July 2019 Bulletin

Photo: Dhinakaran Gajavarathan/Flickr

Upcoming Events

Province-wide Day of Action (July 30)

The Ontario government has significantly reduced funding to Legal Aid Ontario in its last budget, resulting in a 30 per cent reduction to CELA’s budget over the next two years. We are planning to join a province-wide “Day of Action” to call for the government to reverse the cuts to legal aid clinics on July 30.

On July 30, please contact the following people to let ask them to reverse the cuts to CELA and other Legal Aid Ontario clinics:

  • Contact your MPP: Find out who your MPP is by checking here. If you need assistance determining who your MPP is, let us know.
  • Contact Attorney General Doug Downey: attorneygeneral@ontario.ca or 705-726-5538
  • Contact Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Jeff Yurek: minister.mecp@ontario.ca or 416-314-6790
We also invite you to take part in one of the many local actions taking place across the province. (This Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario website will be continuously updated as more actions are announced.) We thank you for your support!

Common law tools for protecting the environment webinar (July 30)

 If Canadians suffer harm, loss or injury from pollution, civil litigation may be undertaken to obtain compensation, injunctions, or other appropriate relief. In such cases, plaintiffs may rely upon various “torts” (civil wrongs) that have been developed by judges at common law. In addition, it may be open to plaintiffs to utilize statutory rights to sue that have been enacted by legislatures. This upcoming webinar featuring CELA counsel Richard Lindgren will review the legal basis for suing polluters, discuss the types of court orders that may be requested, and examine the pros/cons of using civil actions to safeguard environmental and public health. (A recording of the webinar will be made available to all those who register until September 30, 2019.)

Canada-Ontario Agreement consultations webinar (July 31)

CELA and Environmental Defence Canada are hosting a webinar to provide key insights on the renegotiation of the draft Canada-Ontario Agreement for Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health. This agreement is essential in guiding the federal and provincial governments’ efforts to protect and restore the waters of the Great Lakes – St Lawrence River Basin. Comments on the draft agreement are being accepted until September 4th.

News & Activities

Improving the province’s resilience to flooding

CELA partnered with Environmental Defence to make recommendations to the consultation by Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry regarding flooding resilience. We recommended that the province implement integrated watershed management which provides direction to human activities in order to protect water, invest more in conservation authorities and services to provide flood mitigation, protect wetlands, and protect and restore natural heritage sites. Our recommendations were endorsed by more than 15 organizations.

Strengthening SCCP regulations for the Great Lakes

CELA joined the National Wildlife Federation and Toxics Free Great Lakes to comment on the draft Great Lakes Binational Strategy for Short-Chain Chlorinated Paraffins (SCCPs) Risk Management. We made several recommendations to better protect the Great Lakes Basin, wildlife population and human health from exposure to SCCPs and address chemicals of mutual concern under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. We recommended that the SCCP Strategy identify ongoing concerns with SCCPs in the Great Lakes, ensure all key historic and current activities in the U.S. and Canada affecting SCCPs are emphasized in the Strategy, and that it commit to addressing waste stream for SCCPs, among others.
April Weppler is CELA’s new engagement coordinator with the Healthy Great Lakes Program.

Engagement coordinator joins CELA’s Healthy Great Lakes program

With funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, CELA has hired April Weppler as the part-time engagement coordinator with our Healthy Great Lakes program. April comes to CELA with 15 years of communications and engagement experience in conservation. April has worked with Ontario Nature, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, and Freshwater Future Canada. Welcome April!

Canada’s role under the Basel Convention plastics amendments

Earlier this year Canada joined more than 180 countries in a consensus decision to bring plastic wastes under the control regime of the Basel Convention. In a submission to the Minister Environment and Climate Change Canada, CELA joined several organizations in expressing our concern that powerful industry bodies have called for their governments to object to these obligations. We urge Canada to resist efforts at creating a global double standard and work towards acceptance of the Amendments without objections. CELA also joined other organizations in calling on the ministry to support the ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment, which prohibits developed countries like Canada from exporting their hazardous wastes to developing countries.
Fighting Dirty: How a Small Community Took on Big Trash by Poh-Gek Forkert has been shortlisted for the Ontario Legislative Assembly Speaker’s Book Award 2019.

Book on CELA landfill case shortlisted for award

A book that chronicles the lengthy (and ultimately successful) battle by CELA clients and a First Nation against a controversial landfill expansion has been short-listed for an award given annually by the Speaker of the Ontario Legislative Assembly. Fighting Dirty: How a Small Community Took on Big Trash by Poh-Gek Forkert features insightful profiles of the main opponents of the landfill proposal, including CELA counsel Richard Lindgren who represented the local residents’ group.

Have you tested your home for radon?

Among non-smokers, the leading cause of lung cancer is an invisible and odourless radioactive gas known as radon that comes from the natural decay of uranium in soil and rock. While radon levels are generally low outdoors, in air-tight or poorly ventilated spaces like your home, concentrations of the gas can build up. There is no area of Canada that is ‘radon free’ and testing is the only way to detect it in your home. If your home exceeds the guideline of 200 Bq/m3, every effort should be made to remediate, which may require the installation of radon fans to vent enclosed spaces, like basements, or sealing cracks that might be emitting the gas. Unfortunately, the cost to remediate can be prohibitive (ranging from $1500 – $3500), creating a barrier for many low-income households. Though initiatives like Take Action on Radon and within CPCHE, CELA continues to raise awareness about radon and incentivize radon remediation to ensure solutions are accessible to all Canadians.
Loon. (Photo: dackelprincess/Flickr)

On the CELA blog

A new Registry for Environmental Notices in Ontario

If you live in Ontario you have important rights about the decisions your government makes about the environment. You must be notified and given an opportunity to provide input before decisions are made on certain environmentally significant proposals. These public notice and participation rights exist under Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR). The government’s main online tool for this public interaction has recently been upgraded as CELA counsel Rashin Alizadeh explains in this blog post.

Canada’s Impact Assessment Act: A Public Interest Perspective

Parliament recently gave Royal Assent to Bill C-69. Despite the mixed reviews, some environmental organizations generally welcomed the passage of Bill C-69, and expressed relief that the Bill was enacted without most of the contentious amendments put forward by the Senate. CELA counsel Richard Lindgren outlines the significance of this new legislation in this blog post.