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e-2616 (Environment)

E-petition
Initiated by Domenica Tambasco from Toronto, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

Whereas:
  • The health of the environment directly affects the health and safety of Canadians and residents of Canada;
  • Canada and the world are facing an existential threat as the direct result of pollution and climate change;
  • Preserving and protecting the environment combats the harmful effects of pollution and climate change;
  • Canada and Canadians are committed to reducing and reversing the burden of harm caused by unhealthy environments;
  • Environment and health are inextricably linked and should be prioritized values;
  • The precautionary principle will help protect not only the environment by preventing or mitigating pollution at source, but also Canada’s vulnerable populations;
  • We value the principles of conservation in the order intended (reduce, reconfigure with the safest and least polluting alternatives, reuse, and recycle);
  • The harmonization and integration of the highest environmental and health-based standards across Canada is needed to protect the most vulnerable populations;
  • A framework is required to integrate these principles across all levels of government, businesses, communities, and individuals to work well within the limits of our local, provincial, national and global resources;
  • Reduction of pollution, consumption, and waste is required for environmental sustainability and human health; and
  • We need policies to discourage access to consumer products that involve excess waste or harmful materials in its life-cycle while encouraging access to the Canadian market of sustainable, non-toxic, durable and repairable products or equipment.
We, the undersigned, people of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to introduce legislation to enshrine an Environmental Bill of Rights and Responsibilities into Canadian law, recognizing the vital role of the environment as a determinant of health.

Response by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable JONATHAN WILKINSON

The Government would like to thank the petitioners for expressing their concerns regarding the vital role of the environment as a determinant of health. The Government understands that some Canadians would like to see federal legislation codifying an environmental bill of rights. This is a complex and novel issue in Canadian federal law and requires careful consideration to understand the impacts of recognizing such a right in the Canadian legal framework. Please refer to the Government of Canada’s June 29, 2018, “Follow-Up Report to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development on the review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA)” for more information: https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/eccc/documents/pdf/cepa/FollowUpCepaReport-eng.pdf.

Environmental rights are generally divided into three groups: substantive rights to environmental quality, procedural rights (providing access to information, access to justice, and participation in decision-making), and environmental justice, which seeks to equitably distribute environmental harms and benefits. Substantive environmental rights (i.e. “the right to a healthy environment”) are a complex issue in the Canadian federal context, which is why the Government is committed to studying this issue as noted above. With respect to procedural environmental rights, many types are already provided for in federal environmental laws, including CEPA – such as rights of access to information, rights to participate in decisions, rights to request investigations and reviews of existing laws and policies, whistleblower protection, and rights to take actions against environmental offenders. Finally, environmental justice objectives are supported in part through existing mechanisms such as the Cabinet-wide policy of applying the Gender Based Analysis Plus, and departmental policies such as consideration of vulnerable populations as part of risk assessments under CEPA.

Progress in environmental protection can be achieved through a combination of approaches, tools and resources. The Government of Canada recognizes that environmental stewardship is essential for the well-being and prosperity of Canadians. The Government has an important responsibility to protect the environment for current and future generations, and is committed to ensuring that federal environmental legislation remains a strong and robust tool for the protection of human health and the environment.

For example, CEPA is an important federal law aimed at preventing pollution and protecting the environment and human health. It authorizes action on a wide range of environmental and health risks – from chemicals to air and water pollution to wastes and emergencies. It reflects the principles of sustainable development, the precautionary principle, pollution prevention, polluter pays, inter-generational equity, and co-operative federalism. In the September 2020 Speech from the Throne, the Government committed to modernizing CEPA.  Another example is Bill C-12, the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, which was first read in Parliament on November 19, 2020. The purpose of the bill is to promote transparency and accountability in relation to achieving national targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and includes requirements for public participation and government reporting.

Canada’s strong environmental protection framework is vital to protecting nature and keeping Canadians safe. All Canadians deserve a healthy environment and safe communities and the Government of Canada will continue to protect the health of Canadians and the environment.

 

 

Open for signature
June 17, 2020, at 2:02 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
October 15, 2020, at 2:02 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Julie Dzerowicz (Davenport)
November 26, 2020 (Petition No. 432-00296)
Government response tabled
January 25, 2021
Photo - Julie Dzerowicz
Davenport
Liberal Caucus
Ontario
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