Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Issue 2 - Evidence - May 16, 2006
OTTAWA, Tuesday, May 16, 2006
The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources met this day at 5 p.m. for a
review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (1999, c. 33) pursuant to section 343(1) of the said act.
Senator Tommy Banks (Chairman) in the chair.
The Chairman: I call the meeting to order, with apologies for the delay, and welcome all to the Standing Senate
Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. The meeting is convened to allow senators to become
better informed on the issues in respect of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act so that they are better able to
select which aspects will be examined, how deeply they will be examined and what recommendations might be made in
the committee's report.
From Environment Canada, the witnesses are Cécile Cléroux, Assistant Deputy Minister, Environment Stewardship
Branch and John Moffet, Acting Director General, Systems and Priorities. As well, we will hear from Paul Glover,
Director General, Safe Environments Programme, Health Canada and Daniel Blasioli, Senior Counsel, Department of
Members of the committee would appreciate hearing any advice on CEPA issues that the witnesses believe we
should examine. The committee will determine the direction of its mandated study after it hears testimony from
government officials, industry representatives and NGOs.
Cécile Cléroux, Assistant Deputy Minister, Environment Stewardship Branch, Environment Canada: It is a pleasure
for us to appear before the committee. We would like to begin with a presentation on the Canadian Environmental
Protection Act, 1999 and what the act encompasses, after which we will be pleased to take questions.
I see that many of you have received the binder we have circulated. I think it will be useful to go through it,
although, I will not go over each page. We will explain the contents of the binder so that you may use it for future
Senator Angus: We thought you were going to ask us questions to see if we did our homework and give us a mark.
Ms. Cléroux: It would be pleasant to reverse the roles. No, we will not go in that direction. If we review, everyone
will know exactly the material we have put at your disposal and be able to inform your discussion.
If it agrees with you, Mr. Moffet will lead with the presentation and we will thereafter take questions.
The Chairman: We are joined by Senator Cochrane representing the government side. We have introduced our
John Moffet, Acting Director General, Systems and Priorities, Environment Canada: The purpose of this presentation
is threefold. First, we want to give you a broad understanding of the objectives and principles that underlie the act.
Second, I will spend a little bit of time describing the various issues that the act requires or enables the government to
address. Third, as you know, the House Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development is undertaking
a review of the bill, and we have completed some preparation for that review. We will share with you the general
findings we derived from those presentations.
The act, as you know or as you are about to learn, is a massive document. It consists of three broad principles.
The act enables the government to support sustainable development in a particular way, and that particular way is
by supporting, encouraging, and requiring the government to undertake pollution prevention. An ounce of prevention
is better than a pound of cure, as the old adage goes. That is the focus of environmental protection and certainly
became the dominant focus during the 1990s when the act was developed.
Throughout the act there are provisions calling on the government to take action in a coordinated way, both across
the federal family of legislation and with provinces and territories. In implementing the act, we act in international
collaboration with other countries that are addressing similar issues.
Third, in relation to the focus of pollution prevention, one of the core objectives of the act is to focus on substances
and to manage risks to human health and the environment. A specific set of provisions in the act actually require the
government to move towards the virtual elimination of certain substances that are deemed to be particularly
The act is explicitly guided by five core principles. First, the government in taking action will be guided by a risk-
based approach. We need to understand the hazardous properties of a substance or a pollutant of any kind. In other
words, what kind of properties does the substance have in a lab? What are its toxicological characteristics? That in
itself is not enough for us to take action. In addition, we need to know what kind of exposure there is to Canadians and
their environment. Those two factors combined comprise risk.
Second, we use the ecosystem approach. The act was developed in the 1990s, but it derived from the earlier CEPA of
1988. That version was put together by amalgamating a number of previous environmental protection acts, many of
which focused on very specific issues such as environmental contaminants or air pollution, as examples.
This act brings all the authorities together as much as possible and enables us to take a multi-pollutant and a
multimedia approach so we can look at trade-offs and synergies among air, water and land.
In addition to being risk-based, the act emphasizes the importance of good science. It provides broad authorities to
both departments to undertake science and requires us to undertake various types of scientific research and publish the
Fourth, the act requires the government, as an administrative duty, to take into account the precautionary principle
in every decision we make under the act. Essentially, that means that we should not let the absence of full scientific
certainty stand as an impediment to making decisions that are in the interests of Canadians' health or their
Finally, the polluter pays principle is one that has found its way into the international literature and agreements.
The notion is that decision-makers, individuals or organizations who pollute and who thereby impose an external cost
on society, should be the ones who bear the cost of their action, as opposed to taxpayers. In some cases, future
generations will bear the cost unless the action is prevented.
CEPA does not act alone. Even within the federal family there are a wide range of statutes that are used to address
environmental issues, and CEPA is just one of them. It is a very important act, but it is not the only one.
CEPA relates to other environmental protection acts and in many cases, CEPA provides a baseline level of
protection. Let us take new substances as an example. If the act provides that another statute authorizes the same type
of notification, assessment and management regime for a particular set of new substances, as long as that regime is
equivalent to the one CEPA provides, that act operates and CEPA does not. In this way, we avoid overlap and
We have agencies with specific expertise in the seeds of the pesticides that will do the actual assessment, and they
take responsibility for making the decisions. If they are not able to do that, then CEPA provides the baseline level of
protection for Canadians and their environment.
It is important to understand that we are talking about pollution when we talk about CEPA. We are not referring to
natural resources management. There are other federal statutes that address nature and natural resources
management, and of course, the role of the provinces becomes even more important when one gets into that realm.
As I have mentioned, CEPA provides requirements for the federal government to consult with other provinces and
territories. It establishes CEPA as a baseline level of protection within the federal family of environmental protection
In implementing the act, we need to collaborate as much as possible. In speaking with other stakeholders, I think
you will discover information about the way both departments have implemented the act in the past.
We do not interpret the act strictly as a health and environment protection act. We think it is important to
implement the act in a way that also accounts for impacts on industry and accounts for our position, as one among
many nations in the world, of sharing the same environmental problems as others. Indeed, many of these problems
cannot be addressed by Canada alone. One fact that makes that point particularly salient is the fact that Canada
imports over 80 per cent of the products it purchases. We do not actually control the way the other countries
manufacture their products and if we want to do that, we need to work closely with those countries to come to a safe
Finally, as we administer and as you review the act, we must keep in mind that the act is not just about protecting
the environment for today but also protecting it for the future.
CEPA is a big act and it gives us broad authority to address a number of issues. While the act is not the only
environmental protection act, it allows us to do many things. It provides the primary source of authority to address
new substances that come into Canadian commerce. Before a new substance can enter commerce a proponent who
wants to import or manufacture must notify Health Canada and Environment Canada, plus provide us with the
information we prescribe. They then must give us the time that is prescribed in the regulations to assess any risks from
the substances and to determine whether the substance should be allowed into Canada, whether we should impose
conditions on its use, or indeed whether we should ban the substance.
We can also look at substances that were in commerce before those new substances rules came into effect and which
continue to be used in commerce. The act provides us with a mechanism to identify those substances, assess the
possible risks and take a variety of risk management actions.
There are also specific provisions in the act that enable us to address air emissions from a wide range of vehicles,
engines and fuels. Indeed, we have a comprehensive set of regulations that ensures that we are at least as stringent as
our counterparts in the United States.
The act also establishes a regime regulating disposal at sea, so anyone who wants to ``ocean dump'' dredged
material, construction waste, et cetera, has to go through a permitting process and has to demonstrate that recycling
and reuse are not options. They have to prove that sea disposal is the only viable option. Further, the act specifies that
disposal at sea can only be allowed for a small number of substances.
The act also gives the federal government the authority to step in and address problematic sources of international
air and water pollution that might otherwise be under the jurisdiction of a province. Where those sources are
contributing to pollution in a foreign country or where those sources are in violation of an international agreement that
Canada has signed, the federal government can intervene to control those sources. The government follows a
procedure that involves contacting the relevant jurisdiction to ascertain whether it cannot or will not take action.
The act has a comprehensive regime for addressing the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes. The actual
control of waste disposal facilities, landfills, is primarily a provincial jurisdiction. However, when hazardous recyclable
materials and certain other types of solid wastes cross boundaries, either interprovincially or internationally, then
permits are required under CEPA to track the substance and ensure that the substance is dealt with in the most
environmentally sound manner — a term that is defined in the act.
The act also gives us authority to require facilities to prepare environmental emergency plans to ensure they are
prepared to deal with emergencies in the most efficient manner possible. The regulations promulgated under the act
address a wide range of substances and affect a large number of facilities in Canada, ensuring that they are prepared to
deal with environmental emergencies. In addition to that, the act gives the federal government the authority to take
action in cases of environmental emergencies where no one else is acting. It also enables us to provide technical
assistance and other sorts of support to ensure that emergencies are dealt with in an appropriate manner.
Finally, the act gives the federal government broad authority to establish a regulatory regime to address
environmental issues that arise with respect to federal activity in Aboriginal lands. We have a specific set of provisions
to deal with federal facilities, federal lands and Aboriginal lands because in general terms provincial environmental
laws do not apply to these lands.
A mosaic of federal and provincial environmental laws protects Canadians living on provincial lands or on a
reserve. The federal laws apply to the reserves. As an example, here in Ottawa, we have national capital lands that are
not subject to Ontario or Quebec environmental protection laws. To fill that gap, as we refer to it, the CEPA gives
authority to take action to establish an equivalent regime if the government so chooses.
