Renewal of the Chemicals Management Plan

Canada’s cornerstone initiative for protecting human health and the environment from pollution and toxic chemicals is sunsetting in March 2021. With compelling scientific research underscoring the connection between toxic chemical exposure and chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes and cancer, and growing evidence of a strong link between toxic pollution and more severe COVID-19 outcomes, continued investment in a renewed CMP at current funding levels is vital for our public and ecosystem health.

Exposure to toxic chemicals in the air, water and consumer products, is increasingly linked to the rise of chronic illnesses in Canada. As the world grapples with recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, leading researchers from reputable academic institutions have published research demonstrating a compelling connection between our exposure to pollutants and illnesses such as diabetes, COPD, hypertension, and heart disease, which are risk factors for severe sickness from COVID-19 and even mortality. These scientific revelations make clear that Canada’s investment in pollution prevention is key to reduce chronic disease burden and foster resilience when faced with public health crises such as pandemics.

By 2021 the federal government anticipates it will complete the task of assessing 4,300 chemicals prioritized through the categorization process in 2006. But the job of protecting Canadians from the risks of chemicals will be far from complete. A recent parliamentary review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act as well as several evaluations conducted by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada have revealed important gaps in the implementation of the CMP.

As a result of the review of CEPA by the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development in 2017, the federal government has committed to strengthening the Act and better addressing the risks of toxic substances. The renewal of the CMP is vital to the effective implementation of a modernized CEPA.

Furthermore, since the beginning of the CMP, Canadians and the environment have faced significant new threats that the current program has been unequipped to address. From plastic pollution and widespread exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals to regrettable substitution and the rise of e-commerce and emergence of tens of thousands of new substances. The renewal of the CMP would enable government departments to tackle these issues as well as other priorities identified by the government in its CMP post-2020 stakeholder consultations over the last few years such as the reassessment of certain chemicals to consider vulnerable populations, including workers, and new science on potential harms and exposure.

Recommended  investment:
$100 million annually, starting in 2021-22 and ongoing
[ECCC, HC]

CONTACTS
Muhannad Malas –mmalas@environmentaldefence.ca
Elaine MacDonald – emacdonald@ecojustice.ca