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441-00479 (Environment)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: Bilingual

PETITION TO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS IN PARLIAMENT ASSEMBLED

Whereas:

  • The G&R Recycling facility in Kanehsatà:ke, Québec, has been reported to contain toxic waste without permits or precautions to prevent spillage into the environment;
  • Health experts cited in the Toronto Star identify this waste as a threat to human health and environmental watchdog groups warn that these toxins may eventually taint waterways that affect the lives of millions of citizens;
  • The G&R site is no isolated incident;
  • Throughout our country, there is a shameful legacy of unregulated and dangerous waste sites allowed to operate on Indigenous lands and adjacent to the homes of Canada's racialized populations;
  • Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples is a national priority and a growing consensus is building around the need to act on environmental racism; and
  • Strong policies and the political will to act on them are needed to prevent future sites similar to G&R, from harming the health and well-being of coming generations of Indigenous and racialized citizens.

We, the undersigned citizens and residents of Canada call upon the House of Commons in Parliament assembled:

  • To mobilize the vast resources of the federal government to immediately secure and decontaminate this dump site in Kanehsatà:ke and others like it; and
  • To put forward concrete plans to enact the measures addressing systemic environmental racism as now proposed in the Private Member's Bill C-226 (National Strategy Respecting Environmental Racism and Environmental Justice Act).

Response by the Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Vance Badawey

Environmental protection, including proper waste management, is a priority for Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and over the past few years, ISC programming has been greatly expanded. In 2016, the Government of Canada launched the First Nation Solid Waste Management Initiative (FNSWMI), allocating $409 million over five years to support the development of sustainable community waste management systems in First Nations communities through modern infrastructure, operations, training and partnerships. The FNSWMI was renewed in Budget 2017 with an additional $540 million over seven years starting in 2021-22. Budget 2021 also allocated another $195 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, to support the operation and maintenance of waste facilities that address the needs of the community. These investments are having a significant impact on the management of waste on reserve lands.

In addition, if Bill 226, An Act respecting the development of a national strategy to assess, prevent and address environmental racism and to advance environmental justice (National Strategy Respecting Environmental Racism and Environmental Justice Act) is passed by Parliament, ISC will support other government departments in the development of a National Strategy to assess, prevent and address environmental racism and to advance environmental justice in Canada.

G & R Recycling G.P. has not respected the conditions of the 2015 authorization issued by the Government of Quebec to operate the site. This authorization was therefore revoked on October 5, 2020. Environment and Climate Change Canada issued a directive under the Fisheries Act on November 18, 2020 advising G & R Recycling G.P. of “an unauthorized deposit of deleterious substances into waters frequented by fish” and instructed the company to implement a number of corrective measures. Subsequently, the Kanesatake Band Council revoked an authorization it had granted to the company on November 3, 2021.

The potential negative impact that these activities are having on the environment and the people living in the area are very concerning. Indigenous Services Canada is supporting Environment and Climate Change Canada and Quebec’s ministère de l’environnement et de la lutte contre les changements climatiques in their discussions with the Band Council to find permanent solutions to this issue.

Response by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable STEVEN GUILBEAULT

In Canada, the federal government applies “the polluter pays” principle that is, the party responsible for producing pollution should be responsible for paying for damage to the natural environment. Private companies are expected to clean up (or remediate) the land they contaminate. The provinces, territories and federal government are generally responsible for the cost to deal with contamination at the sites they own or lease.

The Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (FCSAP) was established in 2005 as a 15-year program with funding of $4.54 billion from the Government of Canada. The program was renewed for another 15 years (2020 to 2034) with $1.16 billion announced in Budget 2019 for the first five years, Phase IV which runs from 2020 to 2024. The objective of FCSAP is to reduce environmental and human health risks from known federal contaminated sites, including contaminated sites on reserve lands and in the North for which the federal government is responsible.

In FCSAP Phase IV (2020 to 2024), custodians continue to remediate the highest priority federal contaminated sites – those that pose the highest risks to the environment and human health. For Phase IV, program eligibility criteria was expanded to improve program efficiency and to allow more sites to be addressed that may impact Indigenous people living on reserves or in Northern communities. Over the past three years, Environment and Climate Change Canada and Indigenous Services Canada have provided technical support to the Environment Office of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake in order to help the community address environmental issues on its territory.

Private Member's Bill C-226, An Act respecting the development of a national strategy to assess, prevent and address environmental racism and to advance environmental justice, proposes the development of a national strategy to assess, prevent and address environmental racism and advance environmental justice, in consultation or cooperation with any interested persons, bodies, organizations or communities — including Indigenous communities. The Prime Minister has confirmed support for the Bill, which aligns with the Government’s plan to develop an environmental justice strategy and examine the link between race, socio-economic status and exposure to environmental risk.

 

 

Presented to the House of Commons
Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie)
May 17, 2022 (Petition No. 441-00479)
Government response tabled
August 17, 2022
Photo - Alexandre Boulerice
Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie
New Democratic Party Caucus
Quebec

Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.

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