In addressing each of those diverse issues, the act essentially provides for the same type of approach. It provides us
with broad authorities to understand an issue, to scope the issue out, to do science, to listen to the public, to gather the
information we need to understand the issue. It then gives us broad authorities to assess the particular risk so that we
can understand the source of the risk and the best place to target risk management efforts. It gives us a broad suite of
risk management tools, so we are well beyond the simple tool of if there is a problem you must regulate it in the
following manner. It gives us a broad range of tools that includes broad regulatory authority, the authority to
introduce various economic instruments such as deposit refund schemes and tradeable permits and the authority to
require pollution prevention plans. We can establish codes of practice and establish guidelines. We can develop the
most appropriate tool to fit the particular issue.
The act does not provide us with much guidance in terms of how to select the tool. That is up to the government,
and the government of the day can make choices as it sees fit. The important point is that we have a suite of tools at our
disposal that we did not have before CEPA 1999. Indeed, many other environmental protection statutes do not provide
such tools to governments.
The act also provides us with a broad range of authorities to monitor compliance and environmental conditions
resulting from the interventions that we may have made. It requires us to report to the public on those environmental
conditions so the public can hold the government and regulated parties accountable.
The act also gives us a wide range of enforcement authorities so that we can choose the appropriate way to respond
to a particular situation. Those authorities can range from very modest interventions where there is obviously goodwill
and the incident may have been inadvertence or a technical non-compliance. The authority ranges through to criminal
prosecutions where there is an obvious intent or negligence in terms of intention to uphold the law.
The government should see the implementation as a cyclical issue so that we are informed when we move forward to
address a new issue in terms of lessons that we have learned from the way we have addressed previous issues. We must
constantly update our approaches to the issues that we are addressing and not just issue a regulation and sign off and
hope for the best.
Finally, I will give you a bit of background on what we did in preparation for the House of Commons review. It is
our assumption and our hope that these preparations will be useful for your activities as well.
Both departments commissioned external evaluations by independent, professional evaluators of our respective
implementations of the act. The binder that we have provided to you includes the final copy of the evaluation
commissioned by Environment Canada. It is our understanding that the Health Canada evaluation is not finalized, but
I am sure Mr. Glover will be happy to speak to you about the status of that evaluation. The binder also provides you
with Environmental Canada's response to the evaluation. We are on record saying that the independent evaluators
found the following things and made the following recommendations and we agree with all the findings. We hope this
will guide you in terms of some of the key issues that may be relevant to your review.
We also conducted a number of stakeholder discussions, and we did that in two ways. Officials from both
departments contributed to a discussion paper about the issues we thought Canadians might want to discuss. The
document was not blessed by the minister or by the cabinet. We published that document on the Internet, and we asked
people to provide comments. We have given you a copy of that document, which identifies a number of issues you
might find of interest. We have also provided you with a report prepared by a consultant that summarized the
responses we received to the Internet process.
We also took the document across the country and convened six open houses where we invited Canadians to peak to
us. Health Canada and Environment Canada participated in those discussions. We heard from a wide range of
Canadians, from individual concerned citizens and members of civil society through to industry, municipal
governments and provincial governments. We provide you with a synthesis as prepared by an independent consultant
of what we heard during those discussions.
The first message from stakeholders is that the act is fundamentally sound. I hope that does not sound overly
defensive. The act was completely overhauled in the 1990s, and stakeholders told us that the act provides the
government with the powers it needs. Everybody has their own specific issue that they would like to see tweaked and
refined, but fundamentally the structure of the act is fine, according to the stakeholders, and what we really need to
focus on is improving the implementation of the act.
In most cases, the act is an enabling statute. It enables the government to take action in a wide range of areas. The
key issue that stakeholders spoke to us about and that you need to focus on is the decisions about how to implement
within that broad enabling authority. Are you addressing the right issues and doing so in the most efficient way
possible? Have you learned to take advantage of the broad suite of tools at your disposal under this act? Most people
told us that they want us to get on with the business of implementing this act, and improving the implementation of the
We certainly are looking forward to input from this committee, as well as input from the House committee, in terms
of specific ways that we can improve our implementation of the act.
Ms. Cléroux: In complement to the documents that Mr. Moffet flagged in his presentation, you have the overview of
the process. I will borrow the English version, because I have the French in front of me and I do not translate
The Chairman: You may speak in either language.
Ms. Cléroux: We should continue in French. I will refer to the copy I have with me.
Senator Angus: Excuse me, what exactly to you mean by ``over here?'' In the binder?
Ms. Cléroux: That is correct. This binder contains documents that provide added information, as well as some of the
documents mentioned in Mr. Moffet's presentation. It contains a general overview of the legislative review process,
along with an evaluation, and management's response to the Health Canada evaluation. We will complete the
information later. You will also find a summary of the different steps taken by the two departments in preparation for
the current review. You will also find the fact sheets prepared over the past six years for the general public on CEPA.
Also included are fact sheets on certain sections of the act to give members of the public a general ideal of the various
enabling powers or obligations under the act. Another document is the Guide to Understanding the CEPA further to
its enactment. It is a summarized version of the act, compared to the integral CEPA. Also included is Scoping the
Issues, a document prepared by officials from the two departments, which served as a basis for the consultations
mentioned by Mr. Moffet. The information binder also contains the summary report of comments received, the list of
toxic substances — Schedule 1, that is substances that once they have cleared Part V of the act, are deemed to be
substances requiring special handling for the safety of humans as well as the environment. Finally, the binder contains
the last annual report published in 2003-2004 which described the initiatives undertaken that year. Unfortunately, the
2004-2005 report will not be published until the fall of 2006. That summarizes the contents of the information binder.
If you would like us to point out some of the highlights of these documents, we would be glad to do so later for you.
These background documents will give you access to overall available data, thus saving you the trouble of having to
surf the various Internet sites.
The Chairman: Once the committee has reviewed your advice, it is likely to ask you to appear again to answer more
Ms. Cléroux: We will return with pleasure to answer those questions.
Senator Angus: I believe that the witness was saying this is the brick that has all the stuff in it. She does not know
which parts interest the committee so I would prefer to begin questioning Environment Canada now. Perhaps that
would afford Ms. Cléroux some insight as to the committee's focus. I suggest this only and Senator Cochrane agrees.
Mr. Chairman, I arrived late and might have missed your comments on the focus of this committee as opposed to
the House committee. This is a mammoth undertaking.
The Chairman: As we discussed previously, the first few meetings are to gather information and receive advice from
government officials, industry representatives and NGOs on the aspects of CEPA that are of importance to them,
respective of their areas of responsibility and expertise. The committee will then be in a better position to determine on
which aspects it will focus its review of CEPA.
We will not make that determination now. We will make that determination when we are better informed. We will
be in continuous consultation with Mr. Mill's committee in the other place to ensure that we do not plow each other's
fields. Should duplication occur, it will be for a purpose. Once we have heard the advice of government officials, NGOs
and industry representatives, we will determine the direction of the committee's review, after which we will ask selected
witnesses to appear again to give testimony that is more specific and to answer the relevant questions. I am certain
senators would agree that it makes sense to be better informed.
Senator Angus: I understand. Witnesses have made clear today that CEPA is the framework environmental
protection law in Canada. We have some corporate memory of environmental manners in Canada and how they either
work or do not work, based on our experience, which should serve us quite well in respect of the big picture of this
review. I would be happy to ask only a few introductory questions. I hope I am not misrepresenting what other
senators think. Certain things jump out because of our experience and what we are hearing tonight. It confirms
everything I have always thought. One witness from the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable
Development has appeared before the committee on a regular basis to tell us about her view of the world. It is quite
telling and this might not be a bad time to use some of that information to aid us in our questioning.
The Chairman: I agree. Before we begin the questioning, I want to be certain that the witnesses have told us
everything they want to tell us.
Senator Angus: They are saying here is the big book of everything we know. I empathize with the witnesses because
it is impossible to read the book to us.
The Chairman: We are not asking them to read the book to us. I want to ensure that in respect of the presentation
Ms. Cléroux and her officials have said everything that they want to say before we begin our questioning.
Ms. Cléroux: If it pleases the committee, Mr. Glover and Mr. Moffet will comment to complete the information.
After that it will be up to Senators to decide.
The Chairman: Is it agreed? Senator Spivak do you have a procedural question?
Senator Spivak: It is customary for the minister to appear at the beginning and at end of such major reviews. Is that
part of the plan?
The Chairman: The minister has been invited but we have not received a response.
Senator Angus: Senator Spivak, it is customary in cases where the minister has had the portfolio for a length of time
and not for only a few days. I would only make that comment.
Senator Spivak: No, no.
Senator Angus: I do not agree that it is customary.
Senator Spivak: With respect, Senator Angus, it does not have to do with her answering specific questions, which the
officials have answered, but rather it has to do with policy, on which only the minister can comment properly. In
almost every case, regardless of the time in office, the minister appears at some stage during the committee's study,
certainly at the beginning and at the end. This is not meant as a broad shot at the minister in any way.
Senator Angus: It sounds like it. The minister said she will come and she will do so.
The Chairman: The minister is not here today.
Senator Spivak: You are misinterpreting what I said.
The Chairman: Mr. Glover, please proceed with your comments.
Paul Glover, Director General, Safe Environments Programme, Health Canada: Thank you. In light of the discussion,
perhaps I might help. I attended all six of the sessions held across the country.
I would like to say a few more words on a subject of interest to Canadians.
Perhaps I could add a few of the comments heard from citizens at those six workshops. The comments fall into a
broad number of categories and I am not suggesting that the department necessarily supports them. However, as you
hear from more witnesses on the CEPA, these issues will come forward.
We are not making a comment about whether it is correct or accurate, but there has been significant speculation
about the resourcing levels of the departments to implement the act. Industry is concerned about the pace with which
we are able to provide a regime that deals with the substances that they produce, manufacture and import. In some
instances we are talking about a work plan that spans 25 years. That is a little long and does not provide stability.
