November 2020 Bulletin

The Right to a Healthy Environment –
Advocating for Inclusion in CEPA

Read the full blog post here

The right to a healthy environment is crucial – it directly impacts people’s lives as it encompasses health, food, water, sanitation, property, culture, and non-discrimination, among others.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how imperative it is to have environmental rights, as well as how vulnerable communities are most impacted by “unhealthy” environments.

CELA believes strongly in the right to a healthy environment and has a long history of advocating for it – in fact it was one of the original and continuing objects of CELA when we were incorporated.

A right to a healthy environment can be enacted and given effect through a number of legal vehicles – including the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), Canada’s primary legislation for dealing with toxic chemicals and national pollution issues.

It has been over 20 years since the 1999 amendments to CEPA, and the most recent parliamentary review process that began in 2016 is the first real opportunity since then to make changes to longstanding issues such as environmental rights, chemicals policy, public engagement and decision making, as well as highlight the protection of vulnerable communities.

CELA is advocating for a number of key amendments that are vital to create greater protection for all Canadians – we’re also asking that the government release its proposed amendments to CEPA by the end of the year.

To learn more about the importance of environmental rights and the need for changes to CEPA, watch the recently concluded three-part webinar series available on our website.

Photo Credit – Joel Theriault

Your Donation Protects Our Health and Our Environment

This has been a year of profound change, and for many of us, an awakening. At CELA, we are heartened to see so many people taking action to make a difference on compelling, urgent and life changing issues.

We have much to celebrate – think about improvements in air quality, banning the cosmetic use of pesticides, the drinking water protection legacy of the Walkerton tragedy, and hundreds of other successes. But we have much more work ahead. And so, we’re asking you to take action today by making a financial contribution to our cause.

Your tax-creditable donation to the CELA Foundation will ensure that CELA can continue to provide research and educational support for environmental law reform, and legal assistance to low-income communities who are adversely – and disproportionately – affected by environmental issues.

Please don’t delay. As a supporter of CELA and a friend of the environment, you are our most important line of defence for what we value and treasure. You can make the difference between health and hope, or destruction and despair.

Please, choose to make a difference today.

Make a Donation Today

Update on ED-19 Landfill: Case Closed!

Since CELA’s landfill cases often take years (and even decades) to complete, there is cause for celebration whenever a landfill dispute reaches a successful conclusion from the perspective of CELA’s clients. This desirable outcome recently occurred in CELA’s case involving the controversial ED-19 Landfill in Eastern Ontario. The final step was taken when CELA, acting on behalf of local residents, withdrew an appeal to Ontario’s Environment Minister after Ministry representatives decided to wholly revoke two outdated approvals for the landfill.

We Need Our Conservation Authorities!

The Ontario government recently tabled omnibus budget measures Bill 229 earlier this month, Schedule 6 of which proposes alarming and fundamental changes to the Conservation Authorities Act and to the role of conservation authorities in land use planning.

Last week Bill 229 was fast-tracked, and expedited public hearings are taking place from November 30 – December 2. Written submissions are due by 7pm ET on Wednesday, December 2 and can be submitted online. CELA has prepared a written submission, and we encourage you to use it to submit your own comments.

Communities around Ontario care about their conservation authorities – a recent webinar co-hosted by CELA, Environmental Defence and Ontario Nature was attended by over 1,200 people live, and has been watched by more than 860 people since.

If you haven’t already, please contact your local MPP and ask to have Schedule 6 removed from Bill 229 to protect the critical role Conservation Authorities play in our watersheds and our communities. More resources are available on CELA’s action alert.

CELA Responds to Ontario’s Proposed Project List under the Environmental Assessment Act

In November, CELA filed three submissions in relation to Ontario’s unacceptably short list of projects that will be subject to Comprehensive EAs under Part II.3 of the Environmental Assessment Act.

First, CELA and several other groups wrote to the Environment Minister to outline our concerns about the government’s inadequate public consultation on the proposed list. Second, CELA and approximately 60 residents groups, environmental organizations, law firms and First Nations jointly submitted a brief that identified serious shortcomings, evidentiary problems and significant gaps in the proposed list.

Third, CELA filed a detailed legal analysis that expanded upon these points and included a chart containing the much broader project lists which are used in other Canadian jurisdictions for triggering EA requirements.

New Nuclear Reactors a Dirty, Dangerous Distraction from Tackling Climate Change – Sign-On Opportunity

A new form of energy technology is being touted as the ‘solution’ to climate change. Known as small modular reactors (SMR), this proposed nuclear technology is intended for use in remote, off-grid communities to replace diesel reliance and to power resource extraction projects.

CELA opposes this new nuclear technology and has an open call to civil society groups and organizations to sign our statement asking Canada to support renewable generation technologies which are socially acceptable, cost effective and scalable now.

CELA has also created an SMR primer, which debunks many of the myths about this proposed nuclear technology, including their commercial viability, risks posed by accidents and nuclear proliferation, and the new type of radioactive wastes they will generate and impose on future generations.

Proposed Exploration Permits in the Ring of Fire

In response to multiple proposed mineral exploration permits in the Ring of Fire, a joint submission by CELA has asked the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines to pause decision making and only proceed when public and Indigenous engagement can be achieved and the participatory rights set out in the Environmental Bill of Rights fulfilled. The signatories also urge the Ministry to consider the combined, cumulative effects of these proposed permits which span over 1300 claims.

Impacts of Mines and Smelters

A new report by MiningWatch Canada, and endorsed by CELA, concludes that every new mine, smelter or refinery in Ontario – or major expansion – must have a thorough environmental assessment before it can go ahead.

From Our Blog

Virtual Opportunities

New Series! Indigenous Ways of Knowing in Conservation

We are honoured to be hosting another webinar series with Gary Pritchard, looking at Indigenous ways of knowing, conservation strategies and decolonizing ecology. The sessions will take place from 1:00-2:00pm ET on January 21, January 28 and February 4. Registration is required; please check our website for more information.

Changes to CEPA to Protect Vulnerable Populations

CELA recently hosted a 3-part webinar series focused on the need for changes to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) to protect vulnerable communities from toxic exposures, using improved, modern approaches to advance prevention strategies from hazardous substances. The recordings from these sessions are available on our website.

We Need Our Conservation Authorities – Webinar Recording

CELA recently hosted a webinar in partnership with Environmental Defence and Ontario Nature about the proposed changes to the Conservation Authorities Act and to the conservation authorities’ role in land use planning. The recording is available on our website.

Final Meeting – Environmental Themes of our Times Book Club

For their final meeting, CELA’s virtual book club will be reading Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape by Lauret Savoy. From the book jacket is this line, “One life-defining lesson Lauret Savoy learned as a young girl was this: the American land did not hate…. she has tracked the continent’s past from the relics of deep time; but the paths of ancestors toward her – paths of free and enslaved Africans, colonists from Europe, and peoples indigenous to this land lie largely eroded and lost.”
Registration is required.