November 4, 2009
For immediate release
Environment Ministers Endorse National Water Strategy
Environment, Energy & Forestry
Following Prince Edward Island-led discussions, Ministers of Environment from across the country have endorsed a Canada-Wide vision for water at meetings in Kingston, Ontario. Ministers met to discuss numerous issues of key importance to the environment.
“National cooperation and national strategies will help all provinces and territories in their work to protect and enhance valuable water resources. I think we all agree that water quality is a priority issue for public health and community development,” Environment, Energy and Forestry Minister Richard Brown said Friday.
Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers endorsed a Canada-wide strategic vision for water, which outlines how the Canadian Council of Ministers for the Environment (CCME) will help ensure that Canadians have access to clean, safe and sufficient water to meet their needs in ways that also maintain the integrity of ecosystems.
The strategic vision aligns well with CCME work on water-related issues and will be a useful tool in guiding the development of future CCME activities, promoting clarity and transparency in dealings with jurisdictions, partners and stakeholders.
Ministers also supported a Canada-wide water efficiency labeling program, agreed to earlier this year by the Council of the Federation. Water efficiency labeling supports the conservation and wise use of water under CCME’s Strategic Directions for Water by providing consumers with information on the water efficiency of appliances and fixtures such as toilets, shower heads and taps.
Consistent with Canada-wide strategic vision for water, Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to further collaborative efforts to address a number of issues including nutrient loading in Canadian waters, the valuation of water-based natural capital, and developing a better understanding of groundwater resources and management.
Federal, provincial and territorial Ministers also approved in principle major initiatives designed to reduce the amount of waste generated and sent to landfills.
“Clearly we need to do much more to reduce waste from the residential, industrial, commercial and institutional sectors across Canada. Committing to Extended Producer Responsibility and launching a Sustainable Packaging Strategy are two critical steps,” said Ontario Environment Minister John Gerretsen, who chaired the meeting. “I look forward to governments across our country moving even more quickly in the coming years, and to working with industry to make meaningful reductions in packaging.”
The Canada-wide Action Plan for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) encourages producers to take responsibility for the life cycle of their product, including the post-consumer stage. EPR shifts the financial and physical burden of waste management away from taxpayers and municipalities and assigns it to individual brand owners, manufacturers or first importers. Ministers also agreed to work to increase public awareness on the impact of the life cycle of products on the environment.
Under the Action Plan, Canadian jurisdictions commit to working towards the development of EPR legislation and/or regulations to allow for action on identified priority products and materials.
The second initiative, the Sustainable Packaging Strategy, outlines a set of short- and long-term measures to help improve packaging sustainability.
Ministers reviewed the progress of federal/provincial/territorial work to develop a new comprehensive air management system for Canada and supported further development of the system. Health and environmental non-government organizations and industry are active partners in this ground-breaking collaborative work.
Ministers affirmed their commitment to reducing federal-provincial duplication in environmental assessment while ensuring high environmental standards are met. They endorsed a CCME report that recommends jurisdictions consider a range of environmental assessment tools and models in their legislation. Ministers also committed to work for advances in the near term, as well as through the five-year review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act set to begin in 2010.
Ministers also received a report that helps build common understanding about the use of Regional Strategic Environmental Assessments as a tool for improved planning and decision-making, including its role in addressing cumulative effects.
CCME Ministers are committed to ensuring that jurisdictions are able to measure, track and report progress on the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG). They agreed to work together to minimize duplication and reduce the reporting burden for industry and governments through the development of a single-window GHG reporting system.
Ministers have agreed to meet in November to discuss preparations for the COP 15 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009.
CCME is the major intergovernmental forum in Canada for discussion and joint action on environmental issues of national and international concern. Further details are available at www.ccme.ca.