NGOs and citizens with concerns would like us to do more and do it faster. Departments can be transparent about
what we have and how much we have can get done with that amount. Industry, NGOs and others have talked about
the level of resourcing the departments have to implement this broad an act.
Senator Angus: Mr. Chairman, I would raise a point of order because he said ``department'' a couple of times but
now is saying ``departments.'' You are referring to the level of resourcing of both Environment Canada and Health
Canada in respect to CEPA and its implementation.
Mr. Glover: CEPA is an act for which the Minister of the Environment and Environment Canada provide the lead.
Health Canada has resources and obligations, particularly on the human health side, to implement.
The other word we heard when we spoke with Canadians was ``transparency'' with respect to the act. It is without
question that we follow the letter of the law. We use Canada Gazette to let Canadians, industry and NGOs know what
we are doing, but on a number of occasions we heard ``how many people actually read Canada Gazette? Such a method
of transparency does not always lead to the kinds of transparency discussions in which they are interested.
We heard the question: ``What are the department's objectives and how well are we moving in meeting those
objectives?'' They also asked where to locate the documents on the state of our environment reporting and health
There were comments about the Minister of the Environment having a responsibility to maintain a national
pollutant release inventory. The Minister of Health does not have a similar obligation. We see gaps. This is not to say
that the department could not do it, but we are not legally obliged to do the same.
Things like biomonitoring are coming forward, where the Environment Defence fund involves looking at what is in
the blood of eleven prominent Canadians. There is also the Wendy Mesley report. There is no obligation under CEPA
for the federal government to actually do that, but other jurisdictions do hold that obligation.
It is challenging to assess where we are achieving health objectives, whether we have gone too far or not far enough.
Those were questions raised loudly from NGOs, from industry and others as we have moved forward.
With respect to communications, terminology was something that came up with regard to CEPA toxic and what it
means. It has a very specific meaning within the act. We heard a great deal about that and the confusion it creates when
something is inherently toxic but not CEPA toxic. When something is not inherently toxic but we declare it CEPA
toxic, that also creates confusion. We heard from both industry and NGOs on issues such as those.
The implementation tool, as my colleague Mr. Moffet said, is very flexible, but are we using the full breadth of the
tools available to us? Are we using them often enough?
Those were the principal highlights in what we heard and what I anticipate you will hear as you do your fact-finding.
Mr. Moffet: We have provided you with many documents. I hope you will have the time to review them all,
understanding that you are all busy. I draw your attention to two documents in particular.
First, tab B is the report prepared by the evaluators who undertook the formative evaluation of Environment
Canada's implementation of the act. That in itself is a lengthy document, but it does have a fairly concise executive
I think you will find the evaluation, if you get into the details, becomes focused on some very specific issues. At the
executive summary level, it identifies a number of broad issues that may be of interest to the committee. It asks whether
the government has appropriate objectives to guide the implementation of the act, determine priorities and ascertain
whether enough is enough.
The evaluation also focuses on other broad issues such as the adequacy of the authority and the institutional
capacity within the government to use economic instruments as a suite of tools that are broadly recognized to be useful
and efficient. These instruments are underutilized in Canada in relation to other OEC countries with regard to
That evaluation also strongly focuses on implementation issues with respect to the federal house, for example. It
identifies some broad themes.
At tab G, you will find the scoping paper the two departments prepared in anticipation of the stakeholder
consultations. That paper combines a broad discussion of the ideal directions for environment protection with what I
would characterize as a detailed identification of specific areas where the legislation might be improved.
As opposed to lengthy discussions about implementation as focused on in the evaluation, the scoping paper focuses
primarily on legislative issues. As I emphasized in my earlier presentation, it starts from the premise that the
fundamental structure of the act is sound, but there may be a few areas where it can be improved. I think you will find
identification of opportunities for improvement, not with recommended language but with issues addressed possibly
through refinements in the act.
Those two documents in particular may be of use to you.
Ms. Cléroux: We would be happy to make a return appearance, if necessary, at your invitation. It is difficult to go
any further at this point in time without having some idea of the legislation's components that you would like to
discuss in detail. This legislation covers a broad range of areas. We could speak for hours on end about each section of
the act, what areas it covers and how it applies. That is the reason why our presentation provides a fairly general
overview of CEPA and is not specifically thematic in tone.
Obviously, if you would like to us to come back and discuss in greater detail with the committee specific components
of the act, we would be happy to oblige. However, right now, it is difficult for us to know which subjects are of interest
The Chairman: In a few weeks, we will have determined exactly what aspects and exactly how broadly and how
deeply we wish to go. When we come to that determination, we will ask some of you to come back.
If you are agreeable now, ladies and gentlemen, we will go to questions of the witnesses.
Senator Cochrane: You say you do not want to deal with specific issues today. I have a few specific issues, and they
are burning in regards to my questioning. If you do not mind, I would like to present a few specific issues. Is that okay
at this time?
Ms. Cléroux: At this time that is no problem. We will take each question and go as far as we can in answering them.
You might ask questions that will require us to gather additional information. If that is the case, we will gather that
information at the end of the meeting. We are at your disposal right now.
Senator Cochrane: I am sure we will have you back.
The Chairman: Pardon me for interrupting, but I must have given the wrong impression. I did not want in any way
to constrain the focus of any questions that senators might have of the witnesses. I asked the witnesses to give us
overview and advice. The questions can be as pointed and as specific as we wish.
Senator Cochrane: I am sure you will be invited back. We have so many questions, especially when it comes to the
environment, chemicals, and toxic substances. I will begin my questioning with the regulating of toxic chemicals.
Does Environment Canada regulate toxic chemicals? If so, how many are there and how are they regulated?
Ms. Cléroux: We do cover toxic chemicals. Mr. Glover and Mr. Moffet will help complete my answer, but toxic
chemicals are not toxic in and of themselves. They become toxic once we have evaluated and assessed exactly what
risks arise from them.
When they correspond to conditions in the act, what we often refer to as section 64, that is when we get into the
process of addressing if they are toxic or not. At that time, we enter into the regulation.
Specifically, because we touch on two angles, human health and the environment, I will let Mr. Moffet and Mr.
Glover answer in those aspects.
Mr. Glover: Health Canada is responsible for assessing under the act. It is section 64(c). The question that arises
from that section is: Is the substance harmful to human health? That applies to both new and existing substances. Both
departments must be notified of any new substance, at which time they both look at it and render a decision about
whether it is harmful to the environment or to human health and render a decision.
We can also do the same with all existing substances — those substances already in use. If we find the science has
changed and if it has been in use for such a long time that it was grandfathered and never looked at, we can go back to
the substance and make a decision.
With respect to how we do that it is risk-based. That means we attempt to understand the hazard it poses. We
attempt to understand if the substance is inherently toxic as science would describe it, and does it lead to certain
undesirable health ends. We determine the likelihood of exposure to that substance. We put those two things together
and we can act in a number of ways: We can ban it from use. If it is already in use we can direct that it be virtually
eliminated and set a period within which that might happen. We can also say that it can be used but only in certain
conditions so that it does not create a potential for risk to Canadians, and that there are certain benefits, certain
applications that make sense. The range of activities we can take after having looked at that is really quite broad.
Mr. Moffet: You were asking about numbers. As Mr. Glover explained, we have two regimes in CEPA: One for new
substances, one for existing substances. For new substances, the law requires that any proponent wishing to import or
manufacture a substance that has not already been assessed must follow a certain procedure. We receive approximately
800 notifications per year and have done so on average since 1994, which is when I believe the regulations came into
effect. Thousands of substances have been assessed through that process and we have imposed various conditions on
some of those substances and have banned a small number as a result of the findings of the assessments.
Those are the numbers on the new substances side. On the existing substances side, the best way to understand the
magnitude of the challenge is to actually understand how we define a new substance. When CEPA 1988 was created, it
established a domestic substances list, which listed all substances in commerce in the mid-1980s that were in use over
certain thresholds. We used that list to say that anything not on that list is a new substance, and that is how we used
that list for many years. However, Canada, along with all other developed countries, realized during the 1990s that it is
not enough to simply assess new substances; we have this legacy of existing substances, many of which continue to be
Now, the act provides us with the authority to assess those substances. We can assess anyone we want and then if we
determine that the substance poses a risk based on its hazardous properties and its potential exposure to Canadians
and their environment then we can take risk management actions. The way we do that is by concluding that the
substance meets the criteria in section 64 of the act, at which point we can call it ``toxic,'' and that authorizes us to take
certain regulatory actions.
To date we have added 79 substances to the list of toxic substances. The word ``substance'' is a very broad term.
Some are individual chemicals; some are effluent streams, such as the stuff coming out of a pulp and paper mill, which
of course comprises dozens if not hundreds of individual chemicals. We have called the whole effluent stream toxic
because it poses a risk and needs to be addressed in some way.
In addition to those 79 substances that have been added to the list, the new act, CEPA 1999, requires us to
categorize all 23,000 substances that were added to the domestic substances list. We were required to finish that
categorization by this September. By this September we will have basic hazard information about all of those
substances. We will have some basic information about the hazardous properties of those substances.
Typically, we will not yet know how they are used; we might not even know who uses them. In some cases we will
not even know whether they are still used in Canada. However, we will have some basic information about those
substances. What the law then requires us to do is assess substances that meet certain criteria specified in the law. We
have identified about 4,000 substances that meet those criteria, so we will then have to assess those substances. When
we have assessed and if we conclude that there is a risk, then we will be authorized to manage those substances.
I hope that gives you some sense of the numbers of substances that we are talking about.
