Catherine McKenna Canada's environment minister has agreed that "changes are needed to modernise and improve" the country's Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (Cepa) and environment ministry, would provide a complete proposal by June 2018.
The House Standing Committee released a report on 15 June urging sweeping revisions to Cepa and the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP). Among its 87 recommendations is one reversing the burden of proof onto industry for demonstrating the safety of 'substances of very high concern’ Catherine McKenna on 7 October make a response and noted that some of the recommendations can be "realised through implementation". Her agency is planning to address issues related to public participation and information gathering in that way.
She added, the government is considering regulatory, policy and programme changes that respond to some of the committee's recommendations. The government is on track to meet the CMP's goal of completing assessments of 4,300 chemicals by 2020.
"In parallel with the review of Cepa, the government is consulting a broad range of stakeholders to determine what the focus of chemicals management should be in the post-2020 period," Ms McKenna said.
'Something is coming'
Environmental advocates hope, and industry fears, that the Liberal government will alter Cepa and the CMP to move toward a hazard-based approach. J Gary LeRoux, president of the Canadian Paint and Coatings Association, said that a response proposing drastic changes could complicate the Nafta negotiations while rejecting the proposal would cause an upheaval among the government's supporters in the environmental community. He said the committee rushed to judgement on revising a system that took years of hearing and debate. We already have it right, he said. Canada's risk-based model has assessed chemicals much faster and more efficiently than European or American systems.
‘NGOs have strongly disagreed’
A joint statement issued by five NGOs "Cepa is almost two decades old and has largely failed to protect us from the effects of toxins". Reformation of Cepa goes holding hands with government’s agenda to improve Canada’s environmental laws that were gutted in the past few years,
Toxic programme manager at environmental defence, Muhannad Malas, told. I think it is a promising first step that the minister acknowledged and agreed that Cepa is outdated and needs to be modernised. So, this is a step closer to a meaningful update of Cepa, he said, “but we would like to see is a bill introduced in the House of Commons in early 2018".