There’s nothing smart about “smart regulation”—report

September 14, 2006

OTTAWA—Federal deregulation—euphemistically called “smart regulation”—poses a serious threat to public health and the environment, says a new report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The study, by CCPA Executive Director Bruce Campbell and CCPA-BC Senior Economist Marc Lee, warns against federal efforts to place large hurdles in the path of new regulations for to protect the environment and human health. It also raises an alarm about efforts to harmonize Canadian regulations with the United States that could result in an alarming loss of policy autonomy for the federal government.

“The so-called ‘smart regulation’ exercise is really deregulation by another name,” said Marc Lee. “To resort to such Orwellian language points to an agenda that most Canadians will find unpalatable.”

The report finds no evidence that deregulation will improve Canada’s economic performance, only that Canadians will be exposed to greater risks. The report is particularly critical of the work of the federal government’s Policy Research Initiative, which has failed to take a balanced assessment of pros and cons of deregulation.

The authors point to evidence that Canada is under-regulated, not over-regulated. “Growing incidence of cancer, rising asthma rates, and greater neurological disorders suggest that untested environmental toxins may be a big part of the problem,” Campbell says. “Under current regulatory methods, it could be decades before substances thought to be toxic, but not proven conclusively in a scientific sense, are banned or even restricted.”

The report calls for:

  • increased use of the precautionary principle in regulatory decision-making;
  • additional resources and staffing to properly enforce existing regulations and to undertake independent research;
  • enhanced public participation to increase transparency, accountability, and legitimacy of the regulatory process; and
  • cooperation with other nations, in particular the EU, to raise environmental and health standards.

Putting Canadians At Risk: How the federal government’s deregulation agenda threatens health and environmental standards is available on the CCPA web site:

For more information contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306.