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Reducing Environmental Toxics

Archived Backgrounder

Reducing Environmental Toxics

The McGuinty Government Commitment

The McGuinty Government is determined to provide Ontario families and their children with a clean, safe environment with healthy air to breathe, land to use and water to drink.

To clean up toxics and tackle the environmental causes of illnesses, we will:

  • Work with Cancer Care Ontario and the Ontario Medical Association to identify, target and reduce the number of cancer-causing agents released into the environment.
  • Create a tough new toxic reduction law that requires companies to reduce toxic emissions.
  • Ban the cosmetic use of pesticides across the province.
  • Replace coal-fired electricity by 2014 to improve the quality of the air we breathe and reduce climate change impacts that threaten to disrupt our quality of life.
  • Clean up toxic hot spots in the Great Lakes - such as Randle Reef in Hamilton Harbour - to help make the waters of the Great Lakes safe for families and their children.
  • Set tough standards for an additional 14 toxic and cancer-causing chemicals.
  • New province wide regulatory requirements to protect children from exposure to elevated lead levels which may be present in the plumbing of older neighbourhoods, schools and daycares.

The McGuinty Government has taken many environmental actions to protect the health of families and children.  They include:

  • Reduced emissions from coal fired electricity plants by one-third and closed the single largest source of air pollution in the GTA, the Lakeview coal plant.  The government has put in place regulations to phase out all coal plants by 2014.
  • Working with both large and small industry to cut air pollution emissions that impact on the health and quality of life of our families and their children.  In 2007 we set 19 new or updated air standards for 14 air toxics, including lead. Our government has now updated a total of 59 air standards for toxics, the largest update in over 30 years and the first time that some pollutants have had standards set for them.
  • Banned the burning of used oil in space heaters in Southern Ontario to support better air quality and protect the health of families and children.
  • Implementing all of the recommendations from the Walkerton Inquiry, with a comprehensive source-to-tap drinking water policy to ensure that water from our taps is safe to drink.
  • Passing the Clean Water Act, the most stringent drinking water source protection legislation in Canada, in 2006 to protect drinking water at its source and help ensure that the water from our taps is safe from toxic substances and pollutants.
  • Passing the "Spills Bill" (the Environmental Enforcement Statute Law Amendment Act) Introducing environmental penalties of up to $100,000 a day for companies that spill pollutants.
  • Increasing flushing and testing requirements for water in schools and day nurseries to protect children from being exposed to unsafe lead levels.
  • Signing a new Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem (COA) with the government of Canada for 2007 - 2010 with a commitment of more than $30 million in funding to help clean up contaminated Areas of Concern.  This is in addition to the $30 million committed to the remediation of Randle Reef in Hamilton Harbour.
  • Protecting 1.8 million acres of important land through the Greenbelt Plan. The Greenbelt will preserve parks, forests and other greenspace that help clean our air and provide a place to take part in healthy outdoor activities.
  • Through formal comments, continued to pressure the United States Environmental Protection Agency to consider human health and the environment in both Canada and the United States when revising national ozone standards and proposing changes to the Agency's New Source Review Program.
  • Working with industry on an improved diversion plan for household hazardous waste, including batteries, paint and household chemicals.



Environment and Energy