August 2021 Bulletin

Get the Lead Out of Drinking Water

We’ve known for a long time that exposure to even very low levels of lead can have serious health consequences, especially for fetuses and young children. Although there is widespread recognition of the health impacts of lead, we’re not doing nearly enough to address it.

Is lead a problem in the places you live, learn, work or play? As CELA develops our lead removal campaign, we want to hear from you. Please take a moment to fill out this form – you can use it to ask questions, request resources, provide suggestions, or simply let us know that you’d like to stay connected to the campaign. 

CELA renews its call for action on removing lead from our drinking water.  Just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean lead isn’t there – and causing real harm.

Photo Credit – BananaStock, Canva

Were You Impacted by Unfair Disconnection Notices?

The Low-Income Energy Network, a joint program of CELA and the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, is concerned about a recent $100,000 fine to Enbridge Gas for sending out over 18,000 non-compliant disconnection notices. Fair customer service and disconnection rules are an integral part of a comprehensive, fair energy poverty strategy. If you were affected by a non-compliant disconnection notice, you can make a complaint to the Ontario Energy Board here:

Case Updates

CELA Wins Freedom-of-Information Appeal

Since numerous Ontarians rely upon private wells for drinking water purposes, CELA has long advocated strengthening Ontario Regulation 903 (Wells) in order to safeguard public health and the environment. As part of this campaign, CELA filed a freedom-of-information appeal in order to obtain key Regulation 903 records that Ontario’s Environment Ministry had refused to provide to CELA. An adjudicator with the Information and Privacy Commissioner recently agreed with CELA that it was in the public interest for these records to be disclosed, and he ordered the Ministry to send CELA the requested materials.

Update: Constitutional Reference on the Impact Assessment Act

In order to ensure access to environmental justice for our client communities, CELA represented three Ontario-based intervenors in the Alberta Court of Appeal to argue that the federal Impact Assessment Act (IAA) was constitutionally valid. The Court hearing ended in February 2021, and the Court’s decision remains under reserve at the present time. However, the Court recently permitted the parties and intervenors (including CELA’s clients) to file supplementary submissions on the IAA implications of the Supreme Court of Canada’s March 2021 judgment on the constitutionality of federal carbon pricing legislation.  Read more on CELA’s casework page here.

Photo Credit – Rick Lindgren

Update: Clinic Coalition Obtains Leave to Intervene in Supreme Court Appeal

As reported in CELA’s July e-bulletin, CELA is a member of a specialty clinic coalition that proposed to intervene in an upcoming Supreme Court of Canada appeal involving the public interest standing test. The clinic coalition recently announced that the Supreme Court has granted the six clinics leave to intervene in this important appeal, which is scheduled to be argued in November 2021.

Law Reform Updates

Update – Federal Election Impact on Pending Bills

With this month’s federal election call, a number of federal environmental bills were at a critical phase in the parliamentary process, including Bill C-28, an Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), and Bill C-230, an Act respecting the development of a national strategy to redress environmental racism.

With parliament being dissolved, these bills will “die on the order paper”.  In order for legislation that hasn’t been passed to be considered in the next session of Parliament, it must be reintroduced, starting the review process over again.  

Climate Change Review of Marathon Palladium Mine

CELA and Environment North recently responded to the Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed palladium mine in Marathon, ON. Finding a critical lack of greenhouse gas reporting and review of climate impacts, Environment North has asked the Impact Assessment Agency to pause the process until the environmental assessment demonstrates that climate change has been incorporated within the process and at a minimum, all direct emissions have been responsibly measured and offset.  Read the full comments here.

Photo Credit – Kathleen Cooper

Webinars & Resources

Webinar: Justice & Health Community Forum: An Environmental Law Lens on the Social Determinants of Health

The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) is pleased to be co-hosting a Community Forum with the Community Advocacy & Legal Centre (CALC) discussing environmental health and justice perspectives on the social determinants of health.  The session will talk about CELA’s work on access to justice, pollution prevention, and public health and safety, with a particular focus on how we address climate change impacts on vulnerable communities, our work to protect drinking water, indoor environmental health issues, and exposures to toxic substances.  Registration is required.

Recording Available: Willing or Not? Nuclear Waste Burial and Community Consent?

Canada’s nuclear industry is engaged in a multi-year process to secure a burial location for all of Canada’s high level radioactive waste.  

After a decade of investigation, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has now shortlisted two candidate sites, one in each of northwestern and southwestern Ontario. Claiming throughout this process that their search is for an “informed and willing host”, the NWMO has still not defined how “willingness” will be measured, or who makes up the community that can grant consent.

This webinar, originally aired on July 28th, explores questions around consent and willingness in the context of the very long term challenge of nuclear waste. Who decides? And who decides who the decision-makers are?  The presentation slides and online recording are available here.

Recording Available: “Making the Links” in Northern Ontario

This webinar highlights the connections between environment, health and industry in Northern Ontario, and demonstrates how you can use the law to prevent harm to you, your community, and the environment.  The presentation slides and online recording are avialable here.

Update: Water Conversations

CELA has opted to postpone Episode Three of Water Conversations.  While we very much want to host a conversation about Ways of Knowing, and Indigenous and Settler dialogues, we want to take the time to plan this session with the consideration and thought it deserves.  We also do not wish to compete with the other excellent initiatives that are taking place in the same timeframe, including, for example, Watershed 2021 – People’s Water Convention, being hosted by Wellington Water Watchers on October 16th.