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CEPA REFORM.

A HISTORIC OPPORTUNITY TO SECURE THE RIGHT TO HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT

On April 13, 2021, the federal government introduced Bill C-28: Strengthening Environmental Protection for a Healthier Canada Act, which would have made much-needed improvements to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) and, for the first time ever in federal law, recognize the right to a healthy environment. This would have benefited everyone in Canada but in particular Indigenous, racialized, low-income and vulnerable populations, that are disproportionately impacted by toxic chemicals and pollution. 

 

In addition to recognizing the right to a healthy environment, the changes would have also:

  • Prohibit the use of chemicals of the highest risk and require the government to seek safer alternatives

  • Require ingredient labelling on everyday consumer products so Canadian's can better understand the substances they are being exposed to 

  •  Regulate pollution that disproportionately impacts the health of vulnerable populations

  •  Ensures assessments focus on real life exposure based on the cumulative effects of a substance in combination with exposure to other substance

 

The changes proposed in Bill C-28 offer an opportunity to drastically improve the health of communities and individuals experiencing impacts from pollution and toxic substances.  The Coalition of Environmental Rights and its members are calling on all members of parliament to support and prioritize Bill C-28. The health of our most vulnerable communities and families are at stake. Unfortunately, as a result of the election of 2021, the proposed amendments no longer remain in the form discussed above. The Coalition actively pursues campaigns and initiatives to put pressure on the government to re-introduce the Bill for the benefit of so many. Take action with us through our MP pledges and much more!

 

BACKGROUND - THE CANADIAN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ACT (CEPA)

  • CEPA is Canada's most important law on pollution and toxic substances, and yet it is badly out of date.

  • A 2020 UN report found that CEPA is failing to protect Canadians, particularly Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities. It also found that CEPA fails to adequately consider the differentiated burdens and impacts from toxic exposures between genders (UNHCR, 2020).

  • CEPA currently fails to protect Canadians from substances that are carcinogenic, hormone disrupting and/or toxic for neurological, foetal, and reproduction development (Breast Cancer Action Quebec).

  • CEPA also fails to consider how chemicals people are exposed to on a daily basis combine and accumulate to affect individuals and communities.