Kananaskis, Alberta, November 30, 1999 - The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) is the major intergovernmental forum in Canada for discussion and joint action on environmental issues of national and international concern. It comprises environment ministers from the federal, provincial, and territorial governments.
Meeting as the CCME in Kananaskis, Alberta today, Environment Ministers from across Canada (with the exception of the Quebec representative)*, agreed to prohibit the bulk removal of surface and groundwater from the Canadian portion of major basins.
Nine jurisdictions have endorsed The Accord for the Prohibition of Bulk Water Removal from Drainage Basins (attached). Four jurisdictions have reserved their position pending further consideration.
Ministers recognized the authority of each jurisdiction and the right to determine its approach. It is expected that the issue will require further discussion before the next meeting of Council.
It is agreed that additional measures will be considered if it appears that further action is required to ensure prohibition of bulk water removal.
This approach is consistent with the 1993 Statement by Governments of Canada, Mexico, and the United States (attached).
In a precedent-setting move, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (with the exception of the Quebec representative)* also today accepted in principle the first set of Canada-wide standards for four priority pollutants, including Particulate Matter (PM) and Ground-level Ozone (the main components of smog), mercury emissions, and benzene. Ministers agreed to take the standards back to their Cabinet colleagues for consideration.
These Canada-wide Standards set numerical air quality targets to protect the environment to reduce the risk to human health, and demonstrate the commitment and importance of federal, provincial and territorial cooperation to take action. Jurisdictions have identified initial actions and timeframes to achieve the standards.
By accepting these standards, Ministers expect results and measurable improvements in air quality for Canadians. Scientific evidence links these substances to environmental and serious health problems such as asthma and chronic bronchitis.
Ministers appreciate the participation and support by stakeholders, environment and health non-government organizations, industry and Aboriginal peoples in the development of these standards.
Ministers committed to work collectively and within their own jurisdictions to finalize the standards before signing at the first CCME Council of Ministers meeting in the new millennium.
With the objective of continuous and measurable improvement in air quality, Ministers agreed to review the provisions of the PM and ozone standard. Specifically, Ministers will consider the options for: setting a standard for coarse particulate matter (PM10); shortening the timeframe for meeting the ozone target, now set at 2015; and undertaking the review of the standard in three years.
Ministers confirmed climate change as one of the highest environmental priorities facing our country. They will intensify their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The outcome of the Conference of the Parties (CoP5) in Bonn, Germany earlier this month provided Ministers with more information about the actions of other countries concerning climate change and emphasized the need for continued action in Canada.
Ministers recognized that the problems of climate change, smog and acid rain have common sources and noted the opportunity this presents to pursue integrated solutions.
Along with their energy counterparts, environment ministers look forward to a discussion of the contents of a draft national implementation strategy and any provincial and territorial strategies or measures on climate change at the Joint Ministers Meeting next spring. This will include a range of actions suggested by more than 450 experts from across Canada.
The 1999 Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines have been published by CCME as science based guidelines for evaluating and managing water, soil, sediment, tissue and air quality. The guideline compendium is used by jurisdictions in Canada and internationally, and include 550 guidelines for over 220 substances of concern.
Ministers also reviewed a framework document on the Hazardous Air Pollutants Strategy which outlines how Canadian jurisdictions will implement Canada's international commitments on reducing emissions of hazardous air pollutants, as well as an update under the Acid Raid Strategy signed in 1998.
Ministers look forward to announcing new targets and schedules for reducing acid rain-causing emissions at their fall 2000 meeting.
Further information on the documents referred to in this release and about the CCME is available from the CCME's website at www.ccme.ca/ccme.
*Quebec will set out its position in its own communiqué.
For further information:
Peter Andre Globensky
Director General, CCME
Telephone: (204) 948-2120
The following nine jurisdictions have endorsed the Accord:
The following four jurisdictions have reserved their position pending further consideration:
* Quebec will set out its position in its own communiqué.
"The governments of Canada, the United States and Mexico, in order to correct false interpretations, have agreed to state the following jointly and publicly as Parties to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA):
The NAFTA creates no rights to the natural water resources of any Party to the Agreement
Unless water, in any form, has entered into commerce and become a good or product, it is not covered by the provisions of any trade agreement including the NAFTA. And nothing in the NAFTA would oblige any NAFTA Party to either exploit its water for commercial use, or to begin exporting water in any form. Water in its natural state in lakes, rivers, reservoirs, aquifers, water basins and the like is not a good or product, is not traded, and therefore is not and never has been subject to the terms of any trade agreement.
International rights and obligations respecting water in its natural state are contained in separate treaties and agreements negotiated for that purpose. Examples are the United States-Canada Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 and the 1944 Boundary Waters Treaty between Mexico and the United States."