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CELA is a non-profit specialty legal aid clinic funded by Legal Aid Ontario. We work to protect human health and our environment by seeking justice for those harmed by pollution and by working to change policies to prevent such problems in the first place. We provide free legal services to people and groups across Ontario that qualify for legal aid.

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The CELA Foundation supports CELA’s research and educational work on environmental law and justice issues through extensive resources available to the public and in support of the environmental law and policy community. The Foundation also helps CELA mentor and train the next generation of environmental lawyers.

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CELA counsel represent Ontario residents and community groups who qualify for legal aid. Representation occurs in the courts and before tribunals on matters of environmental law. CELA’s lawyers have achieved some of the most important environmental law victories and precedent-setting cases in Canada.

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Say you believe - that better laws make a difference, that our children deserve safe futures. Help build momentum for change by telling us what you believe!

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CELA's Latest Activities

Discover staff blog posts, publications, reports, alerts, and media releases.

Webinar: Mexico’s Failure to Protect the Vaquita Porpoise: The USMCA’s First Environmental Test

The vaquita, the world’s smallest porpoise is on the verge of extinction. Scientists estimate that there are fewer than 10 left in the world. Hear from experts about the critically endangered vaguita, the threats to its survival and habitat, including from illegal activity, and the USCMA trade agreement process to save the vaquita and hold Mexico accountable for its environmental commitments.

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Media Release: Federal Budget Funding for New Nuclear Reactors a ‘Climate Throwaway’

The 2022 federal budget announcing investment in unproven nuclear reactor designs, dubbed Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), is being called a “climate throwaway” by civil society groups. Just days after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its starkest report yet urging aggressive climate action, the federal government is choosing to invest in yet-to-be proven technologies that miss the mark for halving emissions by 2030.

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Final Environmental Impact Statement for Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ Proposed Near Surface Disposal Facility

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories has submitted an application to amend its nuclear research and test establishment operating licence for the Chalk River Laboratories site to authorize the constructcion of the proposed near-surface disposal facility for low-level radioactive waste (“NSDF”). CELA submitted an intervention to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission commenting on the adequacy of CNL’s final Environmental Impact Statement for the NSDF and opposing the licencen amendment request. The hearing will begin on May 31, 2022 and the public is invited to watch.

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Blog: Freshwater Highlights From Budget 2022

On April 7, 2022, the Government of Canada released the budget for 2022-2023, “A Plan to Grow Our Economy and Make Life More Affordable.”

The budget contains several proposals and updates on federal freshwater programs. Highlights include: clean drinking water for First Nations communities, freshwater protections, and monitoring of plastic waste in water systems. 

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Casework: Judicial Review of Bill 197 - COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020​

On behalf of several environmental organizations and individuals, CELA sought a judicial review in Divisional Court of the statutory decision by two Ontario Cabinet Ministers that denied our clients and other members of the public their legal right to be notified and consulted on environmentally significant legislative amendments contained in Bill 197 (COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020) before they were enacted by the Ontario Legislature on July 21, 2020. These amendments include changes to the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA), the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) and the Planning Act.

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