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Many Ontario employers have serious concerns about Bill 167, the proposed Toxics Reduction Act. Despite several consultation sessions, significant questions remain unanswered. For example,

  1. Why does the Bill allow all three levels of government to regulate a single industry’s use or release of a single substance?
  2. Why does the Bill contain no clear, predictable principles for identifying the substances to be regulated, as there are in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999?
  3. Why are chemicals to be regulated on the basis of “inherent toxicity”, while ignoring exposure and therefore risk? This devalues some real protections for public health, such as chemical and physical processes that permanently bind substances into a stable matrix.
  4. How will the Bill avoid driving manufacturing to other jurisdictions, when it regulates processes while ignoring products and the chemicals they contain? Most of the substances on the proposed “toxics” list have a lower regulatory burden in other North American jurisdictions, which can freely export their products to Ontario.
  5. Since occupational health and safety is already thoroughly regulated under the  Occupational Health and Safety Act, what is the purpose of further regulating the use and storage of chemicals,  as opposed to their release into the natural environment?
  6. If release of toxics to the natural environment is the key concern, why isn’t this adequately addressed within the framework of existing environmental regulations such as the Environmental Protection Act?   Virtually all major Ontario industries are already governed by an air certificate of approval, whose acceptable emissions are being steadily tightened under the new air pollution regulation, O.Reg. 419/05.  Regulation of toxic substances in waste  was also recently tightened,  including the new land disposal restrictions under Regulation  347.
  7. Why does the Bill insist upon universal mass balance/material accounting, rather than the more direct and sometimes less expensive method of measuring emissions? What is the point of knowing how many “toxic substances” end up in products made in Ontario, when no such information is collected for comparable products imported here?
  8. Why is there no provision for protecting confidential business, technical, and scientific information, which the proposed plans will compel manufacturers to reveal?
  9. Who will take responsibility for the security risks of disclosing the nature and location of toxic substances to the public?
  10. Why do we need an entire new statute, most of which duplicates existing provisions in other laws?

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