Actually, if I might request your indulgence, I think we can commit to making all the departmental presentations within a half an hour. I might take a little more time than my colleagues, and they may take a little less than ten minutes. The bulk of the act amends the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the act that our minister administers along with the Minister of Health. I may have a few more comments to make, but we'll try to keep the comments within the totality of about half an hour.
My colleague from Health Canada, Phil Blagden, doesn't have a presentation to make. He's available to answer any questions anybody may have about the health aspects of the bill.
As members know, amends three existing statutes: the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, which I'll refer to as CEPA from now on; the Energy Efficiency Act, which is administered by the Minister of Natural Resources; and the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act. If anybody can remember the name of that one, they get a surprise at the end of the meeting.
I'll speak to you about the main ways in which amends CEPA. In order to do that, I am going to spend a few minutes telling you about CEPA itself. For some of you this will be old hat, because you're now experts, having concluded the review of CEPA. For others, this maybe useful before I launch into the specific amendments that the bill makes to CEPA.
A lot of federal statutes address pollutants; however, CEPA is the main framework piece of federal legislation for addressing pollutants. It comprises a number of regulatory regimes. It includes a regime for toxic substances. It includes a regime for regulating fuels and one for addressing nutrients and motor vehicle and engine emissions. It has a complete section that gives the government authority to regulate various environmental issues on federal lands and on aboriginal lands. It has a stand-alone regime for controlling the disposal of waste at sea. It provides a regime for environmental emergencies, and so on.
This is one of the most comprehensive environmental protection statutes in the world. For example, in the United States, the statutes that address the issues that are included in CEPA number at least eight, and probably more than that.
Although the statute covers a number of different regimes, the issue for which CEPA is probably most important, and almost certainly best known, is the toxics regime. That regime is at the heart of the act. Part 1 of the act addresses toxics; parts 3, 4, 5, and 6 address toxics; and part 9 also addresses toxics.
The act provides a comprehensive regime for identifying, assessing, and then managing substances that are found to meet the definition of “toxic”. Essentially, that is a legal definition. It doesn't refer to toxicological properties, it refers to risk to human health and the environment. Risk is a combination of the property of the substance and the potential for exposure, and therefore for harm to human health or the environment.
What the act does is provide a regime for identifying substances. When they're identified and are based on a scientific assessment, where a conclusion is made by the government that the substances need to be managed, those substances are added to what's called the list of toxic substances.
At the moment, under the act, the six greenhouse gases that proposes to address and the six air pollutants that Bill C-30 proposes to address are on the list of toxic substances. They've been through a risk assessment. In the case of air pollutants, it was a risk assessment done in Canada. In the case of greenhouse gases, it was one that has been the subject of considerable media attention recently, at the international level.
Once the substance is added to the list of toxic substances, the act provides for various authorities to manage the substance in the most efficient manner possible. For example, the government can impose regulations that can restrict or ban completely activities related to the substance. The government can impose a deposit refund scheme. It can establish tradeable permit systems.
The minister has the authority to require a user or a producer or an emitter of a toxic substance to prepare a pollution prevention plan. Under this authority, the minister can't say, “You must reduce by x”, but the minister can say, “You must prepare a plan and then report it back to Parliament, to the government, to tell us how you're going to prevent emissions from these substances.”
In addition—and here I'm looking at slide 7—the act also provides broad authority to establish various guidelines and codes of practice regarding, for example, industrial processes that would be appropriate to minimize the use or production or emission of these substances.
In addition, there is a completely separate regime in CEPA for fuels and engines. The act provides the authority to regulate fuels and the properties of fuels in order to address air pollution. The act also provides the authority to regulate vehicles and engines. Indeed, there are numerous regulations in place, and more planned for publication in the next year or two, addressing air pollutant aspects of fuels, engines, and vehicles.
In addition to these specific regulatory regimes, throughout CEPA you can find various cross-cutting provisions. Some of these are summarized on slide 8. For example, the act provides the ministers of health and environment with broad research authorities. It also gives the Minister of the Environment in particular the authority to require members of the public and, in particular, industry to submit information that is in their custody, to support the minister's efforts to identify and assess the substance, determine whether the substance needs to be risk-managed, and then to determine the most appropriate manner in which to manage the substance.
