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ARCHIVED - Government Response to Proposed COA

IV - Harmful Pollutants Annex

Sound Management of Chemical Substances in the Great Lakes Basin: Comments received asked for details on the development of the Sound Management of Chemical Substances in the Great Lakes Basin:

  • What will be on the revised list of substances and/or how will it be developed?
  • Is the approach to action voluntary or regulatory?
  • What is the link to other similar initiatives?
  • Will the sector-based approach preclude substance specific actions?


  • The Government of Canada announced its Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) on December 8, 2006. The Government is actively working on the substances included under the CMP and will implement risk assessment and risk management activities to address CMP substances that are of concern within the Great Lakes Basin. In addition, Canada and Ontario will maintain active working connections with toxic management initiatives such as those under the Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy and the Commission for Environmental Cooperation
  • The Governments of Canada and Ontario will develop a revised list of substances for action in the Great Lakes Basin by 2010 in an effort to address substances of concern being identified or detected in the ecosystem. Development of this list will be informed by the CMP, consultation with other federal and provincial agencies, dialogue and cooperation with members of the Great Lakes community and through examination of various existing and emerging lists, the presence and significance of these substances in the basin.
  • Regulations are one tool available to the federal government for those substances identified as a concern under CEPA. For those substances of significance within the Great Lakes Basin, the federal government will rely on its risk management approach to identify regulatory and voluntary opportunities to be pursued in concert with other agencies and stakeholders. The intention of the program would be to have effective action developed and implemented through both regulations and a cooperative and voluntary relationship with the Great Lakes community.
  • The sector-based approach will not preclude reduction opportunities and projects for an identified substance.

Revisions to Annex 2: A number of suggested revisions and new goals, results and commitments were provided, with a particular focus on the Sound Management of Chemicals (Result 4). These include:

  • Importance of children's health
  • Timelines and targets for managing toxics
  • Process for coming up with a new list of substances for the Great Lakes basin
  • Chemicals use plans
  • Virtual elimination

Response: Careful consideration went into developing the goals, results and commitments outlined in Annex 2.

Result 4 demonstrates a commitment to develop and initiate a program for managing toxics in the basin with input from stakeholders. Consultation meetings with environmental non-governmental organizations and industry sector representatives were initiated in mid-May to ensure continuing dialogue and participation of stakeholders in the development and initiation of the program that will consider and address the comments received.

Human Health: A commenter asked how human health will be linked to environmental quality

Response: COA would place a greater emphasis on understanding and addressing human health risks from harmful pollutants in the Great Lakes Basin. Initiatives include: the development of a Health Science Framework which will help guide researchers and facilitate health science activities; environmental public health networks which will facilitate the sharing of health related information amongst the public health community within the Great Lakes Basin; and, implementation of Canada's Chemical Management Plan which will help to reduce human health risks due to toxic substances in the Great Lakes Basin.

Virtual Elimination - Targets and Timelines: A comment received suggested more emphasis should be placed on the objective of virtual elimination, including specific timelines and targets for reductions.

Response: Canada and Ontario have overseen significant reductions in the releases of Tier 1 substances compared to the base-year of 1988: mercury 86%, dioxins and furans 89%, and PCBs 89% (1993 baseline). The remaining Tier 1 substances are often from many dispersed sources such as small residential burnings or from locations outside the Basin. COA would continue to pursue the reduction of Tier 1 substances toward the goal of virtual elimination and expect to achieve further reductions in the Tier 1 substances by 2010. At the same time, depending on the implementation and outcomes of the CMP there may be other substances proposed for virtual elimination.

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