Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in favour of this motion.
The motion before us gives me the opportunity to highlight that the government has made great investments in protecting the health and safety of Canadians. Since 2006, we have made major investments in the chemicals management plan, an approach that has made Canada a global leader in the assessment and management of the environmental and health effects of chemicals.
Most recently, in 2011, the government announced renewed funding of $506 million for the chemicals management plan. I think I should reiterate that, because the opposition keeps saying that we are not investing anything in environmental issues. Again, that is $506 million for the chemicals management plan. This investment supports the ongoing review of the 4,300 industrial chemicals identified as priorities for assessment.
Before I go any further, I would like to mention that I will be splitting my time with the member for Mississauga South.
We expect to complete this review, that is to say, we expect to have considered the potential health risks or environmental effects of all 4,300 substances by 2020. That is consistent with Canada's commitments in global chemicals management. This plan has been recognized by non-governmental organizations, industrial associations, and international partners as reasonable, balanced, and above all, successful.
Under the chemicals management plan, we are addressing such high-profile substances as BPA and phthalates. Furthermore, in 2007, the government announced the food and consumer safety action plan, which has likewise made Canada a recognized leader in the identification and management of human health risks from products like the food, cosmetics, and consumer products we all use every day.
Our focus is on ensuring that industry takes seriously its responsibilities to actively prevent dangers to human health and safety, on providing for targeted oversight of the marketplace to help us identify emerging health risks early, and on equipping the government to respond quickly when risks are identified.
Under these programs, we have continued to build Canada's cosmetic regulatory system into one of the most stringent and effective systems anywhere in the world. The chemicals management plan has led to the addition of 26 substances to the cosmetic ingredient hot list, which is a list of substances that are prohibited or regulated in cosmetics. The chemicals management plan has also resulted in two existing hot list items being amended to be even more protective of the health of Canadians.
I should add that the hot list is a science-based document that is reviewed and updated as new scientific data becomes available. The hot list serves to keep the cosmetics industry aware of new substances Health Canada considers inappropriate for cosmetic use or that require hazardous labelling.
While Environment Canada is the department charged with understanding and managing the effects chemicals may have on the environment in Canada, Health Canada is the department that evaluates human health impacts. To figure out whether a chemical can have negative effects on the user's health when it is used in a cosmetic, the department carefully considers both the science concerning the potential health effects of the chemical and the ways in which a person may be exposed. For most cosmetics, the main source of exposure is usually through the skin.
Health Canada scientists are constantly reviewing the emerging science and international regulatory actions. At this point, the department does not believe that there is evidence indicating that the kind of plastics used to make microbeads are harmful to human health as they are currently used in cosmetics.
Health Canada will continue to monitor this emerging issue, and certainly if a risk to human health is identified, the department will take action to address it.
Everyone who sells cosmetics in Canada is required to notify Health Canada of each cosmetic sold in the country within 10 days of the first sale. This notification must include details concerning the ingredients. The department must use that information to help to verify that cosmetics sold in Canada meet all of the legislative and regulatory requirements set out in the hot list and the cosmetic regulations.
On top of that, the cosmetic regulations also require manufacturers or importers to disclose all ingredients on the label. People looking to avoid plastic microbeads could check the labels of products that have beads or grit, such as exfoliating scrubs or face and body washes, and then avoid those that contain polyethylene or polypropylene, or any of their ingredients.
While these substances are not always used in microbead form, they are the substances most often used to make microbeads. These substances also have other known uses in cosmetics, including as binding and bulking agents, stabilizers, film formers and skin conditioning agents. If they are in the product, they have to be on the label.
Furthermore, many cosmetic companies have already voluntarily eliminated the use of microbeads in their products or they have already announced that they will be phasing them out of their product lines. With that, I would like to add that I was searching this morning and recognized that Crest, one of the major toothpaste producers, will be eliminating microbeads from its products in 2016. That is one way to recognize that companies themselves are eliminating an ingredient without regulatory requirement.
The requirements that apply to cosmetics provide a high level of safety for Canadian consumers and allows consumers to make informed decisions about the products that they purchase.
Our government, as members can see from my speech, has done a lot to ensure that we put the safety of Canadians first and foremost.