Women’s health groups demand better action on toxic pollution following damning Auditor General report

TORONTO / MONTREAL - Women’s health organizations are calling for stronger protections for Canadians, and better enforcement of pollution laws, following a damning report from the Auditor General on the federal government’s failure to manage carcinogens and hormone disruptors.

“This report tells us what we already know in our families and communities - we are exposed to more and more cancer-causing and hormone-disrupting substances each day, and our laws are not strong enough to protect us,” said Cassie Barker, Executive Director of the Women’s Healthy Environments Network.

The Auditor General outlined nine recommendations for  the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA 1999), which is managed by both Health Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada, saying that the government “lacked timely access to information about which businesses were regulated, had not yet set time frames to follow up on violations, and had not addressed all of the enforceability issues it had identified in regulations.”

Jennifer Beeman, Executive Director of Breast Cancer Action Quebec stated,  “We cannot stand by and watch our governments fail to clean up polluting industries and toxic products - we need action on pollution, and much stronger chemicals management in this country.”

The government is failing to adequately inform Canadians through their websites, which according to the report make it “difficult for Canadians to find information to make informed choices about toxic substances.” It also states that the law is not enforced in any prioritized way that links their action to real risks to human health and the environment.

In addition, the Auditor General identified government inaction in their failure to address the AG 2009 report, recommendations which have still not been addressed a decade later, and yet there has been over $1 billion spent on this program since 2005.

“We needed action decades ago, and we still need it today. The future of our hormonal, reproductive and neurodevelopmental health depend on better toxics laws, and on leadership in the chemical, manufacturing and products sectors of our economy” said Patricia Kearns, Research and Networking Advisor of Breast Cancer Action Quebec.

Though the government has made some progress on managing substances such as mercury and lead, it has not measured its progress on other toxics such as flame retardants, dioxins, furans and PCBs. According to the report, these chemicals are linked to “cancer, hormonal disruptions, neurological problems in humans, and a range of problems in wildlife.”

Cassie Barker, WHEN 416-928-0880
Jennifer Beeman, BCAQ 514-483-1846