Original language of petition: English
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.
Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.
|Province / Territory||Signatures|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||3|
|Prince Edward Island||1|