Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment

Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment

February 17, 2009 18:54 ET

Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment: Environment Ministers Collaborate on Climate Change

WHITEHORSE, YUKON--(Marketwire - Feb. 17, 2009) - Federal, provincial and territorial environment Ministers met today in Whitehorse to discuss a range of issues including municipal wastewater effluent, climate change and strategies to reduce packaging and encourage producers to take greater environmental responsibility for the products they manufacture. Canada committed to consult with provinces and territories in a structured framework of discussion in the lead-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009 and in future Canada-US discussions on climate change.

"Climate change has had significant impacts on northerners' way of life," said CCME president and Yukon Environment Minister Elaine Taylor, who chaired the meeting. "It is opportune to be hosting the CCME meeting in Whitehorse so Ministers can hear firsthand about the impacts of climate change on Canada's north. Despite the range of different views and approaches that we have on this important issue, we all agree that we must find common areas of interest where we can work together on climate change," she said.

Ministers recognized the work done to date in developing the Canada-wide strategy for the management of municipal wastewater effluent developed by CCME. A number of jurisdictions have endorsed the Strategy and are ready to begin implementation.

The strategy sets out a harmonized framework to manage discharges from more than 3,500 wastewater facilities in Canada, many of which are currently in need of repair and upgrading. It provides an agreed-upon path forward for achieving regulatory clarity for owners of municipal wastewater facilities. Performance standards will increase protection for human health and the environment on a national basis. Bilateral agreements between the federal government and provinces and territories will ensure one-window regulatory delivery of the strategy.

Officials provided Ministers with an update on the development of a new, comprehensive air management system for Canada that is focused on air quality based on a system of national standards. Ministers recognized the significant contribution that provinces and representatives from major industry sectors and health and environmental non-governmental organizations have made in doing this work. They acknowledged the importance of air quality for Canadians.

Ministers supported further CCME work with stakeholders on policy and implementation issues. They called for an implementation plan and timelines for the proposal to be brought back to CCME for consideration by Ministers at their next meeting.

In addition, Environment Ministers discussed strategies to reduce the millions of tonnes of waste that Canadians send for disposal in landfills and incinerators each year.

Ministers agreed to start national consultations on action plans designed to reduce packaging and other waste, and encourage manufacturers to be responsible for the end-of-life management of the products and packaging they produce. They also agreed on the need for a comprehensive national standard on packaging. Officials were directed to begin work on this as a priority.

Ministers received an update on water-related CCME initiatives, which have been an ongoing focus for the Council. Progress was provided on the Council's water-related priorities, which include water monitoring and climate change, water valuation and groundwater, as well as longstanding activities related to water quality. As a follow-up to the 2008 Council of the Federation meeting, CCME has recently initiated a study on water conservation and scarcity in the context of Canada's changing climate. Ministers agreed to develop a strategic national vision that captures existing water priorities.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Ontario Environment Minister John Gerretsen assumed the presidency of CCME for the coming year. "I am pleased to take on the role of president of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment for 2009," he said. "We face a number of pressing environmental challenges in Canada from climate change to reducing waste and packaging, from preventing pollution to helping clean the air we breathe and ensuring clean water for generations to come."

CCME is the major intergovernmental forum in Canada for discussion and joint action on environmental issues of national and international concern.

Proposed backgrounders/Additional information

- Backgrounder on National Strategy for Managing Municipal Wastewater Effluent

- Backgrounder on Extended Producer Responsibility

Further details are available at www.ccme.ca.

Contact Information

  • CCME Secretariat
    Carl Hrenchuk
    Executive Director
    (204) 948-2172
    Website: www.ccme.ca
    or
    Environment Yukon
    Nancy Campbell
    Communications Officer
    (867) 456-6794