On April 7, 2009, Bill 167, the Toxics Reduction Act, 2009, received first reading in the Ontario legislature. Aimed at reducing the amount of toxic substances used in Ontario, the bill sets out a framework for toxic reduction action by regulated facilities. It is the first of its kind in Canada.

If Bill 167 becomes law, it will require facilities subject to the bill to track and quantify the toxic substances they use, to develop plans for reducing the use of such substances (Toxic Substance Reduction Plans), and to report on their use of toxic substances and the implementation of their Toxic Reduction Plan to the Ministry of the Environment. Some information on facilities’ use of toxic substances would also be made public in accordance with yet-to-be released regulations. The bill will apply to designated facilities that use or create designated toxic substances in specified amounts.

Many of the details of the toxic reduction strategy will be spelled out in regulations under the Toxics Reduction Act, 2009, which have not yet been released. However, the Ministry of the Environment has released a document entitled Backgrounder: Planned Consultations and Next Steps, which proposes that the manufacturing sector and the mining sector engaged in mineral processing activities be prescribed in regulations as subject to the Toxics Reduction Act, 2009. It is possible that other sectors and/or facilities could be prescribed in the future. The Backgrounder: Planned Consultations and Next Steps also contains a draft "Proposed List of Toxic Substances."

The Ontario government has indicated that it plans to invest $24 million to help industries transform their processes, find green chemistry alternatives, and reduce the use of toxic substances in their operations.

The proposal for the Toxics Reduction Act, 2009 was also posted to the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry April 7, 2009 for a 30-day public review (comments are to be submitted by May 7, 2009): www.ebr.gov.on.ca (EBR Registry Number 010-6224).