Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment


VICTORIA - November 25, 2003 -- Canadian environment ministers agreed today to work together to improve water and air quality, place more emphasis on children’s health and the environment, and address electronics waste and the potential impacts of climate change.

“We are all aware that the state of the environment can affect human health, particularly children,” said Joyce Murray, President of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME), and British Columbia Minister of Water, Land and Air Protection. “Each of us wants cleaner air, cleaner water and sustainable practices that improve opportunities in our jurisdictions while protecting the health of Canadians. Working together, we believe we will achieve our goal even sooner.”

Ministers agreed on the many benefits of taking collaborative and consistent action to address environmental issues, and on the importance of ongoing technical work such as the establishment of national standards and guidelines.

To further continuous improvement of environmental management, the CCME will serve as a forum for provincial and territorial government input into the five year review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). Ministers also agreed to discuss this issue in 2004.

Building on their 2001 commitment to clean, safe and secure water for all Canadians, ministers reaffirmed water issues as a priority, and agreed to explore conservation measures, including economic considerations, public education and the need for better information.

They agreed to work together to develop a national strategy for harmonized management of municipal wastewater effluents. The strategy will be based on the principles of flexibility, respect for jurisdictional responsibilities, and a single-window approach for municipalities. It will also recognize the varying challenges and significant costs of implementation.

Ministers agreed to develop Canada-wide principles for dealing with waste from electronic products, building on the principles being developed by western provinces.

Ministers received and support a new Canada-wide standard (CWS) for dioxins and furans from conical waste combustion of municipal waste, noting that dioxins and furans are two of the most persistent toxic substances. Upon completion of their internal approval processes, jurisdictions that are signatories to the Harmonization Accord will sign the dioxins and furans CWS, making it the 12th standard adopted since 1998.

Ministers also discussed transboundary movement of air pollutants across the Canada-U.S. border, and the impacts they have on acid rain, air quality, ecosystems and the health of Canadians.

Ministers recognized the importance of the commitments under the Canada-U.S. Air Quality Agreement. They reaffirmed their commitments under the CWS on particulate matter and ozone, and their desire to continue to work with the U.S. to reduce transboundary air pollution. They also underscored the importance of protecting clean areas of the country from both transboundary and domestic pollution.

Ministers highlighted the need to manage the risks of the impacts of a changing climate, while continuing to work on mitigation measures. To help frame the discussion of climate change adaptation, the CCME released a report, Climate, Nature, People: Indicators of Canada’s Changing Climate. Ministers also received a report on addressing climate change in environmental assessments developed by a Federal/Provincial/Territorial Committee for consideration in assessment processes.

“We had a number of opportunities for productive and frank discussions over the last two days,” said Minister Murray. “We are committed to sharing information among our jurisdictions and using science to improve the environment.”

CCME is the major intergovernmental forum in Canada for discussion and joint action on environmental issues of national and international concern. The CCME Presidency rotates annually among the environment ministers from the federal, provincial, and territorial governments. Federal Environment Minister David Anderson now assumes the CCME Presidency for the coming year.

The CCME meeting in Victoria was a carbon-neutral event. The amount of carbon estimated to have been generated by attendance at the meeting (through travel, heating, lights etc.) will be offset through the planting of trees by the Tree Canada Foundation.

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Backgrounders have been prepared on the following topics, and are
available on the CCME website, along with this communiqué:

Municipal Waste Water Effluents
CWS on Dioxins and Furans in Conical Waste Combustion of Municipal Waste
Climate Change Indicators Report
Overview of CCME (under “About CCME/Media Centre”)

For more information, please contact:
Carl Hrenchuk
Executive Director, CCME
(204) 948-2172