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The Invisible Truth: Ontario's Toxin Reduction Act and Blue Green Canada

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Ontario's Toxin Reduction Act and Blue Green Canada

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The United Steelworkers have partnered with the organization Environmental Defence to help initiate Ontario's Toxin Reduction Act, the first of its kind in Canada. The act provides incentives for municipalities looking to reduce their ecological footprints, specifically with regards to sewage, as well as providing lists of safer alternatives to companies that handle toxic chemicals.

As well, the Act requires that businesses employing at least ten people and handling at least 10, 000 kg of specified substances implement stringent measures to track the movement of these substances through the production, and distribution cycle. Companies are asked to come up with pollution prevention programs.

The two organizations have banded together in an initiative called Blue Green Canada, a combination of the previous "blue-collar" jobs with the new "green-collar" sector of the economy. The initiative seeks to create jobs, and both organizations argue that this Act will create green jobs to implement its various measures. They also laud the Act as a good protective measure of human health in the workplace.

While some of the measures instituted by the Act are voluntary, it follows on the heels of similar legislation passed in Massachusetts, which has reported successful results. There is also the potential here for partnerships between Blue Green and the post-secondary sector in order to place recent BSc graduates who might have sufficient expertise in neutralizing the threats of certain toxins or skirting the use of toxic substances altogether. The government could provide further incentives to reduce people's exposure to toxins and mitigate pollution by earmarking research funds for projects that specifically aim to develop non-toxic alternatives to the use of toxins, specifically with regards to chemistry and biology.

This novel initiative shows that unions are heeding the rapid changes in the economy and taking steps not only to protect current workers but to proactively create work, rather than clinging to older models of production.


1 comment:

Trevor_Cunnington said...

I think a partnership with a consumer advocacy group would also complete the "production-distribution-consumption" cycle, and provide more comprehensive protections for people against toxins.