There is a comprehensive enforcement regime at the back that is applicable to any regulation developed under the act. Of course, there are also provisions for equivalency and administrative agreements. We'll come back to those in a minute, but essentially these are mechanisms that the federal government can use to acknowledge that a provincial, territorial, or aboriginal government has in place a regime that will achieve an equivalent outcome. Therefore, we can avoid having overlapping federal–provincial regulation, and just have one regulation in place.
On slide 9 we detail some of the other cross-cutting elements that are important features of CEPA. They were present in the original CEPA that was published in 1988, but they became significantly strengthened as a result of the review the predecessor to the current environment and sustainable development committee conducted in the mid-1990s. As a result of that review, CEPA was considerably strengthened with respect to the obligations it puts on the ministers of environment and health to allow for public participation in virtually every important phase of decision-making under the act.
In addition, the act establishes a national advisory committee comprised of federal, territorial, and aboriginal representatives, to ensure that before any important decision is taken, those representatives are consulted and given an opportunity to provide input. They don't have decision-making authority, but we are obliged to consult with that committee.
Finally, there are various accountability mechanisms built into the act, including an annual report that we publish on the administration of the act, and of course the five-year review. The environment and sustainable development committee, as I understand it, is in the process of preparing the report that would represent the second such five-year review.
Turning to slide 10, in a couple of minutes I think I've tried to sketch for you how CEPA provides a fairly solid foundation for regulating pollutants, including air pollution and greenhouse gases. CEPA would enable us to regulate air pollutants and greenhouse gases as toxic substances.
What would Bill C-30 do? Bill C-30 would amend CEPA in two significant ways. First of all, it would amend various provisions in CEPA, tailor them a little bit better to ensure that they are more directly applicable to air pollutants and greenhouse gases. In addition, Bill C-30 would establish a clean air part, a new part in the act specifically designed to allow the government to collect information about air pollutants and GHGs and to develop risk management regimes, in particular, regulatory regimes, specifically for greenhouse gases and air pollutants.
The next eight slides summarize the key ways in which Bill C-30 would amend CEPA. First of all, in terms of the scope of Bill C-30—looking at slide 11—the first important change is that the bill explicitly states that air applies to indoor and outdoor air. So wherever you read “air” in CEPA, if Bill C-30 were to pass, you would read “indoor and outdoor air”. For example, any of the research authorities, any of the information-gathering authorities, or any of the regulatory authorities could be applied to indoor air. And of course, most of us spend most of our time indoors rather than outdoors. While outdoor air certainly poses significant health risks to Canadians, so does indoor air, indeed maybe more so, if you care to ask my colleague from Health Canada.
The bill would also slightly amend the current definition of “air pollution”, but it would still be broad enough to include smog, acid rain, and climate change. It would define air pollutants as the items listed on slide 11: particulate matter, ozone, volatile organic compounds, gaseous ammonia—these are all smog precursors—nitrous oxides and sulphur dioxides, which contribute to smog and acid rain, and mercury. As I mentioned earlier, each of these items is currently listed as a toxic substance. Were Bill C-30 to pass, these items, with the exception of mercury, would be removed from the list of toxic substances and would be managed and regulated as air pollutants alone. Mercury would remain on both lists because of course it's a problem in water and soil as well as in the air.
Similarly, the bill would define the six greenhouse gases as greenhouse gases that are currently on the list of toxic substances. In late 1995 the government added those six gases to the list of toxic substances, giving the government the authority to regulate them under the toxic substances provision. What Bill C-30 would do is take them off the list of toxic substances and define them as a greenhouse gas, and then enable the regulation of those substances under the new clean air part as a greenhouse gas.
In addition, the bill would give the Governor in Council the authority to name additional substances either as an air pollutant or a greenhouse gas, provided that the Governor in Council was satisfied that the substance contributed, or was capable of contributing, to air pollution—in other words, smog, acid rain, or climate change.
Slide 12 summarizes the way in which the bill would establish an accountability regime specifically tailored to air pollutants in greenhouse gases. At the moment, CEPA enables the minister to establish environmental quality objectives, publish a state of the environment report, publish a summary of emissions from large sources in Canada, and provide an annual report.
Those obligations would stay. But in addition to those, would require the ministers to set ambient air quality objectives. In other words, we're not talking about an emission limit. We're talking about how much of this stuff do we want in the air? What's the ideal limit for these two major smog precursors?
