The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) is now more than 20 years old and long overdue for an update.
CEPA is Canada’s cornerstone law for protecting human health and the environment from pollution and toxic substances. But since CEPA was last overhauled a lot has changed. For example, Canadians have become increasingly exposed to toxics in our everyday lives through the items in our homes and the products we use, while scientific knowledge of risks has advanced. We need a modern law that protects our health and the people and places we care about from these harmful substances.
In 2016 and 2017, Ecojustice participated in a thorough review of CEPA undertaken by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development (ENVI), providing both oral testimony and written submissions. Thanks in part to Ecojustice’s extensive contributions, the standing committee released a report in 2017 with 87 substantial recommendations to improve the Act and its implementation. In response to the report, the government agreed to update CEPA, and in 2019 the Prime Minister mandated the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to better protect people and the environment from toxins and other pollution by strengthening the Act.
But the government has yet to introduce a bill to modernize this critical law
Ecojustice, along with our partners the David Suzuki Foundation and Environmental Defence (a fellow member of the Coalition for Action on Toxics), is now lobbying the federal government to update CEPA to protect all Canadians. The Coalition for Action on Toxics is a project on MakeWay’s shared platform, and includes Environmental Defence, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, and Equiterre).
We need a 21st-century law to safeguard us, our families, and our communities from 21st-century threats. That means a law that:
CEPA is one of the key pieces of legislation that Ecojustice relies on when going to court to fight for a healthy environment for all Canadians. We use CEPA to demand the federal government regulate toxic substances and crackdown on polluters who put the health and security of Canadians at risk – such as recent litigation to force the federal government to lay charges against Volkswagen for its emissions-cheating.
Ecojustice wants to see a modern, fit-for-purpose CEPA. This means a 21st-century law that protects Canadians from 21st-century threats to our health and upholds our right to a healthy environment.