Fact Sheet: The Proposed Toxics Reduction Act
The proposed Toxics Reduction Act, introduced in the Ontario Legislature today, is at the core of Ontario's Toxics Reduction Strategy.
The Toxics Reduction Strategy represents a balanced approach to protecting human health and the environment and improving the quality of our lives while supporting the transformation of businesses in Ontario to a green economy. The strategy includes providing financial and technical support to industry, focusing on smaller businesses, and informing Ontarians about toxics.
It delivers on the Ontario government's commitment to introduce toxics reduction legislation to reduce pollution and protect Ontarians from toxic chemicals in the air, water, land and consumer products. It will help build greener, healthier and more prosperous communities across Ontario.
Opportunities for collaboration on research into the health implications of environmental toxics in specific regions of the province are being explored by the ministries of Environment, Health and Long-Term Care, and Cancer Care Ontario.
Ontario's strategy is built upon the recommendations of the Toxics Reduction Scientific Expert Panel and consultations with business and industry, and environmental and health organizations, including Cancer Care Ontario and the Ontario Medical Association. The strategy augments the traditional "end of pipe" approach to managing chemical releases by placing a new focus on reducing the use of these substances at the front end of industrial processes.
The Proposed Toxics Reduction Act
The Bill to be introduced today sets out a framework for toxics reduction action by facilities. It would require facilities to track and quantify the toxics they use and create, to develop plans to reduce toxics, and to report to the government. This information would be available to the public, while respecting business confidentiality.
Toxics reduction planning is a proven approach to reducing toxics use while allowing businesses to identify operational efficiencies, costs savings and opportunities to improve their competitive advantage in markets which are increasingly demanding greener products.
The Bill would allow the Ontario government to collect information from facilities on substances of concern, which are substances potentially harmful to human health and the environment for which little data is currently available.
The Bill also includes regulation-making authority to prohibit or regulate the manufacture, sale or distribution of a toxic substance or consumer products that contain the substance and to require the manufacturer, seller or distributor to provide notice to the public.
As the first course of action, Ontario would continue to work with the federal government to promote the use of existing federal powers to deal with toxics in consumer products. These new authorities would position the ministry to take action to protect Ontarians, if necessary. Consultation with stakeholders and the public would take place prior to the development of any regulation under these new authorities.
Details would be spelled out in regulations, including the list of toxic substances, the substances of concern and facilities to be covered, as well as timelines for planning and reporting. Development of regulations would involve consultations with stakeholders and the public. (Please refer to the Backgrounder: Planned Consultations and Next Steps for more detailed information.)
A key objective of the Bill is to inform Ontarians about toxic substances. It would require facilities to disclose information about the toxic substances they use and create, prepare summaries of their plans to reduce toxics, and their progress under these plans.
The Ontario government plans to establish an electronic reporting system and a web site which would enable Ontarians to monitor toxics use and releases in their communities, as well as actions taken by facilities to reduce toxics. The government also plans to provide Ontarians with the necessary knowledge to make informed choices and support a domestic market shift to greener products.