November 8, 2004

Dion urges closer co-operation between chemical industry, government

Federal Environment Minister St√ąphane Dion has called on the chemical industry to work more closely with government to achieve the goals set out in the recent Speech from the Throne and to help meet the challenge of competitiveness and environmental sustainability.

Addressing a recent meeting of the Canadian Chemical Producers Association (CCPA) in Ottawa, Dion noted that chemical producers have made impressive progress with their initiatives to voluntarily reduce the release of toxic substances. At the same time, however, more work by both the industry and the government is needed.

"We have to notch up our joint action considerably when both the OECD and the Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development have gone so far as to tell us recently that our environmental performance is not as good as it could be. In terms of the management of chemical products, the OECD is of the view that we need to set more specific timetables, provide adequate long-term funding for our programs and improve our regulatory instruments," Dion said.

"Government will continue to assess risks based on sound science, and industry must play its role by bringing forward the scientific information on the chemicals it produces," he continued, adding that "such partnerships are vital to the development of optimal science and technology, and, using our ingenuity, we can ensure that safer chemicals are developed and marketed."

Dion said the need to continually improve performance is behind the most recent Speech from the Throne commitment to develop and implement policies that systematically integrate sustainable development into the government's decision making. This effort, he said, will be carried out under a new framework for competitiveness and environmental sustainability supported by five pillars:

* a better decision-making process engaging all sectors of society;

* better science to foster the effective development of policies and technologies;

* better information on environmental indicators, including risks, posed by existing and new chemicals;

* a clear and effective system of incentives and penalties; and

* better public education.

Development of this framework is important to the Prime Minister, who, Dion noted, is creating a new special Ad Hoc Committee on Environment and Sustainable Economy. Chaired by the Minister of Industry, the new committee will bring together not only the Minister of Environment, it will also include the Ministers of Fisheries and Oceans, Natural Resources, Health and the Minister of State (Infrastructure and Communities).

In concluding, the Minister told the CCPA, "we need to learn to work better together, both within the government and between government and its partners, in order to make Canada a champion of the new Industrial Revolution, that of the sustainable economy."

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