It would be a benchmark against which future governments would be assessed by their colleagues and by the government in terms of the success at reducing emissions. It would also require the ministers to monitor the attainment of those objectives on a regular basis, and it would require the ministers to report annually on a bunch of things about which they're not currently required to report.
On attainment of air quality objectives, it would require an annual report on air quality in Canada. It would require a report on the effectiveness of actions that are being taken by all governments in Canada, not only by the federal government but by all governments.
We're not giving the federal minister the authority to intervene in a province and say they must do A or B. But the bill would give the ministers of the environment and health the obligation to report on the effectiveness of actions that are being taken by all levels of government in Canada, in recognition that all levels of government have a direct impact on air quality, and of any plans that the ministers have for additional actions to improve air quality.
Next are the expanded authorities that the bill would give to the ministers to conduct research and to monitor and gather information on air issues. There would be expanded and tailored authorities to do research and information-gathering on air issues.
The Minister of Health in particular would receive expanded authorities to do these kinds of activities. At the moment, the Minister of Health's authority to do research and collect information under CEPA is actually quite limited. Of course, not so much on the greenhouse gas side but on the air pollution side, we're primarily talking about health issues. The authority of the Minister of Health would be considerably expanded on the science side of the issue, both to understand the issue and in order to be able to monitor the ongoing impacts of government interventions. For example, there would be a new authority to conduct biomonitoring.
In addition, there's the proposed expansion in the government's regulatory powers. At the moment, as I indicated earlier, under the toxics provisions and under the fuels, engines, and vehicles provisions, CEPA provides fairly broad authority to regulate air pollutants and greenhouse gases as toxic substances.
would do a couple of things. First, the authority wouldn't be tied to the linkage to toxic. The authority would be given to these substances as to what they are, air pollutants and greenhouse gases.
Second, the authorities that you find in proposed part 5.1, in the clear air part, have been tailored to air pollutants and greenhouse gases.
For example, there are certain authorities that may be appropriate regarding the kinds of requirements that one might want to include in a regulation about how a “regulatee” should monitor or report on emissions. It's very hard to report in many cases precisely on what is coming out of the stack. In many cases, mathematical modelling is required. We don't want facility A to use a different model from facility B, so we might want to be able to specify the kind of modelling that's done. We don't have the authority now. It would be provided in the new bill.
A significant enhancement would be the ability to regulate products that create air pollutants. At the moment, we can regulate products that contain and emit air pollutants, but we can't regulate a product that doesn't contain an air pollutant. A wood stove is a good example. A wood stove is an inert piece of metal or cast iron. There's nothing wrong with a wood stove when it's sitting there. When you put wood in it and you fire it up, particulate matter and other stuff come out of the chimney. We can't regulate the way a wood stove is designed at the moment, because there's no toxic substance in the wood stove. What we would like to be able to do is regulate the way a wood stove is designed to ensure that it is as efficient as possible, to minimize the particulate matter and other smog-causing emissions it creates.
I'm getting nasty stares from my colleagues as well.
I'm almost done.
Slide 15 outlines another set of improvements that would make to CEPA. The act currently provides the Governor in Council with some flexibility to develop regulations that apply different standards to different parts of the country, based on health or environmental concerns. So the objective would be to provide an equivalent national outcome in terms of environmental or health outcomes. In order to do that, you might need to have regionally differentiated regulations, because, for example, you may have more concentration of industry or emissions in one part of Canada than in another.
Bill C-30 would expand that in two ways. First, it would make it clear that regulations that focus on one or more provinces in particular could be developed. So a region could be defined as a province. That would enable the government, for example, to recognize the fact that a province may have already regulated the air emission—whether it's a greenhouse gas or an air pollutant—to a level that is adequate. Therefore federal regulations need not apply in that area.
In addition, the would enable the government to write regulations that distinguish among regulatees on the basis of certain characteristics, like the technology that they use, or the age of the facility. We're not saying, in this bill, that the minister must do that; we're not saying that the minister would ever do that. But this would give the government the authority to do that.
For example, we know that other jurisdictions, including the United States, make this sort of differentiation between, for example, new and old facilities, requiring a new facility to be built at a certain level, but recognizing that you'd be imposing inappropriate or unaffordable costs on an old facility if you required the old facility to immediately upgrade its technology.
