Annual Meeting of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment


ST JOHN'S, January 30, 1998 -- The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment concluded a two day meeting in St. John's with discussions on cooperative work and successes in several areas:


The Canada-Wide Accord on Environmental Harmonization was signed by all jurisdictions with the exception of Quebec. Under the accord, each government will retain its existing authorities but will use them in a coordinated manner to achieve the highest level of environmental quality. Each government will undertake clearly defined responsibility for environmental performance and will report publicly on its results. The signatories to the accord also approved sub-agreements dealing with environmental assessment, inspection activities, and development of Canada-wide standards in areas such as air, water and soil quality.

Climate Change

The council discussed the commitment made by Canada at Kyoto, Japan in December to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by six percent from 1990 levels by 2010 and agreed the commitment represents a challenge to all sectors. Members discussed the development of a domestic implementation plan and noted the importance of continued collaboration with other key sectors, in particular energy ministers, and involvement by stakeholders and partners. Under the leadership of Canada, governments agreed to work in partnership and to commit the resources required to prepare a joint analysis of the full implications of the Kyoto Protocol, including a study of best practices, challenges and opportunities. This analysis will assist in the joint preparation of a national action plan.

Waste Reduction

CCME has exceeded its goal to reduce the amount of packaging waste sent to landfill by 50 percent.

A recent national study by Statistics Canada of the amount of packaging produced and recycled in 1996 shows a 51 percent reduction in packaging waste sent for disposal. The achievement comes four years ahead of schedule: in 1990, CCME announced a plan to cut in half, by the year 2000, the amount of packaging sent for disposal.

Ministers noted that the significant efforts made by industry to reduce shipping and distribution materials in their plants should lead to greater progress at the consumer level. Ministers also discussed the importance of reviewing fiscal and regulatory impediments to waste diversion and recycling initiatives.

Note to editors: A separate news release on the packaging issue is attached.

Toxic Substances

The council endorsed a CCME policy on the management of toxic substances, noting that managing and reducing toxics in the environment is a national priority. In keeping with the newly signed harmonization accord and the sub-agreement on Canada-wide standards, the policy envisions a cooperative approach and a multilateral process for identifying, assessing, screening and managing priority substances. All federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions will retain their authority to take independent action on toxic substances.

Protection of the Ozone Layer

The Council of Ministers endorsed an expanded national action plan to control ozone- depleting substances and their halocarbon alternatives.

The action plan updates a 1992 plan that dealt mainly with CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons). It now covers all ozone-depleting substances and some halocarbon alternatives such as HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons). These halocarbon alternatives, although not ozone depleting, need to be controlled because of their potential to contribute to global warming. The plan incorporates new tasks and measures to prevent, reduce and eliminate emissions of these gases. Furthermore, the action plan addresses the ultimate phase-out and disposal of CFCs and halons in Canada.

Meeting with Stakeholders

Prior to beginning its official agenda, the Council of Ministers met with 14 stakeholders who provided comments and suggestions on current and future CCME priorities. This was the first such meeting of the council with stakeholders, and ministers committed to explore with them avenues for future dialogue.

Pollution Prevention Awards

Four Canadian organizations were selected as winners of the first CCME Pollution Prevention Awards. The awards honour organizations showing innovation and leadership in the area of pollution prevention and were presented to the Municipality of Annapolis County, Nova Scotia; Bebbington Industries, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; Crown Cork & Seal Canada Inc with head offices in Concord, Ontario; and Kuntz Electroplating Inc., Kitchener, Ontario.

New CCME President

At the conclusion of today's meeting, Northwest Territories Minister of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development Stephen Kakfwi assumed the presidency of CCME, taking over from Newfoundland and Labrador minister Oliver Langdon. The presidency of CCME rotates annually amongst its members.

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For further information:
Liseanne Forand, CCME Director General
phone (204) 948-2120