moved that Bill C-238, An Act respecting the development of a national strategy for the safe disposal of lamps containing mercury, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, I am proud and delighted to rise today to speak to Bill C-238, a national strategy for the safe disposal of lamps containing mercury act.
First I would like to thank my constituents of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour for having faith in me to effect real change and to make their voices heard in Ottawa. It is an honour to come here and work hard on their behalf to create a better environment for Canadians.
My private member's bill calls upon our Minister of Environment and Climate Change to open a dialogue and work with our provinces and territories to develop a robust national strategy ensuring that lamps containing mercury are safely disposed of.
We know that mercury is toxic.
However, Canadians are dumping toxic mercury into landfills daily.
I am thankful to the members who have seconded my bill, and I am truly honoured by the kind words I have received from members across the country. I am also encouraged by their feedback and their eagerness to protect Canada's environment.
I am touched that the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands approached me early on to jointly second the bill. I commend her environmental leadership and passion to work across party lines for the greater good. This is not about individuals; it is about protecting Canada as a whole. Canadians expect us to work together and find solutions together.
Private members' bills are often deeply personal. In 2012, I represented the Burnside Industrial Park in Dartmouth. Burnside is home to hundreds of innovative businesses and manufacturers, and it is the largest industrial park in eastern Canada. We have world leaders in solar technology. We have businesses contributing to shipbuilding. We even have research happening daily on the development of a Tesla battery.
It was during this period that I toured Dan-x Recycling. Dan-x is located in my riding of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour and is committed to ensuring that all mercury-bearing light bulbs are diverted from landfills and properly recycled. During my tour, I asked the normal questions that one would ask. I asked what the regulations are for end-of-life mercury light bulbs. I was shocked to hear that there were none. In light of the fact that there were no regulations, I began working within our municipality to, at the very least, divert the bulbs used in city-owned buildings. We had no enforcement measures to ensure that folks properly disposed of or recycled CFL bulbs. I was told that it had always been expected that with the introduction of CFL bulbs and the continued widespread commercial use of fluorescent bulbs that regulations would soon follow. This is the inspiration for Bill C-238.
The issue of keeping mercury out of our waterways and off our land matters to me as a parent. Like many folks, I want to leave this world a better place for our children and for future generations. That is why I immediately joined the municipal environment committee when I became a councillor for the Halifax Regional Municipality. It is why I am thrilled to now sit on the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development with our federal government.
It was Benjamin Franklin who said that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. It was true back then, and it is as true now. Remediation of land and water is costly, and when preventative measures can be taken, it makes the most sense.
I would like to thank our previous federal government and my colleagues from across the floor for taking measures to reduce the use of inefficient incandescent bulbs and helping Canadians embrace energy-efficient, compact fluorescent light bulbs and other lamp technology.
As with an ecosystem, even one small positive change often acts as a catalyst, setting off a chain reaction. For commercial purposes, fluorescent lamps have been popular for some time. However, CFL bulbs, as I mentioned, have gained in popularity since legislative changes to bulb efficiency standards were announced.
In 2014, a Statistics Canada report showed that three-quarters of total households reported using compact fluorescent lights. With so many Canadians using efficient compact fluorescent bulbs, we must ensure their safe disposal.
We warn consumers to step out of the room if a mercury bearing bulb breaks, but we do very little when Canadians dump these bulbs into our landfills every day.
Mercury is dangerous and toxic.
We are talking about an element that causes severe health problems, birth defects, and even death.
Commercial fluorescent bulbs alone contain 22 milligrams of mercury. Sources state that it takes only 0.5 milligrams of mercury to pollute 180 tonnes of water. One small CFL light bulb contains between 0.17 milligrams and 3.6 milligrams of mercury. It might not sound like a lot, but with more than three-quarters of Canadians using these bulbs, it really adds up.
The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment reported that waste lamps, whether broken or intact, contribute about 1,150 kilograms of mercury to landfills in Canada each year. That is 1,150 kilograms of mercury with the potential to poison our water and lands.
