Canada Strengthens Environmental Laws
October 6, 2023
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has announced major updates with the passing of Bill S-5 (June 2023), Strengthening Environmental Protection for a Healthier Canada Act. The Government presents this bill as modernizing the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, (CEPA) which is one of Canada’s core environmental laws to fight pollution and protect the environment and Canadians from its effects. This bill aligns with a global trend of many countries passing laws defining the “right to a healthy environment” as a fundamental right of every citizen. There is a growing consensus of Canadians expecting the same right.
About Bill S-5
At the core of the bill is the recognition of individual Canadian’s right to a healthy environment and protecting the health of vulnerable populations. This includes Canadians who may be at greater risk of exposure or more susceptible to the effects of chemicals, such as pregnant women, children, and the elderly, as well as Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities close to major sources of pollution. The bill also establishes a stronger basis for action on assessing and regulating toxic substances in Canada.
This is the first significant change to CEPA in over 20 years and responds to a changing global chemicals landscape and consideration of new science. Chemicals have become a bigger part of our daily lives and our economy. The science and understanding of the risks associated with hazardous chemicals has not kept pace with industry’s production of new chemicals.
About the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA)
CEPA is the cornerstone of Canada’s environmental protection laws concerning pollution prevention, and the protection of the environment and human health. CEPA collects information from the industry on how chemicals are being used in Canada. The act assesses new and existing substances to determine regulations to reduce risk to the environment and human health. It establishes a list of chemical inventories which are updated regularly for authorized use in Canada called the Domestic Substances List.
Recent Achievements of CEPA Legislation
Some recent wins for the environment and human health from CEPA legislation include:
- Ban of microbeads from toiletry products.
- Ban on single-use plastics.
- Profit from the use and import of asbestos.
- Phase out the testing of chemicals on animals.
Future legislation in development includes chemical regulations for mandatory product labelling for cosmetics, household cleaning products and flame retardants in upholstery.
Canadian industry and the public can expect more developments from CEPA to protect the health and safety of Canadians and the environment by reducing our exposure to many chemicals that we cannot see, and that most of us cannot pronounce. We can also reduce our chemical exposure by eliminating or substituting hazardous chemicals we use in our daily lives or at work.
How Chemscape’s Software Is Adapting to These Changes
Chemscape customers can save time and use sdsBinders / CHAMP to find chemicals to report. A new regulatory list has been added called CEPA Chemicals Management Plan 2023. Part 1-4 are combined into one Regulatory List; the reportable quantity or application differs between the parts.
For more information on how chemicals can enter our homes, watch our video How to Prevent Take Home Exposure from Chemicals at Work.