The role of President of CCME rotates among the 14 ministers of environment on an annual basis. The Honourable Janice Sherry, Minister of Environment, Labour and Justice for Prince Edward Island, currently leads the Council.
It has been Nunavut’s great honour to host the Council of Ministers this year and it has been my personal privilege to serve as President of CCME.
The success of CCME in the past and in the future is rooted deeply in its commitment to the principle of consensus decision-making. This principle resonates strongly for Nunavut, as our territory has a consensus-style of government rather than the more common system of party politics.
Nunavut covers a very large area but has a very small population. Our provision of environmental management services has been greatly enabled and enhanced through our membership and participation in CCME. In fact many of our environmental standards are based, in part, on standards developed though our collaboration with other Canadian jurisdictions through CCME.
Over this year of my presidency CCME has continued to produce the policies, the guidance and the tools that enable us all to better do our jobs. The Air Quality Management System (AQMS) continues to be implemented, and this year work on emissions from mobile sources took a major step forward. The first Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter and Ozone have been published in the Canada Gazette and work has begun on the next set of standards. The active engagement with stakeholders has been recognized as a key factor in the successful development of AQMS. CCME will continue to engage with stakeholders and has adopted a broad strategy, including a new stakeholder advisory group, to integrate the voices of stakeholders into our work to address air emissions.
Waste is always a challenging issue. Jurisdictions continue to work toward the development and implementation of extended producer responsibility programs, consistent with the Canada-wide Action Plan for Extended Producer Responsibility. We have been building solid and constructive relationships with industry associations and leading corporations to reduce packaging waste. I am pleased to note that industry partners have been working to meet the waste reduction commitments they made to ministers in 2012. The commitment to facilitate the development and implementation of a national voluntary design guide has been met and this important international tool will be formally launched very soon.
CCME is currently addressing four major strategic priorities for water so that: aquatic ecosystems are protected on a sustainable watershed basis; the conservation and wise use of water is promoted; water quality and quantity management is improved; and climate change impacts are reduced through adaptive strategies. Our water quality work is addressing impacts associated with nutrient loading. To support the conservation and wise use of water we are developing tools to evaluate cumulative impacts of water withdrawals in watersheds and aquifers, including interactions between ground and surface water. We continue to develop environmental quality guidelines in priority areas and tools to aid jurisdictions to address increasing pressures on groundwater resources. And we are developing tools to assist jurisdictions in adapting to climate change effects on water, particularly water scarcity and flood management.
All Canadians are seeing the results of climate change, but the impacts and the need to adapt are felt much more keenly in the North. Our system of Inuit traditional knowledge and social values is based on a long and close relationship with the land and environment. It gives us rich and detailed insight into climate change and adaptation, as well as context to help understand how climate change will impact our culture, communities, and individuals. I urge my colleagues to listen to your own sources of traditional knowledge, combine it with the findings of science, and together let us work collaboratively to find the best ways to mitigate and adapt to the changes we now see every day.
I would like to acknowledge the effort and ongoing commitment of my ministerial colleagues, our deputy ministers and all the department staff whom we commit to the work of CCME. Our investment in CCME continues to provide great benefits to each jurisdiction individually, and to Canadians collectively.
Honourable James Arreak
Minister of Environment