Ontario Passes First Toxics Reduction Act in Canada

    Groups look to regulations for further toxics reduction

    TORONTO, June 3 /CNW/ - Environmental Defence and United Steelworkers,
working together through Blue Green Canada, applauded all parties in the
Ontario Legislature for passage of the Toxics Reduction Act today.
    "We commend Ontario for being the first province in Canada to pass a
toxics reduction law," said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director, Environmental
Defence. "We look forward to the government creating regulations quickly to
strengthen the Act's health and environmental protections, and contribute to
the creation of green jobs."
    A key commitment under the Act is to reduce Ontarians' exposures to toxic
substances by requiring businesses that employ 10 or more people and involve
10,000 kg or more of specific substances to report and track harmful chemicals
and develop pollution prevention plans. Like a successful law in
Massachusetts, the implementation of these plans is voluntary.
    While the groups are pleased the Act has passed, they would like to see
strong regulations so that the bill adequately protects Ontarians from
hazardous substances.
    "It is crucial now that regulations be brought in that cover occupational
issues within the Toxics Reduction Act," said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers
National Director of Canada. "They must break down the silo between the
Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Environment and require employers to
inventory the potentially dangerous chemicals used in the workplace."
    Other key areas that need to be addressed by the regulations include the
establishment of a list of safer alternatives to hazardous substances and a
toxics reduction institute to support reduction initiatives, as well as the
application of the law to sewage treatment plants to provide incentive for
municipalities to prevent pollution through effective sewage control by-laws.
Blue Green Canada also expressed hope that the government would lower the
reporting thresholds to ensure more polluters are included in the bill's
    "This Act is a huge step forward," said Smith. "We're hopeful the
regulations will address critical issues that will really make Ontario a
leader in toxics reduction."

    About Environmental Defence (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental
Defence protects the environment and human health. We research solutions. We
educate. We go to court when we have to. All in order to ensure clean air,
clean water and thriving ecosystems nationwide, and to bring a halt to
Canada's contribution to climate change.

    About United Steelworkers (www.uswa.ca): The United Steelworkers (USW) is
an international union with a highly diverse membership in many sectors of the
Canadian economy. It actively promotes the interests of its members through
collective bargaining and political action. It is a well-known advocate for
workplace health and safety and human rights, and has long embraced the need
to address environmental issues.

    About Blue Green Canada (www.bluegreencanada.ca): Blue Green Canada is an
alliance between the United Steelworkers and Environmental Defence to support
the development of good green jobs as part of a new green economy.

For further information:

For further information: or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232, (647)
280-9521 (cell); Bob Gallagher, United Steelworkers, (416) 544-5966, (416)
434-2221 (cell)

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