Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
I’m very pleased to be here today with Ministers Ambrose and Clement and Parliamentary Secretary Warawa, to announce another major initiative by Canada’s New Government to protect and improve our environment.
Before I begin, I’d like to acknowledge some other very important people who are with us:
They all have a major stake in the new initiative we are announcing today.
Finally, I’d like to thank Dr. Virginia Salares, who just gave me a tour of a toxics-free model home for people who suffer from acute chemical sensitivity.
Today’s announcement will be of particular interest to them.
When we took office, we promised to replace environmental talk with environmental action. Action that’s practical, realistic and actually delivers results – because results are what matter.
That’s why we moved quickly to boost public transit in our first budget.
Why we set new benchmarks for the use of renewable fuel.
Why we cracked down on the release of mercury into the environment.
And why we set out targets for reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions for the first time ever in Canada, in our Clean Air Act.
All these initiatives reflect our commitment to a healthier environment for all Canadians.
And today we are unveiling the next major element of our environmental agenda: Canada’s new Chemicals Management Plan.
This plan, which I am announcing today, includes realistic and enforceable measures that will substantially increase protection of Canadians from dangerous chemicals.
In fact, it will make Canada a world leader in the testing and regulation of chemicals that are used in thousands of industrial and consumer products.
Now chemicals, of course, are part of the natural environment. They’re in the foods we eat, the fluids we drink and the air we breathe.
Most are benign. In the right volumes and combinations, they are the building blocks of life itself.
And in the hands of our scientists, engineers and industrialists, chemicals are manipulated to improve the quality of our lives, to increase food production, to cure illness, and to bring us many of the comforts and conveniences of modern life.
But some chemicals are inherently dangerous and can remain so for a long time; they must be carefully managed and regulated.
This is what our Chemicals Management Plan is all about.
Over the next four years, we will tighten regulations and accelerate risk assessment for thousands of chemicals.
Our plan will require substantial investment of public funds, but in the long run it will save money by reducing expenditures on public health and the clean-up of contaminated land and water.
While Canada has always been responsible when it comes to chemical management, I’m proud to say that we will become a world leader because of today’s announcement.
Although since 1994, new chemical substances produced or imported into our country have been subject to rigorous assessment by federal government scientists, some 23,000 "legacy" chemicals have not undergone the assessment required of new substances.
All developed countries face the same challenge, and all have committed to safely manage chemicals by 2020.
Canada has now become the first country in the world to achieve full categorization of our legacy chemicals.
We are ahead of America and Europe, and Canada’s New Government is committed to keeping our nation at the forefront of health and environmental protection.
Our chemicals management plan is the next step in the process.
Ministers Ambrose and Clement have worked very hard on this plan, so I’ll ask them to fill you in on the details.