July 2021 Bulletin

Summer at CELA

At CELA, tremendous value is placed on building capacity for the environmental and social justice community. A fundamental part of this focuses on training and mentoring young lawyers and other professionals eager to enter the field. This past summer, CELA welcomed seven talented and passionate students to the team. Their range of talents and expertise were an integral part of CELA’s work, and we’re proud to feature a selection of their work in this month’s Bulletin.

Each year, in addition to partnering with organizations and academic institutions that support student placements, CELA employs an articling student whose focus is on administrative and environmental law. CELA’s articling student program is supported by the Canadian Environmental Law Foundation. Donations in support of this program are appreciated.

Clockwise from top left: Kanisha Acharya-Patel, Peter Hillson, Eneria Mucaj, Adam Clasky, Jane Fallis Cooper, Sara Shams, Amanda Mcaleer

Case Updates

Specialty Clinic Coalition Seeks Leave to Intervene in Supreme Court Appeal

In order to safeguard access to justice for low-income persons and vulnerable or disadvantaged communities, CELA has recently joined five other specialty legal clinics in seeking leave to intervene in an important appeal in the Supreme Court of Canada. The appeal arises from a B.C. judgment, and focuses on the proper application of the test for granting public interest standing to groups or organizations that launch legal proceedings in relation to legislative, regulatory or administrative matters. The appeal is scheduled to be heard in November 2021.

Law Reform Updates

Prioritizing Passage of Strong CEPA Critical to Protecting Health and Environment for Future Generations

In our June issue, we talked about a number of federal environmental bills that were at a critical phase in the parliamentary process.  Key amongst these is Bill C-28, an Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), which has yet to be passed. 

CELA continues to advocate for changes to Bill C-28 by engaging with elected members and co-hosting a webinar with Nature Canada that outlined key issues such as the right to a healthy environment, impacts on vulnerable populations, amendments to Schedule 1 – List of Toxic Substances, and Part 6 on Genetically Engineered Organisms.

CELA law interns also recently prepared a webinar on Bill C-28, aimed at students, with a focus on proposals to the bill in the evaluation and listing of toxic substances,  consideration of Gender Based Analysis, and the importance of a federal commitment to protect vulnerable groups from toxic substances.

In the coming weeks, CELA anticipates releasing its full analysis of Bill C-28 in preparation for the coming fall parliamentary session.

Advocates Call for Ontario to Improve Tracking of Heat-related Deaths

Advocates from the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO), The Advocacy Centre for the Elderly (ACE), The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), and the Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) are raising the alarm about the growing impact of heat-related deaths in Ontario, as the incidence of extreme heat days increases due to the intensifying climate crisis.

Their recent media release builds on a letter sent earlier this month to the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario, expressing concern about the increasing impact of extreme heat on our client communities. Vulnerable people are more prone to heat-related death. With the climate crisis worsening, it is essential that the Coroner’s Office improves its tracking of heat-related deaths to better capture the true impact of extreme heat and to allow for government policy to address the full extent of the problem.

Time to End the Carbon Capture of Climate Policy

In an open letter sent to leaders in the United States and Canada, more than 500 US, Canadian, and international organizations called on policymakers in both countries to reject carbon capture and storage (CCS) and Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) as dangerous distractions and to end the “carbon capture of climate policy.”   Read the full media release here.

Photo Credit – Linda Pim

Report – Workers Environmental Rights in Canada

CELA and the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) have jointly released a report exploring the presence of, and potential for, workers’ environmental rights in Canada. The report, funded by Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change based at York University, looks at existing laws in Canada and proposes a framework  to advance workers’ environmental rights. Authored by Kerrie Blaise (CELA) and Nadia Ibrahim (NUPGE), the report aims to serve as a tool for action on climate change and just transition to a sustainable economy.

Concern over Small Modular Nuclear Reactors in Manitoba

The local government in Pinawa, Manitoba (home to the Whiteshell nuclear reactor, currently being decommissioned) is in the process of seeking approval for a Small Modular Nuclear Reactor to be sited at Pinawa with the intention of providing electrical power to the town, in addition to being a demonstration site for the technology. CELA and several other NGOs and individuals have written to The Hon. Brian Pallister, Premier of Manitoba, expressing their  concerns about the due diligence that should be required before authorizing, or investing in, any new nuclear reactors in the Province of Manitoba, or in Canada, as a whole.

Ontario’s Land Use Compatibility Guideline

In June, CELA provided general and specific comments in response to Ontario’s proposed Land Use Compatibility Guideline which is intended to update a number of existing D-series guidelines for municipalities to use when making land use planning decisions (ERO 019-2785). CELA recommended that the Ministry of Conservation, Environment and Parks should account for a risk- based approach in the context of compliance; include cumulative impact assessment; and, apply an equity lens in crafting the Guidelines.

Photo Credit – Lynn Reist

Inside CELA

Congratulations & Introductions

We are thrilled to celebrate Krystal-Anne Roussel’s transition from student-at-law to counsel.  Our sincere thanks to Krystal for all her hard work as CELA’s past articling student, and we are so pleased you are continuing with us into the Fall!

We’re equally thrilled to introduce our newest articling student, Maneka Kaur. Maneka started with CELA in June, and talks about her views on Canada’s environmental challenges in her “Faces of CELA” profile.

Webinars & Resources

Get the Lead Out of Drinking Water – An Information Session
Thursday, August 19th, 1pm-2pm ET

Register now to hold your spot!

This webinar will feature information about the health impacts of lead in our drinking water, feature a community case study, and provide key recommendations on what various levels of government and utilities need to do to ensure safe drinking water for everyone in Ontario.  Learn whether your home or community might be at risk, how you can protect your health, and how you can help to effect change.

Bed Bugs & Pesticides – Making Informed Choices

We have updated our Bed Bugs and Pesticides- Information for Tenants in Ontario fact sheet in light of ongoing regulatory reviews of pyrethroid pesticides by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA).

The fact sheet addresses tenant legal rights and responsibilities but recognizes that bed bugs are an emergency. Legal remedies are often too slow and a last resort. We note the importance of collaborating with landlords and offer tips for making informed choices for reducing exposure risks. It is clear from these regulatory reviews that some pesticide choices are riskier than others. We also emphasize the importance of reading labels because the PMRA risk calculations link directly to label instructions. Not only is it illegal to not follow pesticide label directions, it can create serious health risks.
Given the importance of reading labels, we were dismayed to find that the PMRA Label Search website contains a large number of out of date labels for tetramethrin products in the “Domestic” category, that is, the pesticide equivalent of “over-the-counter” products anyone can buy. Tetramethrin is one of the riskier options for bed bug control and its recent regulatory review required multiple label changes to reduce uses and thus exposure risk. We have written to the PMRA raising this concern and seeking confirmation that this legal oversight has been corrected on the PMRA website as well as confirmation that it is not an ongoing legal violation on the products themselves.