The Speech from the Throne and subsequent Prime Ministerial address to the nation was a collective opportunity to show Canadians how the federal government will lead the economic recovery while continuing to protect the environment and the health of Canadians. With the challenges Canadians and businesses are facing, we must ensure that new regulatory measures will continue to contribute to—and not detract from—our much-needed economic recovery.
The Speech reconfirmed the government’s intention to ban single-use plastics which is a step backwards in the fight against plastic waste. Rather than pursuing this go-it-alone policy, Canada should commit to a reimagination of recycling and repurposing of plastics in collaboration with the provinces. What is needed to truly address this issue is purposeful circular economy legislation that sets recycled content standards, national performance requirements, extended producer responsibility, and defines the life-cycle assessment of products. Industry and government should work together to secure new investments in advanced recycling systems and new technologies to turn plastic waste into a valuable commodity. Scientifically sound and smart solutions to address plastic waste will create thousands of jobs and usher in the next wave of economic prosperity while safeguarding a critical resource that complements safety, efficiency, and sustainability.
The Speech also invoked the government’s plan to reform the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). CIAC believes that the fundamentals of the Act remain strong. The Act is the global gold standard for the risk-based approach, and that approach must be preserved. There are areas for improvement and modernization identified by the Standing Committee that CIAC supports wholeheartedly.
CIAC believes that all new legislation should be focused on getting Canadians back to work. Parliament must focus on improvements to CEPA that safeguard Canadians from exposures of concern, but also ensures that where there is no risk that there be no new regulatory hurdles to operating in Canada. Changes to CEPA should reduce risk, but also signal that Canada is open to encouraging investment in our sector.
We look forward to continue working with the federal government and it should be commended for portions of the Throne Speech—including the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 which the chemistry industry fully supports. Additionally, addressing systemic racism and increasing diversity; indigenous reconciliation; and bringing more women back into the workforce are initiatives of critical focus for all levels of government in Canada.
Overall, CIAC is encouraging more cooperation with industry to move the Canadian economy forward effectively.