Ontarians eager to move the province towards a low carbon economy, including a commitment to good, green jobs, can have their say during recently launched public consultations.
The release of Ontario’s Climate Change Discussion Paper starts a 45-day public consultation which will inform the province’s climate change strategy and action plan expected to be released later this year. Along with written submissions, feedback will be gathered at town hall meetings across Ontario during February and March.
Among the province’s key proposals are greenhouse gas reduction targets and a carbon pricing regime. Many health, safety and environmental advocates however encourage bolder approaches which go beyond modes of transportation and how we make and use energy.
Extended producer responsibility or “polluter pays” programs, shift the burden for the environmental impact of a product from governments and consumers to producers. This encourages better product design and can improve worker and community health.
Thinking about what things are made of and how they are made can help improve the health of workers, communities and the planet. For example, heavily polluting fossil fuels power factories and homes but are also used to make many chemicals and plastics and consumer products from paint to shampoo. Sourcing safer substances to manufacture goods and reducing consumption of polluting products have the potential to minimize worker and community exposures and reduce greenhouse gases that cause climate change.
Many believe improving and supporting Ontario’s Toxics Reduction Act
will go some way to assisting with the climate change challenge. The legislation requires certain businesses to track and quantify the toxic substances they use and create, develop toxics reduction plans and make summaries of their plans available to the public. However, implementing the plans is only voluntary. Massachusetts’ model Toxics Use Reduction Act
sets out similar tracking, reporting and toxics reduction planning for large chemical users, but fees, paid by reporting companies, support several government agencies including the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI)
. Agencies like TURI offer critical support to help workplaces find safer, less polluting alternatives.
The climate change consultation feedback deadline is March 29, 2015
Be sure to check out the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change’s dedicated web pages for more details:
Ontario climate change consultation
Climate Change Discussion Paper
For our part, the Workers Health and Safety Centre, through our Earth Day in the Schools
program, has long communicated the link between environmental impacts and worker and community health and the many ways workplaces and governments can move towards a greener, cleaner economy.
The WHSC also offers training programs
to help workplace parties understand their legal duties and responsibilities related to workplace hazards including harmful chemicals. Many of these same programs offer essential insight into the information and tools needed to reduce or eliminate exposure to harmful chemicals.
To learn more: