The Toxic Substances Management Policy of the Canadian Federal Government puts forward a preventive and precautionary approach to deal with substances that enter the environment and could harm the environment or human health. The political results of stakeholder consultations, held between September 1994 and April 1995, after the publication of the federal government working paper for the policy of toxic substances management and the complementary document Criteria for selection of substances for disposal Virtual.
Ensuring that federal programs are consistent with its objectives, the policy provides decision makers with direction and sets out a management framework. It will also be the centerpiece of the federal government’s position with regard to the management of toxic substances in discussions with the provinces and territories and negotiations with the world community.
The two key management objectives were:
- elimination from the environment of toxic substances that result predominantly from human activity and those which are persistent and bio accumulative (track 1)
- management of other toxic substances and substances of concern throughout their life cycle to prevent or minimize their release into the environment (track 2)
Although socio-economic factors have no impact on the ultimate goal for a Track 1 substance – its virtual elimination from the environment – we will take into account to determine and implement risk management measurements within the framework of the policy. For example, they help clarify the interim targets, appropriate management strategies and timelines. Socio-economic factors will help determine long-term environmental goals, objectives, strategies and timelines for the Track 2 substances.
Many of the goods and services we rely on, use or discharge substances that may have adverse effects on the environment or human health. We found that if we do not manage the risks associated with these substances, we may have to deal with very expensive or almost impossible to correct problems. Scientific studies have shown that this was the case particularly of substances resulting from human activity and that are toxic, persistent (which decompose slowly) and bioaccumulative (accumulate in living organisms).
As science is not always possible to predict accurately the effects of a substance on the environment or human health, more effective management of toxic substances requires a proactive and cost-effective approach to prevent pollution rather than reacting after the fact.
The Toxic Substances Management Policy of the Federal Government puts forward a preventive and precautionary approach to deal with substances that enter the environment and could harm the environment or human health. Ensure that federal programs are consistent with its objectives, the policy provides decision makers with a plan.
The federal government already administers several programs to reduce or eliminate the threat posed by toxic substances. This policy emphasizes the need to apply the principles of pollution prevention in all these programs and to respond to growing public pressure, which is that the government protects the environment and human health while creating jobs and opportunities in the economy.
The policy provides scientific decision-making framework for the effective management of toxic substances that are of concern because they are or may be used and released into the environment or because Canadians may be exposed through the environment.
The policy guides federal regulatory and non-regulatory programs by defining the ultimate goal of management for a given substance. It applies to areas of federal jurisdiction, given the distribution of legislative powers between the federal, provincial and territorial governments.
It considers that a substance is intended for a systematic assessment of whether federal, provincial or international or Canadians have considered potentially harmful to the environment or human health.
A substance is considered toxic if, after rigorous scientific assessment, it is consistent or equivalent to the definition of “toxic” from the Canadian Act, Environmental Protection Act (CEPA).
Other substances that do not meet the definition of “toxic under CEPA” or “equivalent toxic under CEPA ” may be of concern because of their potential to harm the environment or human health. These substances may be the subject of a management response to these concerns or specific obligations. These substances of concern will be determined through scientific assessments. It could be, for example, substances subject to special regulations (such as new substances in the Information Regulations New Substances of CEPA ), substances managed under federal-provincial agreements ( such as nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds that are managed as smog precursors) and substances managed in accordance with international commitments (such as sulfur oxides that contribute to acid rain).
The policy recognizes the need to apply a cautious approach to identifying substances and implementing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.
Since toxic substances or substances of concern can originate from Canada or abroad, actions Canada must be supported by international measures to protect the Canadian environment. Canada acting as a leader in the development of international activities, the policy will be the centerpiece of its position with regard to the management of toxic substances in the negotiations with the world community.