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ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report April 1998 to March 1999

Minister's Message

I am pleased to present this report on the implementation of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) from April 1, 1998 to March 31, 1999. The year saw a number of achievements about which you will read in the pages that follow.

Science guides action

I am particularly impressed by the excellent scientific work that has been accomplished by scientists here in this department, and at Health Canada under my colleague, Minister Allan Rock. The thorough and painstaking efforts of scientists are significantly improving our ability to understand the impact of toxic substances on the environment and on human health and to decide what action needs to be taken. With this information, we are able to make informed policy choices that address the real problems in the most effective way.

At work here and internationally

As a net receiver of airborne pollutants, Canada has a strong interest in encouraging environmentally responsible choices around the world. Our negotiators have helped to craft milestone international agreements, such as the one signed in 1998 on Persistent Organic Pollutants under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. International agreements, cooperation and information sharing are critical for the success of our global efforts to protect the environment and human health, and to support the shift to sustainable development.

Lessons learned

The key lesson that we have learned, since the consequences of the use of DDT and the damage caused by acid rain first alerted us to the need for action 25 years ago, is that pollution prevention and environmental remediation require a concerted, collaborative effort. Provincial, territorial, aboriginal, municipal and foreign governments, industry, the non-governmental sector, communities and the people who live in them all have to take responsibility and take action.

We can succeed when we work together

We are seeing progress. For example, effluent from pulp and paper mills no longer contains the toxic substances that are most threatening to the environment. The industry understood it was time to make a change and did. We now have collaborative projects with other industrial sectors, such as the printing and graphics industry and the dry cleaning industry, to find ways to eliminate the use of the most toxic substances and to prevent pollution.

The Internet gives us the opportunity to share information, ideas, developments and solutions with Canadians and with our neighbours around the world. The Green Lane and other web sites are a rich resource for anyone who wants to know more about Environment Canada's scientific research, funding for community action and environmental projects, work being done on challenges such as climate change, and a wealth of other CEPA-related issues. You will be impressed by the quality of material available through the Internet. This reflects one aspect of our expanding efforts to share information with the public and satisfy the community's right to know.

I believe that as people become more informed, they will become more involved, and the willingness to make required changes will grow. We will not succeed alone. We can succeed, however, when we work together.

Moving forward with CEPA

Within this context, CEPA gives the federal government the legislative framework for regulating toxic substances, responding to international air pollution, controlling the disposal of items at sea and promoting compliance with the law. During the just over 10 years that CEPA has been in place, we have accomplished a great deal.

On September 14, 1999, a renewed CEPA was passed by Parliament. The new Act includes powerful tools that will enhance our collective ability to prevent pollution and effectively address environmental problems. These new tools include:

  • requirements for companies to develop a pollution prevention plan
  • commitments to virtually eliminate the release of persistent bioaccumulative toxic substances
  • protection for individuals who report a CEPA violation, and
  • increased opportunities for Canadians to know more about pollution prevention activities and results.

Now, with a renewed CEPA, we will be able to move forward with purpose, building on a solid foundation of science, knowledge and experience.

David Anderson
Minister of the Environment

Minister's Message
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