identified as being of concern.
We have taken major strides under the chemicals management plan to address chemicals identified as having potential risks to human health or the environment. We have worked through the assessment of more than 2,700 substances in commerce to date. They are substances that have been in use in Canada for many years without ever having been evaluated by the government for their safety. We have set for ourselves the goal of completing the evaluation of approximately 4,300 substances by 2020.
At the same time, under the chemicals management plan, the government has screened more than 3,000 substances new to Canada prior to their entry into the Canadian market. We have applied any necessary conditions or other measures to ensure that any of these new chemicals are used safely when they reach our borders. For any substance found to pose a risk, our government uses a suite of tools and legislation to ensure that they are not used in ways that could lead to harm to Canadians or their environment. To date, we have taken action on more than 60 chemicals or groups of chemicals that have been scientifically shown to be harmful to the environment or human health. We have also published more than 60 risk management measures that are customized based on a number of factors, such as where releases occur and populations that are identified as being most at risk.
The chemicals management plan is also an adaptive program able to react to new priorities, such as microbeads in the environment. Microplastics are increasingly found in the environment and take on a number of forms, including manufactured microbeads used for a variety of applications and the natural breakdown of plastic debris in the environment.
Through the chemicals management plan, the impacts of microplastics, including microbeads, on ecosystems are being investigated, and our government is closely following new developments on microplastics as they become available. We will continue to raise this issue with our counterparts in the United States and Ontario under the Great Lakes agenda, as well as with our counterparts who actively participate in the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. Our government's chemical management plan will also prioritize microbeads for assessment.
The government is also working internationally by actively participating in discussions on the prevention of marine plastic pollution, notably through the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the United Nations. Domestically, we continue to work with industry to promote sound stewardship of potential pollutants. Several companies from the personal care and cosmetic sectors have already publicly committed to stop using synthetic microbeads. In addition, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association promotes Operation Clean Sweep in Canada, an international voluntary program to prevent plastic pellet losses in the environment.
Our country's thousands of lakes and rivers are a vital part of Canada's natural heritage and a legacy for future generations of Canadians, from supporting biodiversity and healthy aquatic ecosystems, to opening up countless possibilities for recreation, to sustaining our drinking water. For this reason, another key element in our government's commitment to ensuring a safe and clean environment is the measures we have taken to strengthen regulations for water protection. Since 2006, our government has committed $2.3 billion to waste water infrastructures, through various programs.
In addition to these investments, our government's waste water systems effluent regulations, developed with provinces, municipalities and other stakeholders, will help to protect Canada's water quality, ultimately improving ecosystem health.
The new standards will ensure untreated and undertreated sewage are not dumped into our country's waterways. The estimated benefits to Canadians and our economy include improved health of fish and aquatic systems and increasing safety for recreational activities that are part of our tourism industry.
For the waste water systems that do not meet the new standards, there will be time for municipalities to plan and budget funds to complete the upgrades.
I am sure all members would agree that our water is precious. These measures will help us address the largest source of pollution to our lakes and rivers, and in doing so we will help protect Canadians and their environment.
There is no question that protecting the health of Canadians and their environment is a key priority of our government. This priority is clearly reflected through measures such as those I have just described.
With respect to chemicals in the environment, this continues to be a key priority for our government to ensure that Canadians are fully protected and informed. I would urge all my hon. colleagues to support this motion.