Summer 2022 Bulletin

CELA’s Summer Students

CELA encourages the growth and development of young minds who are eager to delve into the environmental and social justice community. This summer, CELA welcomed five passionate and hardworking summer students and helped foster their professional and personal development. CELA students worked on various projects, bringing fresh perspectives and tremendous value to the team.
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.

Left to Right: Cassidy Barnes, Meaghan Kenley, Rebecca Waxman, Kate Koppe, Adam Meadows. Not pictured – Zoé St Pierre

CELA Remembers Clayton Ruby

Staff at CELA were saddened to learn of the passing of widely respected lawyer Clayton Ruby. A staunch advocate for justice, Clayton often donated his time generously on environmental matters.

We can think of many instances of Clay’s generosity and dedication to social and environmental justice. Perhaps his first involvement was during the Temagami blockade in the 1980’s, when he showed up to get protesters out of jail.  

In the late 1980’s CELA commenced a private prosecution on behalf of a residents group against an industrial facility in relation to the airborne discharge of lead into a low-income community in Toronto. When it became necessary to seek extraordinary relief regarding the conduct of the trial, Clayton Ruby kindly represented CELA’s client as co-counsel on a pro bono basis, and he zealously represented them in the Ontario Superior Court and Ontario Court of Appeal to ensure access to environmental justice.

Clay also had lots of time for young environmental lawyers early in their careers – giving advice and guidance generously – and showing us all how to consider the bigger issues of fairness and equity. At the same time, he was brilliantly insightful and highly strategic in pleading and arguing cases.

CELA staff are grateful to have had the privilege of knowing and working with Clay, and he will be missed.

Photo Credit – Linda Pim

Case Updates

Proposed Waste Facility in Simcoe Forest – Update

Friends of Simcoe Forests will be in court on August 22 to seek leave to appeal the Ontario Land Tribunal’s decision allowing a waste processing complex to be placed in the middle of the Freele County Forest. Friends of Simcoe Forests argues that the Tribunal improperly interpreted the protections for key natural heritage features in the A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. For more details on this case, visit our casework page here

Nuclear Licensing Hearing for Chalk River – Update 

Following a 2-part public hearing of the licence amendment application from Canadian Nuclear Laboratories to construct a near-surface disposal facility, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has opted to keep the record open until January 31, 2023 for further information on engagement and consultation with Kebaowek First Nation and Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg. It is anticipated that the Commission Registry will provide notice in September 2022, with the information necessary to guide any final submissions.

Law Reform

Your Lakes – Your Voice

2022 is a big year for the Great Lakes – it’s the 50th anniversary of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA), an important framework for cooperation between the Canadian and United States governments that outlines their commitments and responsibilities to restore, protect and enhance the water quality of the Great Lakes.

This year, Canada and the US are hosting the triennial Great Lakes Public Forum in Niagara Falls, Ontario on September 27-29. In-person and virtual registration is available on their website.

At the Public Forum, the governments of Canada and the United States will update the public based on two reports:

1 – The State of the Great Lakes 2022 Report provides a summary of the health of the Great Lakes using indicators of ecosystem health, such as drinking water, fish consumption, and beach closures.

2 – The 2022 Progress Report of the Parties describes recent achievements in restoring and protecting Great Lakes water quality and ecosystem health.

Another important initiative being conducted concurrently by the International Joint Commission (IJC) is their Triennial Assessment of Progress (TAP). The IJC is tasked with conducting the TAP as part of its responsibilities with respect to advising the US and Canada regarding implementation of the GLWQA. You can share your perspective on Great Lakes issues with the IJC in many ways, including participating in events at the Public Forum and responding to a survey. The next TAP report is due in 2023.

For more information on the TAP report and the other Great Lakes reports discussed above, check out this informative article by the IJC.

Photo Credit – Linda Pim

Response to Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy

CELA has provided a response to Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy, released by the federal government in May 2022. Following up on Canada’s climate change commitments, this Strategy outlines how the Canadian economy and society can be more resilient and prepared for the impacts of climate change. The Strategy’s goal is to strengthen and change the way we improve health outcomes, build and maintain infrastructure, steward the environment, support a strong economy, and reduce the risk of climate-related disasters.

CELA’s response urges the Government to prioritize the disproportionate impact of climate change on vulnerable and low-income communities in its climate policies, and specifically recommends that:

  • at least 40% of climate investments go directly to vulnerable and low-income communities, 
  • detailed emergency planning for climate-related disasters have a low-income lens,
  • targeted programs be developed for low-income communities with an allocated budget that delivers co-benefits to health, and
  • that low-income barrier studies be developed to identify economic, social, psychological, technological, and political barriers.

Inside CELA

Healthy Great Lakes Funding Renewed

CELA is delighted to announce renewed funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to support the Healthy Great Lakes program. With a further two years of funding secured, CELA will continue to work toward ensuring clean, affordable, safe drinking water and freshwater health for all life, with a focus on vulnerable and marginalized communities. CELA’s work is a response to centuries of pollution, habitat destruction, and social injustice in the Great Lakes region. 

In 2022-2024, CELA’s Healthy Great Lakes program will focus on continued efforts in Ontario to protect and restore freshwater health in the Great Lakes region, and particularly on ensuring that policy measures are informed by the need for social justice, equity, and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. 

CELA is grateful to the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation for their continued support, and we are excited to continue this critical work for freshwater health and environmental justice!

Photo Credit – Kelly Mathews

Webinars & Resources

Reforming the Canadian Environmental Protection Act – A New Webinar Series

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) is the cornerstone of Canada’s regulatory system for protecting the environment. It has not been updated in over 20 years, and is long overdue for reform.

Amendments to CEPA were first introduced in April 2021 (as Bill C-28) but did not proceed due to the Fall 2021 election. In February 2022, a new Bill was introduced in the Senate (Bill S-5), which subsequently passed Third Reading and next will head to the House of Comments, likely in the Fall of 2022.

Further amendments to CEPA are needed during the Parliamentary process.  Key amendments should focus on making pollution prevention planning mandatory to eliminate the impacts of toxic substances and strengthen protection for vulnerable groups including children, women, and racialized groups, who are known to face inequitable risk associated with toxic substance exposures.  Further, amendments should seek enforcement mechanisms to ensure the right to a healthy environment is effective, and ensure public engagement and transparency within the law, including on new substances and biotechnology products covered under the Act.  

CELA will be partnering with Nature Canada this fall to present a 4-part webinar series discussing the need for reform of the CEPA. The series will discuss the current amendments proposed by government, the additional amendments being recommended by CELA and Nature Canada, and how the public can engage in calling for reform. Stay tuned for dates and details, coming in September.

Blue Economy Webinar Series – What’s Up With PFAS?

Presented by Water Canada and featuring CELA senior researcher and paralegal Fe de Leon, this webinar will explore questions such as: What are PFAS? How can PFAS get into drinking water? What are the health and/or environmental concerns associated with PFAS? What types of treatment technologies are available? More information and registration are available on their website.

Photo Credit – Ghislain Tillard

Looking for a Publication?

In addition to the search function on our website, all our publications are listed in reverse chronological order on our website here, or you can view a full list here.  Looking for an older publication? CELA’s archives contain all of CELA’s documents up until 2017.

You might also be interested in perusing the library housed by the Canadian Environmental Law Foundation.

The Canadian Environmental Law Foundation website is also home to the Environmental History Program, which includes interesting projects such as Environmental Beginnings and all the publications from the former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario.