For years we’ve been thinking about how Canada can better protect people and the environment. Over and over, we’ve arrived at the same answer: Charter recognition of the right to a healthy environment.
It’s a big idea that’s time has finally come.
It may seem novel to Canadians, but in the last 50 years the right to a healthy environment has gained recognition faster than any other human right. Around the world, more than 110 countries now recognize their citizens’ right to a healthy environment. In fact, Canada is among only a dozen nations that do not yet explicitly recognize this fundamental human right.
Most Canadians agree that strong environmental laws are important. Yet, Canada’s current patchwork of environmental laws and weak regulatory standards mean that thousands of people, disproportionately those in First Nations communities, do not have access to clean running water. Thousands of others are exposed to harmful levels of air pollution every day. Dozens of toxic chemicals already banned in other countries can still be legally used within our borders. These injustices make a clear case that Canada needs to take bold action and recognize environmental rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.