LAWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
March 22: After some nervous moments, the Senate passed the recreational cannabis legalization bill (Bill C-45). But legalization, originally slated for July 1, 2018, will still be pushed back at least one month to an as yet unnamed date. While Parliamentary wrangling provided the immediate excuse, a delay was inevitable to give the provinces and territories ample time to implement their own local legalization plans. [Go to the OHSI website to find out the status and progress of legalization in your own jurisdiction.]
March: A bill making sexual and other forms of workplace harassment a hazard covered by OHS laws remains tied up in committee although ultimate passage still seems a certainty. Bill C-65 expands the meaning of “workplace violence” in the OHS law to include “physiological” injuries and illnesses. Other key provisions:
- Employer duty to prevent and investigate harassment incidents
- Privacy and reprisal protections for workers who complain of harassment
- New worker right to have complaints investigated by neutral third parties and/or resolve complaints via informal resolution.
March 20: The newly published 2018 Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory documents Canada’s progress in reducing industrial emissions. Highlights:
- Decreases driven by lower emissions from mining, smelting and coal-powered electric generation
- Emissions of most pollutants going down
- Exceptions: Ammonia and large particulate matter emissions have increased
- Heavy metal emissions, including mercury and lead, down over 85% since 1990
- Nitrogen oxide emissions down 25% and volatile organic compound emissions down 42% over same period.
March 19: A bill (Bill C-69) affecting the environmental impact assessment process for development projects received second reading and went to committee. Highlights:
- Expanded scope of projects that must go through review process
- New early engagement stage to boost public participation
- Shorter timelines to speed up process
- Publication of brief, clear summaries of each decision to promote transparency
- All federal assessments to be done by single agency called Impact Assessment Agency of Canada.
Feb. 13: Also receiving second reading was Bill C-68 revising the Fisheries Act. Highlights:
- Current “causing serious harm to fish” broken into 2 separate prohibitions—causing death to fish and “harmful alteration, disruption and destruction” of fish habitat (HADD)
- HADD includes temporary harms that don’t kill and don’t last
- New ban on harm to ecologically significant areas
- New category of projects that must get Fisheries Act
March 22: The government took steps to increase the portion of protected marine and coastal areas to 10% by 2020, including:
- Creation of Eastern Shore Islands Area Of Interest (AOI) in eastern Nova Scotia
- Creation of Fundian Channel-Browns Bank AOI 120 km south of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
- Proposed designation of Marine Protected Area covering both AOIs.
March 21: The $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan provides funding for measures to protect the Southern Resident Killer Whale, the North Atlantic Right Whale, the St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga and other endangered marine species.