Ministers miss opportunity to take action on plastic | Ecology Action Centre

Ministers miss opportunity to take action on plastic


K’JIPUKTUK (HALIFAX)  – The Ecology Action Centre is underwhelmed by outcomes from the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment meeting in Halifax. Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna met with provincial and territorial counterparts to discuss continued collaboration on plastic pollution, climate change and environmental protection.

Today, Ministers released the first phase of the action plan to implement the Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste.

Environmental groups across Canada have been urging Federal, Provincial and Territorial Governments to follow up on the federal announcement of June 10 announcing plans to ban single-use plastics and increase recycling. Mark Butler, Policy Director at the Ecology Action Centre, welcomed measures on recycling, specifically extended producer responsibility and national standards, but says today’s announcement is an inadequate and vague response to the plastic crisis.

“Canadians overwhelmingly support action on plastics. The Ministers have not seized the opportunity to take bold and strong action to reduce our use of plastic. We see the influence of the plastics industry here,” Butler says.

Butler says the single most important step the government can take right now is to ban plastics under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, which would classify plastic as a toxin and regulate it as such.

 “We hoped Minister Mckenna would provide more details on the listing of plastics as toxic under CEPA,” Butler says, “While we tend not to think of plastic as a toxin, science is revealing the long-term impacts of micro-plastics on wildlife, the environment and on human health.”

The group is also concerned with the proposed plan to tackle climate change.

“We have less than 11 years to avoid the worst of the climate crisis. Today’s announcement is a step, but is simply is not enough, and does not take seriously enough the enormous opportunity of green jobs and a just transition for workers,” says Stephen Thomas, Energy Campaign Coordinator at EAC.

Thomas says Canada must seriously increase the ambition of its climate targets if we are to limit average warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as per the landmark IPCC report released in October 2018.

Thomas is especially concerned given the recent federal approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion, billions in continued fossil fuel subsidies, offshore exploration and the increase in fossil fuel exports through LNG projects.  

“We know that more than 85 per cent of existing fossil fuel reserves need to be kept in the ground to avoid the worst of the climate crisis. Every new fossil fuel project that is approved, and every public dollar that is spent on oil and gas, or expanding existing infrastructure, is an investment that’s betting against our collective survival,” Thomas says.

“We have run out of time. This is an election year and we need to see a dramatic shift to increased ambition and a just transition from all federal parties”.

The EAC does welcome the announcement that there will be an increased emphasis on bolstering natural infrastructure to lessen the impact of severe weather on built infrastructure.

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For further information, please contact:

Mark Butler
Policy Director, Ecology Action Centre
(902) 266-540


Stephen Thomas
Energy Campaign Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre
(902) 441 7136