Media Release: Environmentalists Urge All-Party Support For Proposed Safe Drinking Water Law In Ontario

Media Release

Toronto. In an open letter addressed to Premier Mike Harris, Dalton McGuinty, and Howard Hampton, the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) has called upon all three political parties to commit to the speedy passage of Bill 96, the Safe Drinking Water Act, 2000.

CELA’s request comes as Bill 96 goes to Second Reading debate today in the Ontario Legislature. Bill 96 is a private member’s bill introduced by MPP Marilyn Churley, NDP Environment Critic, on June 15, 2000. If enacted, Bill 96 would:

  • entrench the public right to clean and safe drinking water;
  • impose legally binding requirements for testing, monitoring and reporting upon drinking water quality;
  • create a water quality registry to compile all water testing results for public water systems;
  • prohibit the distribution of unsafe drinking water, the pollution of public or private water systems, and the failure to undertake prescribed testing or reporting measures;
  • enable Ontarians to go to court to enforce legal duties imposed by the law, and to seek compensation for damages arising from contraventions of the law;
  • create a Water Advisory Committee to advise the Environment Minister on matters affecting drinking water quality;
  • enable the Environment Minister to create a Safe Drinking Water Fund to provide financial assistance to public water suppliers; and
  • require the passage of a new regulation setting out enforceable limits for drinking water contaminants.

CELA’s open letter notes that “CELA has long advocated the enactment of safe drinking water legislation in Ontario”, and concludes that Bill 96 “codifies a number of important rights and remedies for protecting drinking water and its sources.

“Accordingly, the open letter “calls upon all parties to ensure that Bill 96 receives Second Reading and is referred to committee for hearings. Safe drinking water is not a partisan issue, and we request the cooperation of all parties to ensure the speedy passage of this long overdue legislation.”

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For further information contact:

Richard Lindgren, Counsel, CELA 416-960-2284