OTTAWA, Ontario – The Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (CPCA) is reporting that the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development tabled a report in Canada’s House of Commons to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA, 1999). If accepted by the government, the report’s recommendations would mean a complete overhaul of the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) in Canada even though the CMP has been widely applauded by governments around the world. In fact, several countries have adopted or will be adopting a similar approach to chemical assessment including the United States, Brazil and Australia.
Canada’s approach to chemicals management over the past 10 years is an evidenced-based assessment of chemicals in commerce using the latest scientific data to determine a chemical’s potential risk to human health and the environment. Once such a determination is made, risk management measures are taken, such as regulations, to control that risk. “The CMP approach is completely in line with the Liberal Government’s focus on evidenced-based decisions with respect to public policy and programs,” commented Gary LeRoux, President and CEO of the CPCA. He further added that, “Even though the CMP process of assessing chemicals is onerous and costly for industry, our member companies believe it is the right thing to do to protect Canadians while delivering highly performing products for such things as controlling mold, preventing corrosion and preserving assets, all which they have come to expect.”
CPCA and other industry associations continue to support the federal government in its current approach to implementing the CMP based on the best available science and have been encouraged by ongoing innovations to assess a large quantity of chemicals. However, many of the Standing Committee’s recommendations suggest a departure from a proven process for chemicals management in Canada, moving to a hazard-based approach instead of a comprehensive assessment based on risk.
CPCA does not support such an approach, which is similar to the one used in Europe under REACH. That process has been widely criticized for being time consuming, costly and inefficient.
Many in industry echo CPCA’s concerns, saying they hope that the lack of balance does not lead Canada down the same rocky road on which the EU now finds itself with chemicals management. There is evidence of this in the current report with a strong focus on the views of NGOs related to a large majority of the recommendations, which seem to ignore the science. Moving in this direction would not serve anyone’s interests with respect to human health and the environment.
The Official Opposition section of the Report noted that, “Had this study been more focused and more time been allocated to receiving critical testimony, this Report could have represented another step forward in improving the rigor of Canada’s environmental protection regime.”