Posted on November 21, 2022 (updated: November 21, 2022)

MPs must seize the opportunity to strengthen bill to update environmental protection law

photo showing a baby's bottle, lipstick and to-go container with a repetitive backdrop reading

Environment committee to consider Bill S-5 this week

OTTAWA/TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORY OF THE ALGONQUIN ANISHNAABEG PEOPLE –  Tomorrow, the House Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development (ENVI), will begin a review of Bill S-5, government legislation that modernizes the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. It is imperative that MPs on the committee work to strengthen the legislation. 

It has been over two decades since CEPA, Canada’s cornerstone environmental protection law, was last modernized. Since that time, sources of pollution and our scientific understanding of their risks and impacts on communities have changed dramatically.

This is the moment to get this long-awaiting legislation over the finish line in a form that will truly protect people, their rights and the environment from harm.

Political leaders must now seize the opportunity before them to make essential updates to this cornerstone environmental law.

While Bill S-5 is not a comprehensive update to CEPA it proposes long-overdue updates for the control of toxic substances and the first recognition of the right to a healthy environment in federal law.

These key provisions need to be reinforced, through strengthening amendments, to ensure this bill delivers its promise. 

Members of the committee should amend Bill S-5 to set the stage for meaningful implementation of a right to a healthy environment – including action on air quality – require mandatory labelling of hazardous substances in consumer products, establish accountability mechanisms to ensure timely assessment and management of toxic substances, and enable the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to promote safer alternatives to toxic substances.

Bill S-5 was introduced in the Senate earlier this year, which approved some important amendments and passed the bill in June. Consideration by the House of Commons committee and a final vote by MPs are now the last steps in the Parliamentary process before this long-awaited legislation can become law. 

If strengthened, Bill S-5 will be a springboard for future success in protecting the right to a healthy environment and reducing exposure to toxic substances. 

The groups supporting this statement are:

For media inquiries

Paula Gray, pgray@environmentaldefence.ca, 705-435-8611

Viorica Lorcencova, viorica.lorcencova@acsqc.ca, 514-443-8437

Pamela Daoust, pamela@cape.ca, 647-930-0236

Brendan Glauser, bglauser@davidsuzuki.org, 604-356-8829 

Sean O’Shea, Ecojustice, soshea@ecojustice.ca, 416-368-7533 ext. 523

Join our newsletter

Get updates on the most pressing environmental issues delivered straight to your inbox.