The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) is a non-profit, public interest organization established in 1970 to use existing laws to protect the environment and to advocate environmental law reforms. Funded by Legal Aid Ontario, CELA is one of 73 community legal clinics located across Ontario, 13 of which offer services in specialized areas of the law (for contact information, see Getting Legal Help: A Directory Community Legal Clinics in Ontario). CELA also undertakes additional educational and law reform projects funded by government and private foundations. To find out more see our most recent Annual Report.
CELA works toward protecting public health and the environment by seeking justice for those harmed by pollution or poor decision-making and by changing policies to prevent problems in the first place. Since 1970, CELA has used legal tools, undertaken groundbreaking research and advocated for increased environmental protection and to safeguard communities. In fulfilling our legal aid mandate, our primary focus is on assisting low-income people and disadvantaged communities.
When implementing our legal aid mandate, CELA’s strategic priorities include:
- Access to Environmental Justice
- Pollution Prevention and Public Health and Safety
Therein, CELA places high priority on cases, law reform work, and public legal education aimed at ensuring access to environmental justice and safe, healthy, and livable communities.
Environment is a Social Justice Issue
Poverty and environmental degradation have multiple impacts on the most vulnerable. Such communities can lack power or a voice at the same time as they are disproportionately exposed to greater pollution or historic pollution legacies. Low income neighbourhoods receive relatively poor protection from adverse environmental impacts, including from climate change, under Ontario and Canadian law (see blog). We have mapped low income neighbourhoods by postal code showing a strong correlation between poverty and pollution.