Senator Cochrane: How many substances have been banned?
Mr. Moffet: I cannot tell you that, but we can certainly come back to you with the full information. We would be
able to tell you how many new substance applications have resulted in a ban. We also have a regulation called the
prohibition of certain toxic substances regulations, and that regulation lists a number of substances that cannot be used
in Canada. Off the top of my head I do not know the numbers, but we can provide that information in written
Ms. Cléroux: May I make a tiny correction? Mr. Moffet referred to what you will find in your binders under tab K,
which is that schedule 1 list of substances. He said there are 79 substances, but the 79 are not individual substances,
some are classes of substances. It encompasses a number larger than 79, but the exact number depends on all of the
chemistry of each of those substances.
The Chairman: Mr. Moffet, please provide the clerk with a list of those substances that have been, to use your term,
``banned,'' although that is not exactly the right word, is it?
Mr. Moffet: That is a highly technical, legal term. We will provide you with a list of the types of prohibitions, which
substances and how they have been prohibited. Would that help?
The Chairman: Yes, please.
Senator Cochrane: To be honest with you, I like the word ``banned.'' Let me just go further.
This act allows us to virtually eliminate toxic and persistent chemicals. Explain to me what is meant by virtually
eliminate toxic and persistent chemicals? ``Virtually eliminate'' is what I want you to define.
The Chairman: Please give us an example of virtually eliminate rather than ban. The reach system in Europe simply
says you cannot use the element in your product. That is not the same as saying we are going to eliminate it. Virtually
eliminate is a moving target, given the efficacy of measurement, right? That is a very cogent question. What do we
mean by virtual elimination?
Ms. Cléroux: The main difference is the following: When we ban, we are prohibiting the use of the substance in
Canada. We are doing everything we can to prevent having any trace of that substance released in the country.
Normally, we do that when the substance has not started to be used in the country. My colleagues can complete my
answer if I am missing one of the nuances of that prohibition.
When we are talking about virtual elimination, it means that the substance is in action in Canada, it is in use in
Canada, most of the time because it was in use before the different acts came into force. What we are targeting is to
take a different set of actions to do everything we can to diminish its use so that its availability in the country is reduced
to a minimum. It is normally linked to the kind of uses of the substance and how that substance is chemically released.
Some are the result of a chemical procedure or reaction. It may not necessarily be a product that someone buys in a
bottle, but the result of an industrial or chemical reaction. That is the difference. Perhaps my colleagues would like to
add to that.
Mr. Moffet: Mr. Chairman, you have hit on the precise definition in the act. The act defines virtual elimination by
reference to measurement techniques: to a term of level of quantification, which is essentially defined as the level at
which best available measurement techniques can detect the substance in the environment. Although the act does not
state it, there needs to be an explicit understanding that the level of quantification may change over time as our sensing
and detecting technologies evolve, hence the term ``virtual elimination.'' We can never be absolutely certain that it is
entirely gone, but we can move over time in that direction.
Daniel Blasioli, Senior Counsel, Department of Justice: There is a subtlety that industry will no doubt make clear to
you. The act does not provide for virtually eliminating substances, but rather their releases. That is a key point.
Substances can still be used, but their releases are virtually eliminated. The definition, if you are interested, is in section
Mr. Moffet: To expand on that, the act requires that the ministers implement virtual elimination as defined by
section 65 for certain substances. The ministers have no choice about moving towards virtual elimination of releases, as
Mr. Blasioli emphasizes. Ministers do have a choice about what they do with respect to the use of the substance. They
can, if they so choose, also eliminate the use of the substance, but they do not have to. The act requires them to
virtually eliminate the release of the substance.
The Chairman: If I put something into plastic to make it soft and pliable for the purposes of making a toy, for
example, and if the substance is sufficiently contained in that process so that I do not release any of it, and if the
present measurement capacity indicates that there is no release after I have put those two things together to make a toy,
then nothing has been released. Have I got that right, or am I barking up the wrong tree?
Mr. Moffet: Let us follow your hypothesis in that case. Let us assume there is no release, in which case one might be
able to say that the letter of the law has been achieved. The minister will have complied with the obligation — virtually.
Again, as I emphasized, that is not the end of the analysis that the departments would typically do. Typically we would
ask whether, in order to address the risk that we have identified to human health or the environment, we also need to
take additional measures. In fact, the regulations that I referred to earlier, the prohibition of certain substances
regulation, prohibits use of substances. We have taken that path in the past under CEPA.
Senator Milne: As a supplementary, does your testing go as far as following the product, the plastic that has been
softened and moulded, throughout its life span into waste disposal? Presumably, at that point it begins to deteriorate
and release some of these toxic substances.
Ms. Cléroux: Our responsibility under the act is to take the product from the cradle to the grave. We look at its life
cycle, where it goes in the environment and its accessibility to humans during its life cycle. That is why it takes a long
period of time to do the risk assessment and gather all the information. We have to look at not only one phase of the
life of the substance but what the releases of that component are.
Mr. Glover: As per the presentation earlier, more legislation is available than CEPA. There is also the Hazardous
Products Act. If we find that a substance is being released from the product, CEPA is a tool. If we find the product
itself is hazardous, the Hazardous Products Act is available to the federal government in terms of legislation.
The Chairman: Thank you.
Senator Cochrane: You say the substance is not prohibited, but the release is, from birth to death. The product goes
into a landfill, and after so many years the soil becomes contaminated with this substance. It also goes into our water
system. What happens then? That toxic substance is still released into the environment, is it not?
Ms. Cléroux: Cradle to grave includes going into a landfill and the possible reaction of the substance in a landfill.
The stability of the substance in its existing environment is linked to the stability of the chemical components. Once it
has been included in a product, it is part of the product, and we look at whether it is stable or can be released from the
product. Scientifically, we now know things that we did not know 20 years ago about the potential reaction in the
disposal environment, and, I am sorry to say, it will be the same for the next years to come. We do not know many
things today but will discover them later.
With the best knowledge available in 2006, we ensure that we look at the cradle to grave. For the grave, we make
sure that a product is totally stable and cannot release anything, if it reacts with other pieces in a landfill, for example.
We cannot say that we know everything. With the science that is being developed, we are continuously receiving
information. We might reassess substances that were considered very stable in the environment in the past. With new
knowledge, that assessment could be revisited. It is a never-ending story. We cannot say we have dealt with something
and it is over. One day we can say it is stable, and the next we could be told by the science — not an individual on the
street, but science — that what we thought was stable is not, and we would have to revisit the case.
We always have to keep the information active. That is why we are a member of so many international committees.
We have to ensure that the best science in the world is available to Canadians and that we are doing our work in
Mr. Moffet: We should provide the committee with a document prepared in the mid-1990s, and we will do so. It is
called the Toxic Substances Management Policy. This document remains a policy of the Government of Canada. It
informs all Government of Canada activities with respect to toxic substances. The policy describes the government's
objectives with respect to two types of substances. It describes which substances are subject to the policy objective of
virtual elimination. It also states that the objective for other toxic substances that pose a risk is life-cycle management.
As Ms. Cléroux has emphasized, the objective is to manage those risks throughout the life cycle but that objective
may not always be attained. The objective of virtual elimination is to virtually eliminate the substance throughout the
life cycle. The document sets out in plain language those objectives, and I think that might be useful. We will provide
copies of that document to the committee
The Chairman: We would be grateful.
Mr. Moffet: In addition to the statutory obligations, the committee might want to consider in its review that the
government has broad authority to regulate and control substances. The government also has considerable power, or
could have considerable power, to encourage the creation and use of more environmentally benign substances.
That is not something you regulate; it is something you could induce through various programs. Indeed, we have
programs in Canada, but other countries have gone beyond us in encouraging concepts such as green chemistry. The
United States, for example, has active federal government programs, working with the chemical producers and
academia to encourage the industry to learn how to design more environmentally and humanly benign chemicals.
Similarly, active programs throughout the world focus on design for environment, another phrase you may hear
from stakeholders. This concept relates to informing product designers about how to design products that account for
things that product designers have not typically accounted for. For example, what happens to the product once it is
disposed of? The typical focus of a designer, of course, is on the user. Will the user be happy with the looks? Will the
user be happy with the function? Who cares what happens to it once it is disposed of.
Design for environment accounts for the full life-cycle impacts. There is an evolving science around design for
environment, which is taught at various universities, and which is gaining support from various governments
throughout the world. You might want to consider that different government role that could be played.
Senator Cochrane: How many substances are on the virtual elimination list?
Mr. Moffet: One is proposed for addition to the list. That is not to say we have only prohibited one. The list was
required to be established under this act. The act provides a detailed set of steps to go through, so substances that we
had prohibited before this act came into effect have not been added to the list. The assumption was that adding them
added no value. We had already taken care of those substances. We are now in the process of establishing the list and
anticipate using it more extensively in the future.
Senator Cochrane: How long did it take to add one to this elimination list? There is no other?
Ms. Cléroux: Remember that with the virtual elimination we will create a list of last resort for the use of a substance
that has been in use in Canada for a long period of time.
A substance that goes onto the virtual elimination list is not new. It has to be one of the chemicals or products that
substances release. It becomes complex each time because we are targeting precisely something that we do not want in
the environment any longer.
This process is to ensure that we have done everything possible, and yet we still find a potential release in the
environment. For the first substance, the overall process took, I would say, over 10 years. We can give you the exact
number of years. However, many management measures have been put in place, and now, the virtual elimination list is
the last element, because a substance hits virtual elimination because we have done everything else, and we can still find
that component in the environment.
Scientifically, now that we have experience, we will be a lot faster with the others. The time to go through all the
steps for the necessary peer review and the required benchmark review to see what has been done with such a substance
in other countries, all of that work took a number of years to organize and to develop a systematic approach.
