Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA)

It’s the foundation of our environmental regulations
and it needs reform.

We’re working hard to make sure we get this right

Breast Cancer Action Quebec, in collaboration with many other health and environmental groups, is working to tighten regulations on the use of toxic chemicals used in everyday consumer goods and products. From flame retardants in furniture and electronic equipment to phthalates in cosmetics, perfumes, hairsprays, food packaging, shower curtains, these chemicals and many others have serious and proven negative effects on health and the environment.

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) is the cornerstone of Canadian environmental regulation. It regulates the use of toxic substances, hazardous waste, air pollution emissions and toxic runoff and marine discharges into our waterways and much, much more.

In 2017, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development published a comprehensive study of CEPA. This study provides a roadmap for the important reforms needed to truly update the law and protect human health and the environment.

We must make CEPA reform an issue in the 2019 federal election. We know what to do to reform CEPA to protect human health and the environment. Now it is a matter of having the political will to do so.

If you are concerned about these issues and want your voice to be heard, we have designed this toolkit for you.

It outlines the various ways in which citizens can educate candidates about the importance of CEPA reform (or any other federal issue). Whether it’s meeting candidates, sending them letters, organizing a debate or publishing an opinion letter in a local newspaper, we provide the necessary tools to know where to start and what to expect.

We hope you will find this toolkit useful. Feel free to send us your comments or questions. Never forget that the more citizens get involved, the stronger our democracy is. And the cleaner our environment, the healthier we all will be.

The members of the CEPA Committee of Breast Cancer Action Quebec

Women Fighting Toxic Exposures

The CEPA Reform We Need

Our Brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development

As many of you know, our chemical regulatory system allows chemicals to go into production and circulation without proof of their safety. We are then required to fight a reactive battle, toxic substance by toxic substance, to prove their harm and get them out of circulation and out of our environment. In many cases, our exposure to toxic substances continues for decades after bans go into effect. 

Currently, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) is up for review, including the vital pollution control and toxic substance regulations. CEPA is the "mother" of our environmental regulations, as it defines toxic chemicals and how they are managed, it outlines the major aspects of pollution emission controls and much more.

Canada is considered by many as having the weakest chemical regulations of all Western countries. In his presentation to the Federal Parliament's Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, the president of the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada said, "We are here to tell you today one key message. The chemicals management plan has been and remains on course to be a stunning public policy success." The chemical industry thinks CEPA and its Chemical Management Plan are excellent and do not need any modifications.

We beg to differ and presented our views in our brief submitted to the Standing Committee. You can read our brief here.