Ecojustice Blog – Healthy communities Posted on November 28, 2012 (updated: September 28, 2015)

Why environmental law is good for the economy and the planet

Devon PageLawyer

Canadians know we depend on a healthy environment. We also rely on a stable economy, which is fuelled by natural resources and thriving ecosystems. Environmental laws help ensure the environment and the economy are equally protected and promoted, not just because we need them both, but because each needs the other.

The federal government has made it clear that they intend to change 3 laws as part of their bigger agenda to promote corporate Canada. But promoting industry at all costs isn’t the same as building a sustainable economy. And it definitely doesn’t get us closer to protecting the clean air, water and land we all need to survive.

Truly effective environmental laws make sure, among other things, that companies design projects that cause the least amount of environmental harm and make the best use of resources. Laws also make sure these companies are the ones paying the costs of preventing or repairing damage to the environment, rather than downloading them to taxpayers as clean-up costs or healthcare expenses. In short, regulation forces companies to take care of the environment as part of the price of doing business.

Effective environmental laws should prevent decision-makers from rushing approvals for projects that could hurt our communities, our environment and our economy in the long-term – not the opposite. Rushing to approve projects that create temporary jobs and export our natural resources to the lowest bidder is not synonymous with creating economic stability for Canadians. It’s not great for the environment, either.

We depend on governments to use laws and other tools to protect our health, the environment and the economy. We don’t need them to act as an advocate for one interest (industry) over another (people).

Whether it’s monitoring toxic contamination, preventing oil spills, sustaining fisheries’ resources, creating national parks, or protecting ecosystems and species from extinction, the federal government is elected to use its power and laws to promote healthy environments, people and economies.

Check out our backgrounders to learn more about Canada’s federal environmental laws – including the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Fisheries Act – and why they matter.

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