The role of President of CCME rotates among the 14 ministers of environment on an annual basis. The Honourable James Arreak, Minister of Environment for Nunavut, currently leads the Council.
Forty-eight years ago governments recognized that many of the emerging challenges of environmental management could only be addressed collectively. So, in 1964 the ministers responsible for environmental matters agreed to establish the body which would become the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME).
It has been Alberta’s privilege to be the chair jurisdiction this past year, and it has been my pleasure to serve as President of CCME.
The environmental challenges which face us as ministers of environment are becoming larger and more complex. We face the need for action on water and climate change, for balancing new economic development with environmental sustainability, for maintaining and enhancing our abilities as environmental managers in a time of fiscal constraint. As federal, provincial and territorial governments reshape the ways we fulfill our responsibilities constructive dialogue, collaborative approaches and collective action have never been more necessary. CCME, therefore, is more important than ever.
Two years ago we embarked on a new approach to addressing air pollution in this country. We set out an ambitious agenda to develop collaboratively the elements of a Canada-wide air quality management system including new Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS) for particulate matter and ozone and Base-level Industrial Emission Requirements (BLIERs) for several industrial sectors. We have established mechanisms to address mobile sources of air pollutants. Unprecedented numbers of jurisdictional staff participated in this work, along with health and environmental non-government organisations and industry representatives. Most importantly, we did this collaboratively.
Water is a priority issue for Canadians and remains a key concern to CCME as we continue work on our three-year water action plan. Some of the many activities now underway include the development of a framework for groundwater sustainability and Canada-wide principles for integrated watershed management, guidance for jurisdictions adapting their water monitoring networks to a changing climate, and the continuing development of water quality guidelines.
Ministers endorsed the Canada-wide Strategy for the Management of Municipal Wastewater Effluent in February 2009 and since then jurisdictions have begun implementing the Strategy, each focusing on its own priority areas. A further significant step in implementing the Strategy has been the publication by the federal government in Canada Gazette II of Wastewater Effluent Sewer Regulations. Consultation on the shape of these Regulations over the past two years has demonstrated once again the value of close collaboration among all orders of government on these major environmental initiatives.
Wastewater biosolids was identified as a new priority during the development of the Canada-wide Strategy for the Management of Municipal Wastewater Effluent. Over the last two years CCME has been developing a Canada-wide approach for the management of wastewater biosolids. As with other major CCME initiatives this work has engaged numerous jurisdictional staff and consulted at key points with stakeholders.
CCME continues to be concerned about environmentally sound waste management in Canada; jurisdictions continue to work towards the development and implementation of extended producer responsibility programs, consistent with the Canada-wide Action Plan for Extended Producer Responsibility approved by ministers in 2009. Ministers have expressed a particular concern with reducing the amount of packaging and CCME has been working closely and productively with industry associations and leading corporations to respond to that concern.
All this work and more is done largely by the staff of our respective departments who come together in various CCME workgroups. To all those employees I want to express a heartfelt thank you for your dedication and commitment.
As ministers of environment we should be justifiably proud of our accomplishments through this remarkable forum, particularly those that took place over the span of this very busy and challenging year. Each government contributes to our collective success, and we all benefit from that success. It is my hope and expectation that all governments will continue to support, utilize and benefit from this Council.
Honourable Diana McQueen
Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resources Development