Canada works to cut pollution from shipping, improve safety standards for workers

OTTAWA, ON, Canada, Nov. 24, 2009 -- Canada is taking important steps to help reduce air and water pollution from ships in Canadian waters, and ensure the safety of vessels, goods and workers...

OTTAWA, ON, Canada, Nov. 24, 2009 -- The Government of Canada announced today that Canada is taking important steps to help reduce air and water pollution from ships in Canadian waters, and ensure the safety of vessels, goods and workers.

The government will ratify international conventions related to marine pollution and maritime safety, which builds on other actions taken, including introducing the Clean Air Act in 2007, passing legislation to hold ship owners more accountable for environmental disasters and doubling Canada's jurisdiction over Arctic waters.

"Ratifying these conventions will demonstrate Canada's commitment to adopting uniform international standards for maritime safety and protecting the marine environment," said the Honorable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs. "Our government is taking action to protect public health, the environment and biodiversity, and to promote fair labor standards here and abroad."

"This is one more way for Canada to ensure environmentally responsible shipping while creating economic opportunities for Canadian companies," said Canada's Transport Minister John Baird. "It will confirm the reputation of Canadian ships as quality carriers that meet international environmental and safety standards."

"These changes will mean less garbage and ship sewage polluting Canadian waters," said the Honorable Jim Prentice, Minister of the Environment. "This is one more example of our government's commitment to working with the United States and other countries to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions."

The ratified International Maritime Organization and International Labor Organization conventions will:

- reduce air and water pollution;
- better protect the marine environment and biodiversity;
- ensure the safety of vessels, goods and workers on board;
- create economic opportunities for Canadian companies; and
- enhance the competitiveness of Canadian ships.

Specifically, the International Maritime Organization conventions will make a tangible contribution to reducing marine pollution from ship sewage, garbage and environmentally harmful paints; controlling atmospheric emissions from ships; and improving ballast water management (to reduce the risk of releasing invasive aquatic species into Canadian waters).

"The Maritime Labor Convention, 2006 demonstrates the Government of Canada's commitment to decent working conditions for seafarers in Canada and around the world, and it represents our most significant maritime labor initiative to date," said the Honorable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Labor. "Ratifying these conventions will bring significant benefits and protections to Canadian workers and industry."

The conventions were tabled in the House of Commons on October 9, 2009, followed by a period of 21 sitting days to inform members of Parliament and to give the House of Commons an opportunity to comment on the treaties. The 21 sitting days ended on November 23, 2009, and the government will now proceed to bring them into force.

Ratifying the conventions enables Canada to fully enforce environmental and safety standards, and complements several government priorities, as well as pollution prevention efforts of provinces and municipalities. Canada will also be able to provide leadership and influence on international maritime labor standards, and demonstrate its commitment to fair labor rules and working conditions for seafarers.

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