Canadian Chemical Regulations: An View From Above

Quality professionals focus on Europe, the US and even China — as with China REACH and China RoHS for example — when we speak of chemical regulations.  Sometimes we overlook Canada when we say “global.”

This is a mistake. Many supply chains go through Canada, and Canadian substance-level regulations are not shrinking violets at the regulatory compliance dance.

One really good way to stay on top of Canadian environmental law is to read the annual Blake’s Guide to Environmental Law in Canada. The document is an effective introduction to the principal laws and regulations in Canada and the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec and Ontario, concerning environmental protection and conservation.

Specific advice should be sought in connection with particular matters or transactions — questions can be routed to the authors of this blog or to the environmental lawyers listed in the guide.

Key subjects include:

  1. Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA)
  2. Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA)
  3. Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992 (TDGA)
  4. Hazardous Products Act (HPA) and Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA)
  5. Pest Control Products Act, 2002 (PCPA)
  6. Fisheries Act
  7. Canada Shipping Act
  8. Marine Liability Act
  9. Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA)
  10. Oceans Act
  11. Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act
  12. Species at Risk Act (SARA)
  13. Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (MBCA)
  14. Canada National Parks Act
  15. Criminal Law
  16. Energy Efficiency Act

The Canadian law firm Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP has issued Blake’s Guide to Environmental Law in Canada.

The guide also provides an overview of environmental law in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia.

Canadian law and toxic substances. CEPA, the Canadian EPA, provides the federal government with “cradle to grave” regulatory authority over substances considered toxic. CEPA provides for assessment of “new” substances not included on the Domestic Substances List, a national inventory of chemical and biotechnical substances.

It’s required that an importer or manufacturer must notify the federal government of a new substance before manufacture or importation can take place in Canada. Consequently, businesses must build in a sufficient lead-time for the introduction of new chemicals or biotechnology products into the Canadian marketplace. In certain circumstances, manufacturers and importers must also report new activities involving approved new substances so they can be re-evaluated.

All existing substances included on the Domestic Substances List are in the process of being
assessed by Environment Canada for bioaccumulation, persistence and inherent toxicity
(BPIT). Currently, Environment Canada is in the process of collecting information and
conducting risk assessments with respect to a series of “Batches” as part of the “Challenge to Industry” program.

Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, a substance is “toxic” if it is entering or may enter the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that;

  1. have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity
  2. constitute or may constitute a danger to the environment on which life depends or
  3. constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health

Substances that are persistent, bioaccumulative, and result primarily from human activity
must be placed on the Virtual Elimination List. Listed toxic substances include:

  1. PCBs
  2. CFCs
  3. chlorinated solvents

You can contact us or contact the Blakes, a law firm that regularly produces reports and special publications on Canadian legal developments. For further information about these reports and publications, please visit

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About Kal

Kal Kawar, CIH, PE, has a bachelor's in chemical engineering and a master's in industrial hygiene. His professional experience includes serving as staff industrial hygienist for IBM's New York semiconductor manufacturing facility, and as industrial hygienist for IBM’s US headquarters. Now executive vice president of Actio, Kal taps more than 20 years' worth of chemical engineering, industrial hygiene, and environmental engineering experience. His far-reaching expertise with global regulatory challenges created by EPA, TSCA, REACH, RoHS, WEEE – and hundreds of others – aid in developing Actio software solutions for MSDS management, raw material disclosure compliance, and product stewardship in a supply chain.