Senator Cochrane: Are you saying it will now be faster?
Ms. Cléroux: Yes, but you will not see much of that because we do everything we can to manage it before we take
virtual elimination measures.
Senator Spivak: I wish to follow Senator Cochrane's line of questioning. There was a convention on the dirty dozen.
Many countries have eliminated them all. Canada is proposing only one. Is that chemical the virtual elimination
chemical about which the senator spoke? The dirty dozen refers to chemicals that are so bad it was agreed the
chemicals should be eliminated, and countries have done that, but we have not. Why?
Ms. Cléroux: I am sorry. It is not that I do not want to help you. This is the first time I have heard the expression,
``the dirty dozen.''
Senator Angus: Have any of you heard of it?
Mr. Blasioli: The chemicals are likely found in the prohibition of toxic substances regulations.
Mr. Moffet: We will provide you with the details of those substances. There is an international convention.
Senator Spivak: There was a convention that agreed.
Mr. Moffet: I draw your attention to slide 5 of the deck that I presented. CEPA is not the only statute that addresses
chemicals. Many substances are pesticides that were already banned and no longer used in Canada before we entered
into that convention.
Ms. Cléroux: Because you have a precise question to which we do not have the answer, we will provide a precise
answer rapidly to the clerk.
Senator Spivak: In the European Union, the burden of proof, the onus, is on industry to prove the safety of a
chemical before it is introduced. Here, we have the opposite. The company introduces the chemical, and then we go
about showing whether it is safe.
Industry is well equipped to assess safety. In your opinion, is it a good idea to reverse the onus of proof in the CEPA
Ms. Cléroux: My two colleagues, Mr. Glover and Mr. Moffet, will answer that question with pleasure because it is a
key element of some of the features of CEPA.
Mr. Glover: You have posed an excellent question, senator. There is much talk about Registration, Evaluation and
Authorisation of Chemicals, REACH,and what it does and does not do. I will talk first about what CEPA does. Under
the existing substances, we put the onus on industry to provide us with the data so that we can determine for ourselves
whether they have met the threshold. Under the new substances, when they notify us, we can and do ask for
The same holds true for existing substances. We can demand of industry the information we need to allow us to
arrive at our conclusion. CEPA already has provisions that allow us to do that.
Mr. Moffet: In addition to understanding how CEPA works, I respectfully suggest that you are referring to the
REACH initiative in Europe, which is not yet law. REACH has been proposed, discussed and amended for a number
of years, and is still not law in Europe.
When CEPA 1999 came into effect, there were initial discussions around REACH. The categorization exercise of
which I spoke has already provided us with the basic information about the toxicological characteristics of all existing
We are almost a decade ahead of the European Union in terms of the information baseline. They do not have that
That part of REACH is not relevant because we already have the information. We need to talk about what we will
do with that information. As Mr. Glover emphasized, we have a provision in CEPA that enables us to require industry
to provide us with the full range of information that we need to determine whether a substance poses a risk.
Senator Spivak: The key point here is that industry does not have to prove that the substance is safe. Given the
timelines — the years — all kinds of chemicals are in use in Canada in that period of time. Look at the figures that
show where Canada is in terms of toxic substances compared with the OECD countries. We are not good. We are
almost last. This process of evaluation takes a long time. If industry had to prove the safety of the substances, industry
would take the time instead of the Canadian public.
With respect to off-road vehicles, if my memory serves me correctly, the minister was about to have regulations that
would involve the chemical emissions of boats and personal watercraft, PWCs. What has happened? Are off-road
vehicles such as boats, wakeboards, PWCs, Sea-Doos, Ski-Doos and all-terrain vehicles completely regulated? What is
the status of that regulation? Has it been dealt with under CEPA?
Ms. Cléroux: I will answer the last question first and the first one after.
We have dealt with the regulation of all the vehicles by grouping the vehicles to match the U.S. laws especially
because most of the vehicles go across the border. A suite of regulations is being put together. We could provide you
with the exact timing of each regulation because some are coming forward in the coming months but the vehicles are
not yet regulated.
Senator Spivak: That amounts to an average; am I right?
Mr. Blasioli: Right now, two regulations that recently came into force will capture a good portion of the vehicles you
have named: the off-road compression ignition engine emission regs, and the off-road small-spark ignition engine
emission regulations. Both those terms really mean, ``diesel and gas.''
As my colleague Ms. Cléroux indicated, further regulations are coming down the pike.
Ms. Cléroux: We have a large suite of regulations for vehicles that will be enforced in the near future.
The Chairman: Will you send us that list and the dates on which they will come into effect?
Ms. Cléroux: Yes, we can do that.
Senator Spivak: Can you also send the exact technicalities because my understanding is there was some difficulty
with having them match the U.S. figures?
Ms. Cléroux: We will provide you with the best information. As you can understand, because of that cross-border
issue, we always have to benchmark and be able to identify vehicles for both countries because the market does not see
the border between the two countries.
With respect to your comment about the substances, a new substance cannot come onto the market in Canada until
it has been accepted. For that, we have exactly what you are looking for. The process might be different, but no new
substance can come into commerce without having been accepted. Therefore, until we have all the information to be
satisfied that its use will be environmentally okay — ``environmentally'' includes humans and the environment in
general — the substance cannot come into the country. Canadians are not paying for that information. Until the
substance has been accepted, it cannot come into the country.
The question we are faced with, and are dealing with, is substances that were in commerce when CEPA came into
force in 1988. It is a ``droit acquis'' and we have to deal with them with a different approach. I do not know if my
colleagues can complete the information about how it is dealt with in the rest of the world for the in-commerce
Senator Spivak: If you take the arthritis medications, for example, the new Celebrex and so forth, it turned out later
that all the data had not been submitted and the company had not really demonstrated what all the side effects are, so
it has a slightly different nuance.
Ms. Cléroux: CEPA does not deal with medication. Medication is under another act that is dealt with by our
colleagues at Health Canada.
Senator Spivak: Yes, but I am talking about the principle.
The Chairman: We will look forward to that list.
Senator Angus: Mr. Moffet, the document that you walked us through is a good document as a base for our study
and our questioning. I agree with you that slide number 5 is good evidence of the complexity of your mandate, and I
take it that you all agree the legislation is complex here. I did not count the number of acts in this slide but there are
That leads me to this review and your consultation with the stakeholders and what you heard from them. You have
listed a few in slide number 17.
I will ask a couple of questions about that slide because we have heard in our studies over the last few years that big
challenges face Canada in dealing with the environment. One has to do with the adequacy of resources. I thought you
were delicate, Mr. Moffet, in saying that one of the big concerns was the ``resourcing levels'' of the department. Do you
mean that you do not have enough people, enough money or the right technology? I could go on.
What resources did the stakeholders point out to you that were short, which, I am sure, you acknowledged?
Ms. Cléroux: When the minister meets with you, she will be able to go into more details about that level of
As you know, the implementation of an act of that magnitude and depth can occupy many people in a country.
Judgment calls have to be made about how to go about it, and about the priorities and the resources that we will assign
to these tasks. We do exactly that on a continuous basis when we review what we are doing to implement CEPA.
Can something else be done? Could it go into a different direction? Could there be different emphasis? That is part
of the future implementation of CEPA. At this time, we can talk to you about what we are doing and the way we have
dealt with the priorities that have been identified under the act and what we can do with it.
If we take the issue of the complexity of the science, I can tell you that it is not always the case that having more
people deal with something gives us faster results. To understand the complexity of the processes needed, if we take the
question of virtual elimination, we need to ensure that we have the right understanding, the peer review and the right
steps taken in the right order. More resources is not always the answer. The question is complex and the answer is as
complex, depending on which angle you take.
I do not know if my colleagues would like to add anything about what we have heard. During the tour, there were
comments about resources. As for the future, the minister will be able to address that when she comes to meet with
Mr. Moffet: I will briefly respond.
Senator Angus: Perhaps, sir, as a preliminary question — because I am anxious to hear from you — I am intrigued
by your title, Acting Director General, Systems and Priorities.
Mr. Moffet: It is a good cocktail conversation starter.
Senator Angus: What does it mean?
Mr. Moffet: I would like to know, too.
Seriously, the title speaks to the growing emphasis of the department on trying to ensure that we make decisions
across this brick systematically. A lot of people are behind this act — and a lot of people behind the good deck that you
complimented — beavering away, trying to do the right thing for the environment and human health, using specific
authorities under the act and, in many cases, using just a few authorities under the act. We want to ensure that we make
decisions in a consistent way, not to say we put everything into an algorithm to get an answer. Everything has to be
made on a case-by-case basis; but can we make decisions systematically? Can we set priorities somewhat more
systematically than simply giving the money and the attention to whoever has the loudest voice?
That is not to say that is entirely the way things have been done in the past; but Environment Canada is increasingly
emphasizing the importance of making decisions more systematically. That is the responsibility of my group. In fact,
my group was renamed in the last six months to provide that emphasis symbolically, and has been tasked with moving
in that direction.
I wanted to speak —
Senator Angus: The resources?
Mr. Moffet: I wanted to make a suggestion with respect to resources. You suggested I spoke delicately. That is not
often a reference made to me. I think that reference was to my colleague Paul Glover but I —
Senator Angus: I was opening the door.
Mr. Moffet: Perhaps we could provide the committee with a breakdown of the resources that have been provided to
the two departments. We can also break the resources down by program, if you wish. That breakdown is probably
better done on paper. I can give you the numbers for the last two years right now, but they are probably not that
relevant. We can give you a piece of paper to show you the way it has been broken down, if that is helpful.
Senator Angus: That would be super. I will say off the top, I think the title might be good because if that is a priority
we need to know the resources you have, right to how many employees are in a department and how much money you
have at the moment, say in the last few years.
I understand the purpose of this review is to try to have a better framework of law for a cleaner and safer
environment. I look at this number on that chart — there must be a better way to do it. We have heard time and time
again here at this committee that in Canada we have the tools — the technology and the legislation. I do not know all
the tools in 2006 that are needed to have a clean and safe environment, but we are not getting the job done. That
statement is terribly general. Hopefully this study, along with the study by our colleagues in the House of Commons,
can contribute constructively in some way to helping you folks. The Commissioner of the Environment and
Sustainable Development has told us time and time again that we are falling behind in the Organisation for Econonic
Co-operation and Development, OECD, even though we have all these tools.
Do you read the commissioner's reports? I know you must read them. What is the process in place in Environment
Canada when the commissioner's report is tabled in the House?
Ms. Cléroux: We have regular meetings that are organized with the commissioner on what we are trying to achieve.
We met with her again last week at the senior management committee to ensure that we have a continuous dialogue
and the issues she hears about are brought to our attention as soon as possible. Those meetings allow us to take
everything we can take into account in the way that we manage the department, to give us the best way possible to go
forward. We are creating a continuous dialogue.
Are we successful on every topic: probably not, but I can tell you the will is there. You can speak to the
commissioner, Johanne Gelinas, to clarify if she has the same opinion; but we consider that the open channel created
through the years has been conducive to ensuring we can take the best and most rapid action on whatever she brings to
Senator Angus: Are the recommendations that the commissioner makes in her reports, by and large,
recommendations with which you agree and criticisms with which you agree, or is she out to lunch? It is important
to us. We read the report. We get the report. We think, wow, there are problems here. I am coming to the conclusion
that you folks agree with them, but you do not have enough people, money and other tools to do your job effectively.
Ms. Cléroux: It would be impossible to answer generally on all the recommendations that the commissioner has
made through time. I can tell you that what the commissioner puts on the table always informs the future of the
department. If we disagree with something, we have a reason to disagree with it; but it always informs the future of the
department. The dialogue that exists between the commissioner and Environment Canada — and Mr. Glover will
speak to Health Canada, because the commissioner addresses issues that target both departments — is the way that we
try to ensure we clearly understand what she puts on the table. As you know, sometimes you do not get something at
first glance when you read it. Therefore, we need to have that open dialogue so that we can focus in the future to make
the corrections needed.
Senator Angus: Are you in agreement generally with the direction?
Ms. Cléroux: My understanding is that generally the department is in agreement with the conclusions but
specifically on each of them I could not answer. We would have to go back to the different reports that have been
issued through the years to be able to provide that.
Senator Angus: I was not at the hearings across Canada. However, from that last slide, and from what we have
heard, I would suggest that one of the things you have heard time and time again is that a complicating factor in
getting the best out of CEPA is jurisdictional problems. Is it federal jurisdiction? Is it provincial? Is it Environment
Canada? Is it Health Canada? Is it Transport Canada? Is it Fisheries and Oceans Canada? The result is that you are
caught up in this administrative nightmare that you cannot implement it yet, and six years is a short time. To us in this
committee, six years is a hell of a long time.
We hear that big things are happening that hurt our environment and they cannot be dealt with because of
jurisdictional disputes. I do not want to put words in your mouth. However, is that a fair thing to add to the list of
things you have heard from the stakeholders?
Ms. Cléroux: I ask Mr. Glover to answer because I was not with the department at the time. Mr. Glover will be able
to provide you with the best insights.
Mr. Glover: Senator, I will try to work backwards through the three points. With respect to jurisdictional issues, yes,
industry said that sometimes the direction from the different levels of government were contradictory on certain issues.
Jurisdictions say we think we already do this, and there is overlap and duplication. It also came from non-
governmental organizations, NGOs, and others, who suggested that there needed to be better coordination. They
suggested that it was not one single issue; that the complicated chart you saw in slide 5 needed to work better; and that
we need to use all those pieces of legislation so that we do not — if you think of squeezing a balloon — stop a problem
on one side and actually push more of it out somewhere else. If the substance is in a product, in an industrial release, in
a food or in a pesticide, how do we ensure that that full suite of tools available to the federal government is working in
concert. We have heard those comments so yes, we hear those things, without question.
In respect of the commissioner, as my colleague pointed out, Health Canada has virtually the same process where
there is regular dialogue with our deputy and executive. All the reports are looked at and a management response is
provided on a case-by-case basis as we move through them.
First and foremost, I will return to your resource question. I would submit to you that it is not whether the
department thinks there is sufficient resources but rather it is about some of the things we have heard from the public.
Canadians are concerned about the pace with which we are able to complete assessments and they want more from us,
faster. They are concerned about our ability to keep pace with science. We are no longer worried about one substance
but about several substances, and how these mixtures impact our bodies. That science is new, emerging and complex.
Canadians are worried about our inability to bio-monitor and report on that. Some concern was expressed about our
ability to communicate simply about what we find. Publishing bricks of scientific reports does not help someone who is
worried about something. How do we put it in simple language so that people know whether something is okay or not
okay? These are some of the criticisms by NGOs levelled at Health Canada, and suggested areas for improvement. We
prioritize carefully to ensure the wise use of our current resources. However, there are limitations and always will be,
given the 23,000 existing substances in Canada, and our ability to measure and find these things is growing every day.
Senator Angus: The most effective result of this review, chairman, would be a recommendation toward streamlining
the environmental framework law. It is a great, complex morass of contradictions, as one can see from reading this and
trying to figure it out. At the end of the day, there are insufficient resources to send into the field to implement the laws,
and to protect the birds, water or air. I can imagine the frustration that departmental officials must have; I share it
The Chairman: I will pursue a comment by Senator Angus, to which you referred, Mr. Glover, about people's
frustration with the inability of the department to monitor and to move things along faster. Senator Angus asked a
question, to which we did not receive a clear answer. I will rephrase the question. Do you look at the things that you
need to do, want to do and should do, on whatever altruistic level and discover that you do not have the resources to
Ms. Cléroux: First, on monitoring the environmental side, we have the capacity to monitor and collect the
information. The reference made was to monitoring in human beings — bio-monitoring — the presence of certain
chemicals and the capacity to follow up on the presence of those chemicals. That monitoring is not covered directly
under CEPA. For clarification, we have the capacity to monitor the releases and emissions from facilities on the
environmental side. We perform a national inventory each year of facilities that report to Environment Canada on
their various emissions. We have that environmental capacity.
The matter of resources is always a delicate and tricky question. We could give you a response based on the opinion
of the people around this table but it would not be the government's chosen position on the implementation of the act.
It is always delicate for us to answer a question of that nature because of our responsibilities. Yes, we are humans and
so we can make a judgment that we believe it to be sufficient because we are doing a damn good job and yet people
could still wonder where we are coming from.
Senator Angus: Do not be afraid; the government has changed.
The Chairman: That is the question and there is no one else that we can ask because no one else could give us an
answer to that question based on informed judgment. We cannot reasonably expect any government to do that because
it is the government. The only people that we can reasonably ask that question of are the professionals who look at the
job that has been mandated by the act. The stated objective of the act is to be fulfilled by the department and you are
the people in the department with the job of implementing and applying the act, and of reaching those goals. The
question is: Would you like more resources to do that job, or are you satisfied that you are doing the job that is
required of us in the act with the existing resources?
Ms. Cléroux: Mr. Glover will answer.
Mr. Glover: I support the comments of my colleague from Environment Canada. We are not trying to skate around
this. I will try to be as clear as I can be. Would more money help me do my job more effectively? Yes, it would help,
without question. At the same time, I have another responsibility as an employee of the Government of Canada to
respect the directions the government sets. Health Canada has a particularly challenging job to manage all the
determinants of health: the health care system, planning for pandemic and influenza, and other challenges. We can
look at the management of all the priorities that we face, but I question whether, relative to those other priorities, we
are doing all we need to do and can do.
The Chairman: We have the luxury of not dealing with those other priorities now. We are asking only in respect of
Mr. Glover: With respect, Mr. Chairman, I do not have that luxury, and it is part of the question that you have
asked. I exist within the Department of Health and work with colleagues to manage all those issues. I can say clearly
that we are criticized as a health department for not being able to work as quickly as people want, to assess health risks.
You will hear, not from me but from others, that our inability to match what Environment Canada does with respect
to its monitoring and our not knowing what is in humans presents a knowledge gap. Have we done enough? Do we
need to do more? Our ability to communicate those issues simply and effectively comes into question.
The Chairman: That is a function of the act, not of the resources to implement the act because the act does not
require you to do that.
Mr. Glover: It does not require me to do that but that is not to say that I could not reallocate resources and do fewer
risk assessments and start bio-monitoring, for example. I have to meet the legal obligations set out in the act.
The Chairman: I understand.
Senator Tardif: I would like to revisit one recommendation contained in the consultant's report, namely the call for
a formative evaluation.
The report noted that in order to strengthen the act's enforcement provisions, it would be important to develop a
framework that would include clear and realistic objectives and that would give all departments guidelines for setting
goals and assessing progress made and results achieved. The report was drafted in March 2005, or over one year ago.
Where are we now in terms of developing a framework that would provide direction to all departments?
Ms. Cléroux: Senator, Environment Canada has come up with a general framework for action that helps all
departments understand government initiatives in the environmental field. The framework was set up last fall.
Each time I try to recall the acronym, my mind goes blank.
Senator Tardif: Are you referring to the Competitive Environmental Sustainability Framework?
Ms. Cléroux: You are exactly right. I had forgotten the formal designation.
