Government's legislation on toxics bad for people's health

    TORONTO, June 3 /CNW/ - A law aimed at protecting the health of people in
Ontario by reducing harmful toxic substances doesn't go far enough, says a top
nursing group.
    Bill 167, the Toxics Reduction Act, passed today without the crucial
amendments the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) and other
organizations say are needed to guarantee families and individuals safe
working and living environments.
    When the government announced its legislation back in April, RNAO
welcomed the bill, but warned that changes would be required to ensure the
bill's effectiveness in coaxing businesses to reduce their reliance on harmful
and toxic substances. Since that announcement, an all-party committee
reviewing the legislation has heard from many groups, including RNAO, making
calls to strengthen the legislation.
    "We recommended the government set aggressive targets to reduce toxic
chemicals, mandatory substitution where safer alternatives exist, and the
creation of an institute to support business and community to reach their
reduction goals," says RNAO President Wendy Fucile. "Since the bill is modeled
on the successful Massachusetts toxics program, the government's own expert
panel advised including key features of that program, such as targets and an
institute. We don't understand why this advice was ignored."
    "We were expecting far more up-front to deal seriously with the huge
quantities of toxic substances companies use, create and release in their
manufacturing processes. At this point, the bill remains all promise when
what's needed is urgent action," adds Fucile.
    RNAO's Executive Director Doris Grinspun says nurses are extremely
disappointed because Ontario is one of the worst offenders when it comes to
toxic pollution, and these releases are linked in the scientific literature to
cancer, birth defects, and medical conditions such as Parkinson's. "People's
health is at stake and they're demanding action from our government. We can't
afford to waste any more time on this critical health issue, we need immediate
government action."
    Even though the legislation is expected to be proclaimed into law this
week, Grinspun says RNAO will be demanding a transparent process with public
input to deliver strong regulations to fill the gaps. "Though we are
disappointed with the legislation, we will work very hard with government on
the regulations to roll back this toxic tide and protect the public."

    The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional
association representing registered nurses wherever they practise in Ontario.
Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in
nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health-care
system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.

For further information:

For further information: Marion Zych, Director of Communications,
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO), Phone: (647) 406-5605 -
cellular, (416) 408-5605 - office

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