Slide 16 summarizes the way in which the addresses an oversight in the current regulatory authority provided regarding fuels. We can regulate the producers. We can regulate the gas stations. But we can't actually regulate the intermediate place at which fuel blending occurs. If we want to regulate fuel content to ensure that fuel contains, for example, a certain proportion of renewable energy, then the most efficient way to do that would be to enable us to regulate at the point of blending, and we can't do that. Bill C-30 would enable us to do that.
would also fill in a couple of small issues we've identified that currently inhibit the government's ability to establish an efficient emissions trading regime. CEPA currently enables us to set up emissions trading, but doesn't enable the ministers to do that in the most efficient manner possible; for example, it doesn't enable the minister to specify maximum and minimum penalties that would be applicable. The bill would correct that problem.
The would also clarify that the test for equivalency is not a form test. It's not, “Do you have a regulation in place?” but rather, “Do you have a legal regime in place that will ensure the equivalent environmental or health outcome?” The bill is saying that the ministers aren't in the business of overseeing the provincial governments by saying they need to have a legal instrument of a certain kind. The test is not, “What do you have in place?” but rather, “What would be the effect or the outcome on environmental and human health?” If it's equivalent, then that's good enough.
Finally, on the cross-cutting elements I spoke about, the entire enforcement regime, all the public participation authorities and obligations that are imposed on the government, and the ongoing role of the national advisory committee, which provides for provincial, territorial, and aboriginal input into decision-making, all of those features of CEPA would continue to apply to actions taken to address air pollutants and greenhouse gases.
Indeed, many of the provisions you see in Bill C-30—if you've actually tried to wade through the bill—simply add air pollutants and GHGs to those cross-cutting provisions. They're not changing those provisions substantively; they're just ensuring that all of those provisions apply to air pollutants and GHGs.
I'll stop there. I appreciate that I've gone overtime; I've covered a lot of ground. We'll be here after the vote to answer to answer any questions you have.
Thank you very much for the introduction and the opportunity to meet with the committee. I promise I won't talk until the bells go.
I'm here to speak to the proposed changes to the Energy Efficiency Act, as described in the Clean Air Act. The Energy Efficiency Act was brought into force in 1995.
Canada regulates more products than any other country in the world: we regulate more products than the EU; we regulate more products than the APEC countries; we regulate more products than our closest competitor, the United States, who regulates 30 products while we regulate 45. As well, our regulations are among the most stringent in the world. The European Union is bringing in a refrigerator standard that we have had in place for five years; 6% of EU motors can meet the motor standard that we put in place in 1997.
We can see that we're making progress in regulating energy efficient equipment in Canada. The big household appliances use less energy per unit than they did in 1990, and even though there's more of them, they use less overall energy, not just unit energy.
However, we have a lot of work left to do. With the proliferation of electronic goods—the plug-in goods, the DVDs and television sets and computers, and the things that proliferate in our homes and in our offices—the energy use of these products has overtaken the gains we have made in energy efficiency in home appliances and lighting and other areas. So the proposed changes to the Energy Efficiency Act by the Clean Air Act will have us regulating 20 new products and strengthening the energy efficiency regulations for 10 existing products.
I'm going to take you through five proposed changes to the Energy Efficiency Act itself, as proposed in the Clean Air Act, starting on slide 22. These will strengthen and broaden our ability to regulate energy-using products.
The first change that we propose to the Energy Efficiency Act is that we be given the authority to regulate by class of product. Instead of regulating every product one by one, we're seeking the authority to be able to identify classes or families of products based on their common characteristics. The best example I can give you is the one I just mentioned, that of all this plug-in equipment. If we can regulate consumer electronics according to their standby power losses, we will be part of an important international program, i.e., IEA-led and G-8 program, to monitor energy use when our pieces of equipment are off—which can actually use as much as 25 watts when not on. And if we have 25 of these pieces of equipment on average in Canadian households, think of all the energy waste that's going on.
So we would like to regulate these very efficiently and flexibly by class of product. That way we can keep up with the fact that the technologies are changing very quickly.