In addition to this management framework, also under development are indicators which have been the focus of
consultations. These are national environmental objectives, or targets that Canada would set for itself for the long
term, to guide our country's environmental initiatives.
The Scandinavian countries and some other European countries are considering adopting similar, long-term
environmental targets for each department at each level of government.
These targets are currently under discussion and under development. Further to the consultations that took place,
we will get an idea of whether or not the community is on board. However, the reference framework referred to earlier
was the department's response to the recommendation that came out of the evaluation process.
Senator Tardif: What is the level of commitment of each department? For example, are several deputy ministers
responsible for implementing this framework? At which levels are we seeing some acceptance of the plan?
Ms. Cléroux: The framework was endorsed by the clerk of the government and each deputy minister must now
ensure that there is accountability, as per the framework, within the annual report. Since the framework was only
approved last fall, Environment Canada has presented a draft to oversee coordination across all government
departments. The draft sets out minimum, specific components that each department must include in its annual report
on plans and priorities, to ensure that the various departments are in compliance with the framework.
Senator Tardif: Does the framework also identify priorities, as Mr. Moffet noted?
Ms. Cléroux: The particular framework to which we are referring is much more general in nature. Mr. Moffet is
responsible for identifying priority areas for action, in terms of CEPA's application.
Mr. Glover was referring to the different priorities of Health Canada, but there are also other pieces of legislation
which call out for a framework for action.
Mr. Moffet's team ensures that in the case of each act for which we are responsible, a framework for action and
priorities is identified. Obviously, our key focus is the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, as it is the most
comprehensive piece of legislation.
Other acts that come to mind include the wildlife and fisheries legislation. They also require frameworks for action
and this is Mr. Moffet's area of responsibility. The sustainable development management plan framework, on the other
hand, is the responsibility of the assistant deputy minister, policies and strategies. Ultimately, this area remains the
overall responsibility of the Deputy Minister of Environment Canada.
Senator Tardif: I was mainly interested in whether or not the framework had been implemented.
The Chairman: Before I go to the second list, Mr. Moffet, you undertook to send us a list of one kind. Will it include
a reference that was made by you or Mr. Glover earlier as to where we might find specifically in the act a definition of
what is meant by ``toxic?'' I take it from what you said that it is not necessarily consistent with the generally publicly
understood meaning of the word. Before we go any further, we need to understand that definition clearly. We will not
take the time now, but you can refer us to the place where it is clearly defined.
Would you send us a list, too, of the substances that are on the list that we hear is mandated in September of 2006, in
whatever form that list exists? I gather it will be tabled as part of what is going on. It is mandated under the act. Have I
got that correct? Does it exist now? I presume that if it will be tabled in September, it exists now in some substance.
Ms. Cléroux: We will send you the different lists to which you refer. We will send you the information about when a
substance is named toxic. We will make sure that you have a comprehensive document.
The other thing that we could provide is the management responses to all the commissioners' reports that have been
issued. Every single time a commissioner issues a report — I am sorry, I should have thought of it, but I did not — we
issue a management response, which could be provided to you.
The Chairman: That would be helpful.
Ms. Cléroux: I presume, Mr. Glover, that we could provide it for both departments, as the case may be — it depends
on the report of the commissioner — but we could provide you with what Environment Canada has issued.
As for the specific question that you asked about the 23,000 substances, I will let Mr. Moffet answer that question.
The Chairman: I hate to ask for a list that is 23,000 substances long. Maybe a description of the list would do.
Mr. Moffet: We will provide you with a description of the the domestic substances list, DSL: how it was created,
what it represents, and a brief overview of the legal obligations to categorize that list.
The Chairman: That would help us in our homework.
From what I understand, 80 per cent of the chemicals used in Canadian commerce is imported, or some significant
percentage. When they are imported and used in commerce in Canada, and they become subject to CEPA, for
whatever reason and by whatever designation, do we do tests which, for all intents and purposes, duplicate tests done
elsewhere, in the place from which we import those chemicals? If so, are those tests necessary? If not, can we find some
way to streamline the process by using that information, taking it into account and somehow speeding things up by
that means, as Senator Angus has said?
Ms. Cléroux: My two colleagues will complete the information. We have taken one position in the department to
make sure that if a substance has been evaluated and assessed scientifically in another country, using an approach that
is similar to what we would do, we will rely on the work that has been done. They have done it with an approach that is
similar to what we would do if we were to do it. We are satisfied with the way they have done the work, and we will rely
on the work that has been done.
We do everything we can to avoid duplicating the work in other countries when it is done in a manner that is similar
to what Canadians expect.
Mr. Glover: To follow up on that answer, CEPA requires us to look at decisions from other jurisdictions, so we do
that as a matter of course. For those countries with which we have written agreements, and where we are confident that
the science is done to standards we are required to mee, they will use our assessments and we will use theirs. For
example, there are OECD guidelines for tests, and good laboratory practice. An exchange does occur. It then must be
looked at with respect to its potential for exposure. Climate differences and population density differences are taken
into consideration. The short answer is that we have reciprocal agreements with other countries. We are required to
look at decisions of other jurisdictions, and we work closely and collaboratively with other countries to avoid
The Chairman: It would be reasonable to assume, then, that an application made by someone in Canadian
commerce to import a new substance, or something which contains a new substance, would spend less time being
examined in Canada before it is put into commerce than would be the case if it had not been examined in Europe or the
Mr. Glover: Unfortunately, the answer is no. One would think that would be the case, but then we must look at that
and ask: Will the use in Canada be similar to the use in the other country? We have to make sure that we can put it into
the Canadian context. Sometimes we can do that quickly; other times it is more complex. We cannot make that
The same is true of something that is brand new. We can look at it and quickly determine that we do not like it,
andthere are properties about it we are not comfortable with. Others take more time. The substance, its use, and the
richness of the science determines how quickly we are able to move.
I am sorry it is not simpler, but that is the reality.
The Chairman: You mentioned that we have in CEPA a sort of hammer to use if other jurisdictions — and, I do not
want to cause a constitutional rift here — either neglect or omit to do the job that they ought to do. Whether or not it is
referred to specifically in CEPA, the feds can lower the hammer and say, ``You guys did not take care of it sufficiently.
We are going to do it.''
Has that ever happened?
Mr. Moffet: The short answer is no. I should clarify that the authorities I referred to can be exercised only with
respect to domestic sources of either air pollution or water pollution, where that pollution either impacts on a foreign
country or violates an international agreement to which Canada is a party. It is not any environmental issue; it is a
specific environmental issue with an international impact.
The Chairman: If a province that has a first responsibility to deal with questions of pollution in resource
applications, for example, omits to do what is seen by us, by CEPA, and by everyone else to be proper — I am making
a scenario that does not exist; it is entirely hypothetical — there is no means by which, under CEPA, another authority
can impose itself over that municipal, provincial, territorial jurisdiction. Is that correct? That is, unless it crosses a
boundary or is being brought in from outside, as you said.
Mr. Blasioli: Not in the exact words that you have used. As you know, the environment is an area of shared
jurisdiction. The government can use the act and its authorities when it sees fit or necessary. In a scenario such as the
one you raised, where the release of a substance is not being addressed, the act is there to be used and it can address the
indelicate inaction of provinces in that area.
The Chairman: Even if this whole thing is entirely internal to Canada?
Mr. Blasioli: Internal to Canada or a province?
The Chairman: A province or a territory.
Mr. Blasioli: Yes.
The Chairman: But that has never happened.
Ms. Cléroux: We need to clarify something. I will use an example.
We recently published the Environmental Pollution Prevention Plan for emissions from base metals smelters.
We require the companies with base metal smelters across the country to commit voluntarily to reaching certain
thresholds of emissions by certain dates. In that prevention plan, we indicate that if the government is not satisfied by
the measures taken voluntarily, emissions could be regulated. For now, we are taking a voluntary approach, but we
could proceed to a regulation. Everyone knows the target. The targets are set for a few years from now so that facilities
can adjust the different processes or add different equipment.
For a long period of time, these same companies, as you all know, are physically located in different provinces.
Different provinces thought they would regulate the different emissions of those metal smelters. Different conditions
and different jobs are related to those facilities. In previous decisions, people waited for the provinces to act. Because
the situation was seen by the federal government as not satisfactory, the federal government decided to use the power
of CEPA to implement it. Negotiation, as you can understand, with the different provinces that are involved have been
continuous. It involved taking into account the different positions of the provinces, but, in the end, the federal
government had to make a decision about whether they were going ahead, and what threshold would be established.
We now have a national threshold: not one for Manitoba, a different one for Ontario and a different one for Nova
Scotia. Maybe there are no base metal smelters in those provinces — for Nova Scotia, I am not sure. However, this
principle has been applied, but it is not a principle that is systematic. It is not something where we have decided that we
will use CEPA on any kind of industry, or any kind of facilities. We will systematically use the possibilities that CEPA
offers, depending on the issue.
The question that I think most of us understood at the beginning was this: If the federal government feels that a
given jurisdiction, with its own regulation, is not going in a direction where the federal government would go, what can
the federal government do? Can we intervene? The answer is no, if we have not put in place the national tool, to be able
to say: This is the standard that we expect to be met across the country and if it is not met, we will intervene. We have
the possibility of having equivalency agreements with that jurisdiction. If we were in an overlapping regulation with a
given province that has an equivalent regulation in place — if we feel that their regulation has a similar outcome that
we expect from ours — we can have that equivalency agreement.
When we sign such an equivalency agreement, we have provision in the act that if, at a given moment, we feel that
the work by a province is not of an equivalent outcome to the work of the federal government, we could intervene, but
we must have that overarching responsibility; otherwise, we cannot act. We have to make the statement that the federal
government has the overarching responsibility.
