Chemical Regulation

Canada moves to update environmental protection regulations

by Sharon Oosthoek, special to C&EN
July 5, 2018 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 96, ISSUE 28


The Canadian government has renewed its pledge to strengthen the way it regulates harmful substances, but legislative changes are unlikely before the next federal election in October 2019. Last year, the House of Commons environment committee urged substantial changes to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, which is designed to protect human and environmental health through regulations around chemical management and air pollution. In a June 29 follow-up report, Canada’s minister for environment and climate change, Catherine McKenna, said that the Trudeau administration agrees with many of the committee’s recommendations. Those recommendations include reversing the burden of proof onto industry for demonstrating the safety of “substances of very high concern,” similar to Europe’s REACH program. The government will consult with “industry, civil society, Indigenous Peoples and others” to update the legislation, McKenna said. In the meantime, the government is working to make changes that don’t require legislation. For example, it is developing a policy framework for considering vulnerable populations—such as children, pregnant women, and the elderly—in the assessment and management of chemicals. It is also working on mandatory labeling for products containing toxic chemicals.


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