Queen’s Park, Toronto. The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) and Dr. Adam Winterton of Chesley, Ontario announced their intention to formally require the Minister of Environment to consider the introduction of a Safe Drinking Water Act. Once filed with the Environmental Commissioner, under the provision of the Environmental Bill of Rights, Minister Newman will be required to review the need for this legislation.
Similar legislation in the United States has improved drinking water quality across the country and decreased the occurrence of water borne disease outbreaks, over the past twenty-five years. Following the tragic deaths in Walkerton, Minister Newman has proposed a drinking water regulation that was hastily released for public comment late last week. The short comment period closed today, citing a delay could result in serious danger to public health.
“There is little doubt that the current Ontario Water Resources Act is insufficient to meet the challenges of protecting water quality in Ontario communities,” stated Rick Lindgren, a lawyer with CELA. “However, the Minister’s new regulation is at best a band-aid solution, addressing only short term needs.
“There is no Ontario law specifically designed to safeguard the province’s drinking water, particularly at the point of consumption. Ontario also lacks enforceable drinking water standards. A Safe Drinking Water Act would entrench the public’s right to safe drinking water and re-establish a ‘safety net’ dismantled by the current government’s downsizing, downloading and de-regulation.
In a related move, TEA submitted additional requests to the Minister for immediate action on the publication of a Consumer Confidence Report related to drinking water, a review and revision of the Provincial Water Quality Objectives and the reinstatement of $9.3 million taken out of the Beaches Clean Up Program. “Strong actions need to be taken by this government to instill public trust and confidence in our water supplies so that families can feel at ease when they turn on the tap,” said Shelley Petrie, spokesperson for TEA.
For more information:
Rick Lindgren, CELA 416 960 2284
Shelley Petrie, TEA 416 596-0660
Dr. Adam Winterton, Chesley Medical Clinic, 519 363 3220