Bill S-5, Strengthening Environmental Protection for a Healthier Canada Act, received Royal Assent. This is a landmark step in keeping the environment and Canadians safe and healthy.
The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) is one of Canada’s core environmental laws to fight pollution and protect the environment and Canadians from its effects. CEPA provides the tools to address a wide range of pollution sources, including from chemicals, biotechnology products, vehicles, engines, fuels, hazardous wastes, and environmental emergencies. Over the years, actions under CEPA have:
- Prohibited the manufacture, import, and sale of six single-use plastic items, a significant step forward in our comprehensive strategy to prevent plastic waste and pollution.
- Prevented the release of plastic microbeads from toiletries that wash down household drains and contribute to plastic pollution in oceans, rivers, and lakes.
- Banned asbestos and products containing asbestos, as exposure to asbestos fibres is known to cause cancer and other diseases.
- Taken action on BPA (bisphenol A) by banning the manufacture, importation, sale, or advertising of polycarbonate baby bottles that contain BPA.
This is the first set of comprehensive amendments to CEPA in over 20 years, to:
- Better protect vulnerable populations who are most impacted by pollution.
- Advance Indigenous reconciliation by confirming the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples including free, prior, and informed consent, and the role of Indigenous knowledge in decision-making related to the protection of the environment and human health, and by adding new reporting requirements.
- Require a new Plan of Chemicals Management Priorities, increase the assessment of cumulative effects of exposure to multiple chemicals, and develop a Watch List to support the shift to safer chemicals.
- Promote the development and implementation of scientifically justified alternative testing methods and strategies to reduce reliance on vertebrate animal testing.
- Incorporate an environmental purpose into the Food and Drugs Act (FDA) so that environmental risks resulting from drugs can be managed and so that a modernized environmental regulatory framework for drugs can be developed under the FDA.
The amendments also, for the first time at the federal level, recognize the right to a healthy environment in Canada when administering CEPA, providing a solid foundation on which to continue taking action across the country on delivering a strong, healthy future for everyone who calls this country home.