Toronto – As the federal government reviews a House of Commons Committee report on Canada’s national pollution law, a petition signed by nearly 4,500 Canadians released today calls on Environment Minister John Baird to amend the law to reduce Canadians’ exposure to toxic chemicals.
The House of Commons environment committee recently completed its year-long review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), and presented its recommendations to Parliament. The government has until the end of August to respond to the committee’s report.

“Thousands of people from right across Canada are calling for leadership from the federal government. Canadians are deeply concerned about the harmful chemicals polluting our environment and our bodies,” said Aaron Freeman, Policy Director, Environmental Defence.

The petition highlights four key areas for strengthening the Act to ensure Canadians’ health is protected from harmful chemicals:
(1)    set aggressive timelines for the virtual elimination of toxic chemicals;
(2)    make industry accountable for its chemicals;
(3)    regulate toxic chemicals in consumer products; and
(4)    reduce pollution in the Great Lakes basin.

The House of Commons Committee report calls for more stringent timelines for dealing with toxic substances. It also recommends making industry responsible for the safety of its chemicals and improving the protection of children’s health under the Act. The report says that CEPAshould be the main tool for controlling toxic substances in consumer products and highlights the Great Lakes region as a “vulnerable ecosystem” in need of better protection. 

The nearly 4,500 individual Canadians join more than 700 scientists and a dozen environmental law professors who have signed letters calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to amend the Act to ensure it reduces Canadians’ exposure to toxic chemicals.

“A broad consensus among both experts and ordinary Canadians is emerging,” said Freeman. “Canada wants the federal government to act quickly to fix CEPA.”

Through its Toxic Nation campaign, Environmental Defence has tested Canadians young and old for toxic chemicals in their bodies, including federal politicians. Results from those tests found Canadians are contaminated no matter where they work, play or go to school, how old they are or where they live.
The tests offer a snapshot of Canadians’ exposure to a broad range of chemicals, some of which persist in the environment and build up in our bodies. Many of the chemicals are found in everyday products, such as furniture, TVs, food packaging, cleaning products and clothing. Environmental Defence is currently testing the leaders of each of the three major political parties in Ontario – Premier Dalton McGuinty, Official Opposition Leader John Tory and NDP Leader Howard Hampton.
 
The petition is available on the Toxic Nation web site – www.toxicnation.ca
 
About Environmental Defence (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence protects the environment and human health. We research. We educate. We go to court when we have to. All in order to ensure clean air, safe food and thriving ecosystems. Nationwide.
 
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For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232; (647) 280-9521 (cell)