The second change that we're proposing—on slide 23—to the Energy Efficiency Act is to give us the authority to regulate products that affect or control energy use but aren't necessarily energy-using themselves. The examples I'll give you are electronic thermostats instead of mechanical thermostats. They have the potential to reduce energy use in a home by 5% to 14%, if it's an electrically heated home. Another example is a little gizmo in commercial dishwashers that's a very simple piece of equipment but that has an enormous impact on how much hot water is used, and therefore how much energy is used in commercial dishwashers. Right now we can't get at them because they're not energy-using products, but they do affect energy use. So that's the second change we would like to bring forward to the Energy Efficiency Act.
The third change—also on slide 23—is to broaden the labelling provisions under the Energy Efficiency Act. Currently we can speak to the form and manner of labelling, but we would like to be able to tell consumers more about the energy consumption and to have the regulatory authority to do that.
Turning to slide 24, the proposed amendment to the Energy Efficiency Act would require that all shipments of products in Canada meet the federal energy efficiency regulations. Currently we can regulate goods that are imported and sold, and we can regulate goods that are manufactured in one province and shipped to another, but we don't have access to regulate products that are imported and then shipped to another province. That's a bit of a gap, and we'd like to correct that gap.
The fifth proposed amendment to the Energy Efficiency Act has to do with information that we need to get from shippers in order to ensure that people are complying with the energy efficiency regulations. The Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations opined that we did not have the proper legislative authority to get all the data we need to properly monitor Canada's energy efficiency regulations. So we would set that right with this proposed amendment to the Energy Efficiency Act.
In summary—on slide 26—these are important regulatory proposals. They would put Canada clearly in the leadership in the world with regard to regulating energy efficiency in these types of products. We would be regulating over 80% of the energy used in the home and about 80% of the energy used in a commercial setting.
I'll be happy to answer any questions after you return.
Thank you very much. I will give a brief presentation.
Bill C-30 amends the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act. I will refer to it as the MVFCSA, because it's too long to keep going with that title.
The Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act is a federal act that was adopted by Parliament in 1982, but it was never proclaimed. Instead, there was a voluntary regime for the industry to meet fuel consumption standards for vehicles sold in Canada. I thought it was important to clarify that it's federal legislation that was adopted by Parliament in 1982 but it was never proclaimed.
I will go through the amendments in numerical order. There are five sections that are being amended, so I'll go quickly through them.
Section 3, as amended, is the regulatory authority section. The amendments would modernize the regulatory authority of the legislation. There is currently authority to make regulations under the act. What we're doing here is adding a further authority, or a clarification, that addresses the use of a method to establish fuel consumption standards under the act. As I said, right now there is authority to set regulations; we just wanted to clarify that through the regulatory authority you could set the standards through a formula through regulations.
Section 5 is being amended. It's about the coming into force of the regulations. The proposed amendments would repeal section 5 in order to remove the minimum timeframe of 24 months plus one day between the publication of the regulations in Canada Gazette , part II, and the coming into force of new regulations in the event of industry objections to the regulations. With this amendment, the government would have increased flexibility to introduce regulations, as appropriate.
The current act provides that if you have regulations published in Canada Gazette , part II, they cannot come into force for 24 months plus one day if there's an objection by the industry. So the amendment would provide flexibility by removing that provision. If you go 23 months or 22 months, your regulation could come into force within a timeframe that you deem appropriate.
Section 24 is being amended. This is the search power provision. The amendment would modernize the current search power of the MVFCSA by requiring an inspector who does not have the consent of the owner of a place to obtain a search warrant before entering a dwelling place. It also modernizes the search power provisions by indicating that an inspector can use a computer system at the place, or can reproduce material that can be printed out, or can use copying equipment. As I said, the act was adopted in 1982. At that time, there were not the computer systems that we have right now. So this is simply to modernize these types of provisions.
The amendments would also modernize the language of the provisions to reflect current drafting practices.
Subsection 27(2) is amended. The amendment removes the current reference in the MVFCSA to the use of information obtained under this act in criminal proceedings under another act of Parliament. Again, this is to modernize the legal drafting of such a provision, since the act is 20-some years old.
Finally, the amendments propose to amend the coming-into-force provision of the act. As it is right now, the act comes into force by way of proclamation. The current drafting proceedings provide that acts come into force by order in council, not by proclamation. It's a matter of modernizing the way in which legislation is drafted.
So these are the five provisions that are amended under Bill C-30 to amend the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act.