Mercury has the ability to undergo long range transport. That means that mercury deposited into a Halifax landfill could theoretically redeposit somewhere in northern Canada.
It is our responsibility to show real environmental leadership and protect Canadians whenever we can. We must take responsibility and protect future generations from this needless pollution. We can no longer pass the buck. We must work together and act now.
Solutions to this problem already exist.
As I mentioned, my private member's bill was inspired by an amazing and innovative facility in my riding of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour. It recycles every bit of a fluorescent lamp. These bulbs are made of glass, mercury, lead oxide, and phosphorous powder. This facility separates and reuses the glass in the production of new bulbs. The metal is melted down and reused by metal recycling facilities. It even processes and recycles the phosphorus powder that contains the toxic mercury.
Facilities like this exist across Canada. The member for Edmonton Strathcona has a facility in her riding that recycles these toxic mercury-bearing bulbs, as do the ridings of Brantford—Brant, Cambridge, Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle, and Delta. These companies are focusing on a green economy, on clean technology. It is what we as a government have been talking about for the past six months. Investing in clean tech makes sense. Just look at these entrepreneurial ventures that have the ability to take this issue and turn it into something positive. We must encourage those with environmental and entrepreneurial spirit, like those who have established the facilities I have mentioned. My bill complements investment into the green economy. Bill C-238 has the potential to help grow this industry. We all know that when industry grows, so does the number of jobs.
Canadians are investing millions of dollars in the municipal landfills across the country. Whenever possible, we must divert recyclables from landfills. It makes dollars and it makes sense. These particular recyclables may be dangerous, but they are valuable when correct measures are taken. Light bulb recycling facilities, like the one in my riding of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, employ Canadians while providing a valuable environmental service. That is what we mean by a “clean economy”.
As I mentioned, solutions to this problem exist. Many provinces may lack CFL end-of-life strategies, but others are showing true environmental leadership. The Province of British Columbia is a fine example of leading the way and showing that successful models do exist. Notably, British Columbia's LightRecycle outreach program has diverted over 12.5 million lighting products from B.C. landfills since 2010. Its statistics are outstanding and extremely encouraging. This model gives us a hint of what we can achieve across the country. With a national strategy, we are merely currently scratching the surface. In 2010, only around 10% of British Columbia's mercury lighting was safely disposed of through this program. However, in 2013, that number skyrocketed to 74%.
I am not here to tell the provinces and territories what to do and how to do it. Although this particular program and model is encouraging, it is important to note that Bill C-238 does not put demands on the provincial and territorial governments. Bill C-238 is the first step in ensuring that mercury-bearing light bulbs are diverted from our landfills.
Bill C-238 calls for a conversation. It is about creating a dialogue and encouraging our provincial and territorial governments to collaborate from coast to coast to coast.
Canada is transitioning towards a green economy, and I believe Bill C-238 complements our government's firm belief that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand.
A problem like mercury in landfills from consumer waste takes real environmental leadership to solve. I believe a robust national strategy, with positive collaboration between our federal government and our provinces and territories, can ensure the safe disposal of mercury-bearing lamps. It is time to expect our provinces, municipalities, cities, and towns to make bold moves in the right direction.
We need to work together.
We need to work together with consistency across our country to protect Canadians from mercury.
I strongly believe that a national strategy for the safe disposal of mercury-bearing lamps is a bright idea and provides strong environmental leadership to protect our waterways and our land. This is a government that cares about the environment, but, more so, Canada is a country that deeply cares about the world we leave for future generations.
Together we can encourage our federal government to create an open dialogue with our provinces and territories to develop a strong national strategy for the safe disposal of mercury-bearing lamps. This is about fostering a discussion. As such, I look forward to continued feedback from members of the House.
I encourage all of my colleagues in this House to support Bill C-238. Why? Because we are all in this together. Every single one of our ridings across Canada is affected by this problem. With Bill C-238's federal environmental leadership, we can work together to leave this world a better place for future generations.