Because it is a shared responsibility, the majority of the actions have been taken as generalities. At the federal level,
we have regulated what is interprovincial: emissions that could go over the borders of two provinces, or transboundary
emissions with the United States or other countries, which involve all the international treaties in place. We have not
been involved so much with a facility or emission directly in a province.
Some provinces prefer that we work together. Also, industry often asks us to have a level Canadian playing field so
we need to have that overarching approach.
The other approach that has been in place for a few years has been a Canada-wide standard, that is the product of a
consensus between the 10 provinces, the three territories, and the federal government. There are 14 officials around the
table and when a consensus is reached on a topic of concern, we want to be able to target it. Work is done through the
Canadian Council of Ministers on the Environment, CCME, and the work concludes with the release of a Canada-
wide standard. All jurisdictions commit to meet this standard and ensure that their own jurisdiction complies with that
A wide range of complementary tools have been used to address different issues. I do not know if my colleagues
want to add anything, but it is a wide range. It is difficult for us to answer with a small answer because, depending on
the topic you target, another tool might be chosen.
The Chairman: Big answers are good. Thank you.
Mr. Moffet: I want to clarify one additional point to clarify, Mr. Chairman.
Recalling my statement that most of the stakeholders asserted that the act is fundamentally sound — in other words
it provides the authorities we need — there are a lot of authorities in this act and one of them that is buried in the
middle of the act provides the ministers of the environment and health with the authority to issue an interim order. If
the ministers are satisfied that a substance poses significant danger to the environment or to human health, and
immediate action is required, the ministers can issue an order themselves. The order then has to be approved within
two weeks by cabinet to continue to stay in effect. If the ministers determine that, for any reason immediate action is
required to protect human health or the environment, they have that authority within the act.
Ms. Cléroux: Because we are in a federation, we always talk with the province that is responsible for the area where
the problem occurs. It does not preclude that the ministers will conclude to use their authorities, but it is never done
without having a fulsome discussion with the province where that problem occurs.
Senator Cochrane: You said that you have some written agreements at times with various countries, in regard to
their scientific evidence and their conclusions. Do you have a written agreement with the U.S. as to some of their
conclusions with regards to toxic chemicals?
Mr. Glover: The short answer is yes. We work closely with them and we collaborate on work plans. We share
Ms. Cléroux: We also have an Assistant Deputy Minister in our equivalent counterpart committee to the U.S. that
meets every six months to compare where we are with the assessment and what new information can be shared. It is an
open channel put in place with our colleagues from the U.S. to ensure that we have a flowing relationship with our U.S.
Senator Cochrane: So that scientific work will not become redundant?
Ms. Cléroux: We try our best. I am not saying that we are successful all the time, but I can tell you that all the teams
do everything they can to prevent redundancy.
Senator Cochrane: I understand that the U.S. has just reached an agreement with companies in the U.S. to phase out
perfluorooctanoic acid and derivatives, PFOAs. PFOAs are toxic, harmful chemicals used in non-stick frying pans and
stain and water repellents in upholstery. I understand these toxic chemicals cause certain types of cancer, and
neurological and reproductive defects as well. Can you tell the committee what Canada's position is on these PFOAs,
and what actions have been taken to this point?
Mr. Moffet: I believe the U.S. has issued a challenge to industry, and industry has responded positively to the
challenge. I am not sure there is a formally documented agreement yet.
Both Health Canada and Environment Canada have completed risk assessments. The conclusions of the risk
assessments and statements about the risk-management path forward are imminent.
Senator Cochrane: So what are we doing?
Mr. Glover: First, let me clarify, the United States has not declared those things harmful. They have a draft
assessment out, and in their language they are called ``suspect,'' which means they have not fully completed their
assessment on those substances.
Two important factors dictate how we respond in Canada. First, we are working to complete the assessments of
these things. We have taken action on new substances that have come forward. There are many existing.
The fundamental difference between Canada and the United States with this particular issue is that the United
States makes the substances and we do not.
Senator Cochrane: We use them.
Mr. Glover: Very little is imported for use in Canada. The amount imported in this raw form to Canada to be used
in the manufacturing process is exceedingly small.
The challenge that the Americans have put forward is one that applies to all the companies that operate worldwide.
Dupont in the States is obliged to do the same in Canada. Dupont has already met with us and said they will meet the
same standards here as in the United States. The issue is not the manufacturing of the substance in Canada, it is a
product issue; it is where those products are made. We are taking the exact same path the Americans are taking, which
is encouraging industry to move to safer alternatives over a period of time as we come to an appropriate conclusion on
Ms. Cléroux: We may be confusing the word ``product'' and ``substances.'' Canada has the saleable product, or the
finished product. The States has the source product that is included to create the finished product. We are not
producing that. We have to pay attention with the words we use.
Senator Cochrane: At the same time, we use these products in Canada. Where are the warnings that these chemicals
are dangerous? We use Teflon frying pans. Last week on television I watched an advertisement where a man poured
ketchup on the shirt and it did not stain. Are you telling me there are no toxic chemicals in that? Oh yes there are.
So what are we doing? Our people use these products.
Ms. Cléroux: I cannot specifically answer any of those questions. We can provide you with the detailed information.
We must always pay attention to the source of the chemical that will be used to produce a saleable product. Once it
reaches a saleable form, we must determine whether it will release any possible substances harmful to human beings
into the environment. Can we be exposed to those chemicals when it becomes a finished product? Often the answer will
be ``no,'' when it is a finished product. I am talking about a frying pan, which is a bad example.
With a frying pan, for instance, often the harmful exposure is to the chemical when it is released into the
environment while manufacturing the finished product. The harmful exposure is in the components used to make the
item, not the item itself.
In the example you refer to, I am sorry but I am not an expert and I cannot answer on that example specifically. The
question of whether chemicals are released into the environment once the product becomes a frying pan is something
we could provide an answer to in written form because I do not possess that expertise.
Senator Spivak: I will not go into that issue because it raises the whole question of consumer products in relation to
CEPA, and that is an area that we should know more about.
First, 45 per cent of Canada's air pollution is in the Great Lakes area. Does CEPA have a response to that issue, or
is a response needed?
Second, the issue of endocrine disrupters and reproductive and neurological toxins had been raised a while ago.
Where does that issue stand now?
Ms. Cléroux: I will answer the first question, and Mr. Glover will answer the second one.
As you can imagine, the Great Lakes is the most densified area we have in Canada.
Senator Spivak: There are 60 million people in that area.
Ms. Cléroux: It may not be equivalent to the U.S., but it is a highly densified area when you add our colleagues
south of the border.
CEPA, on its own, will not be able to change anything about the different exposures the two countries are creating
in that very dense area. However, a series of actions have been put in place. We have many agreements with our
colleagues in the United States, with regard to both transboundary air issues and water issues. We have different action
plans in place, as well as ongoing discussions, to go further with the different actions taken to reduce some of those
CEPA gives us the necessary priorities to act. Now in the works are the different implementations and actions that
are to follow.
CEPA, on its own, will not make a difference. The implementation we have put in place by way of a series of actions
to correct and address the issue will.
Mr. Glover: With respect to the second question, the act calls for the Minister of Health to conduct research in the
area of endocrine disrupters. It is something we continue to do, and we publish results about the science we are
conducting to better understand that issue. We continue to be involved in an ongoing process to better identify those
triggers and identify the types of substances that have those properties. Then we can incorporate that data into the risk
assessments as they come forward. It is a central part of the work we do, and it is ongoing.
Senator Spivak: That has been ongoing for years.
Mr. Glover: Correct.
Senator Spivak: The initial concern dealt with birds found, feminization and beaks. It has been going on for a long
time. Are there still no definite conclusions?
Mr. Glover: As we move forward, we have been able to identify some substances, triggers if you will, that allow us to
better assess substances that come forward and identify them as leading to reproductive problems. The information has
integrated its way into CEPA and our assessment.
We cannot say we have concluded on reproductive toxins and other things that we are required to do. That science
will always evolve. There has been what we call knowledge transfer from the research into how we do our risk
assessments, and that knowledge transfer has helped us with conclusions on a number of assessments.
The Chairman: All comparisons are odious. The political situation in the United States, the political divisions and
divisions of responsibility under the Constitution are different from ours.
We have been told that some states, in particular the border states in the areas surrounding the Great Lakes, have
taken more efficient measures in respect of reducing air pollution from industrial undertakings than Canadian
counterpart emitters. We have been told that Canadian counterpart emitters, major industrial emitters, emit in that
part of North America something on the order of 80 or 90 per cent more undesirable toxic emissions into the air than
come from their United States counterparts. This situation is largely because of state-level scrubbing and the like.
Do you have any response to such a statement?
Ms. Cléroux: Mr. Moffet will begin to answer your question, and I will complete it.
Mr. Moffet: I believe you are referring to recent reports from the North American Commission for Environmental
Cooperation that the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, CEC, has publicized. Certainly a number of non-
governmental organizations have publicized them as well.
I think those reports compare the regulatory standards that exist at the state and provincial levels. They also
compare the levels of emissions of certain common air pollutants from relatively comparable facilities.
Indeed, it is my understanding from reading those reports that there are cases where comparable facilities in Canada
emit in excess of their American counterparts. At the moment, those emissions are regulated primarily by provincial
A question for the committee is whether those permit regimes ought to be addressed by federal legislation and
The Chairman: Thank you very much. We have kept you beyond the time we have suggested. We are grateful for
your patience with us, for your instruction, for answering our questions and for the suggestions you have offered.
Notwithstanding how intrusive we have been on your time, I hope you will come back and visit us again when we
know more about what we have been talking about.