From getting major retailers to stop selling toxic paint strippers to the cancellation of an unnecessary multi-lane highway, you helped us defend our environment and the health of Canadians. You joined us in securing strong regulations to reduce harmful methane emissions, a plan to protect Lake Erie, and a commitment from the federal government to update our 20 year old toxics law. And, together we are creating a growing public movement for a plastic waste free Canada.
None of this would have been possible without your support.
Climate & Clean Economy
The forest fires across the country this summer showed the urgency of moving Canada to a low-carbon future and the need for governments, businesses and individuals to help create a cleaner economy.
As the battle this year over carbon pricing dominated headlines across Canada, a victory flew under the radar – Canada passed its first ever regulations to reduce harmful methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. These are some of the best in the world. And, our case against Alberta’s leaking toxic tailings ponds finally made its way to an international tribunal, which is undertaking an investigation.
But the federal government’s reckless purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline not only contradicts their commitment to stop funding fossil fuel companies – it also leaves Canadians on the hook for a dead-end project. So we’re working with allies to craft new environmental laws that will make it impossible to approve future projects without properly considering all the impacts and respecting Indigenous peoples.
In Ontario, we focused on raising awareness about the ways people can reduce their carbon footprint, from making their homes more energy efficient, to leaving their car behind (or driving an electric one) and eating more local plant-based foods.
We also hired our first Program Manager for Alberta, who is working to build support for continued climate action in the province.
In the year ahead, we’re going to:
- Hold BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan to the high standard of methane reductions set by the federal government
- Work to ensure Ontario has an effective climate plan that continues to reduce the province’s greenhouse gas emissions
- Build an alliance of Alberta organizations working to advance climate action in the province
- Raise awareness about the massive clean-up liability of Alberta’s orphaned oil and gas wells
- Demand a transparent and swift end to public subsidies for oil and gas companies across Canada
Canada holds one-fifth of the world’s surface freshwater. Our water systems provide drinking water for millions, support billion dollar economies and sustain important ecosystems. That’s why we’re working to keep Canada’s freshwaters clean and safe by preventing pollution.
This past year, we called for a strong plan from Canada to protect and restore Lake Erie, and saw several of our key recommendations included in both the federal and Ontario Action Plans. We brought the issue of plastic pollution in the Great Lakes to life by creating a huge art installation made of over 12,000 single-use bottles, collected by concerned individuals.
Along with over 40 other groups, we created the Towards a Zero Plastic Waste Future Declaration. This declaration set out our vision for Canada to reach zero plastic waste by 2025.
Our Blue Flag program continued to grow. This year we certified 27 beaches and nine marinas across Canada, including our first ever coastal beach in Cap-Pele, NB. As a result, Canadians now have even more clean and sustainably-managed spots to enjoy swimming and boating.
In the year ahead, our efforts to safeguard freshwater will focus on:
Kicking Out Toxics
Toxic chemicals are everywhere – in the air we breathe, the cosmetics we use, and the food we eat – and are increasingly impacting our health and environment. Many of these everyday chemicals are linked to cancer and asthma, among other illnesses. That’s why we’re working with the government and industry to put stronger rules in place to reduce our exposure.
This year, we successfully engaged retailers across Canada to commit to removing deadly paint strippers from their shelves by early 2019. We also engaged chemical industry leaders and broader civil society to endorse our key recommendations to improve Canada’s main toxics law, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). This led to a commitment from the federal government to modernize this two-decade old Act as early as 2020. To highlight the need for reform of our toxics laws, we released our What’s in your lunch? How glyphosate finds its way into your children’s foods report.
We also helped to get restrictions on pesticides like neonics, and prompted the government to review the impact of industrial pollution on air quality in Ontario.
In the year ahead, our efforts to kick out toxics will focus on:
- Educating Canadians on harmful chemicals and pesticides in everyday products, such as BPA in thermal cash register receipts
- Working with industry to implement rules to reduce toxic chemicals in products
- Ensuring that Canada’s Toxics Law is meaningfully reformed as early as 2020
- Declare single-use plastics, microplastics and microfibers as toxic under law
- Making Volkswagen responsible for its diesel emissions scandal in Canada
Creating Livable Communities
Commute times are getting longer, gridlock is getting worse, and farmland, water and natural areas are under threat from sprawling development. It’s clear that protecting Ontario’s Greenbelt and creating liveable communities is more important than ever.
That’s why we’re working to stop rampant urban sprawl from paving over Ontario’s best remaining farmland. We’re also ensuring the proper implementation of the province’s Growth Plan to help create a prosperous and sustainable future.
This year, we saw the cancellation of the GTA West Highway, a redundant mega-highway that would have paved over thousands of acres of farmland in and near the Greenbelt. We also celebrated the end of the undemocratic Ontario Municipal Board which Environmental Defence has been challenging for over 30 years.
In the year ahead, our efforts to create liveable communities will focus on:
We wouldn’t exist without you. You signed petitions, donated your birthday presents, attended our events, wrote and called the government and financially supported our programs.
Everything we do is made possible because of your generosity, enthusiasm, passion and dedication. And, you inspire us to continue our work to improve the health of Canadians and our environment.
An Evening of Inspiring Change
Our 2018 Gala focused on how disruptive change happens—from the initial spark of an idea to creating a shift across our entire society. During a conversation with our Executive Director, Tim Gray, three change makers uncovered the issues of aboriginal sovereignty, climate change, and smoking in public places. Thank you Michael Perley, Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson and Tzeporah Berman for motivating us to make the changes so urgently needed in this challenging world. And thank you to our sponsors and guests for your unwavering commitment.
Award in honour of the recipient’s service to protecting Canada’s environment
A passionate advocate and champion of environmental inclusion, Marjorie Brans has been at the centre of progressive change for nearly 15 years.
During this time, she led the “No Dirty Gold” campaign with Earthworks and Oxfam and worked with multinational corporations to create economic opportunities for people living in poverty. And, she founded CLARION – a coalition that helps prepare marginalized communities for extreme weather emergencies.
Today, she leads a unique program called Social Entrepreneurial Leaders Enabling Climate Transition (SELECT) which helps emerging eco-leaders from disadvantaged communities take control of their futures. Marjorie’s work helping those most affected by climate change is extraordinary, and for this we commend her.
ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE is a team of passionate, creative, and talented people devoted to making positive change happen. Our staff and board work hard every day to protect Canada’s environment and human health. But we don’t do it alone. We have an expert advisory committee that offers ideas, advice and feedback to help us develop our campaigns, and we have celebrity partners and a social media team that helps us get the word out about our programs.
It takes all of our dedicated team working together in our office to deliver the outcomes we’ve shared in this report. The program, engagement and communications staff (tackling the issues) along with our finance, development, and administration teams (backbone) come together and deliver the change we have committed to our funders and supporters. And of course, we need the space (keeping the lights on) to brainstorm, plan and implement our work.
A BIG THANKS to all of the individuals and organizations who generously supported our efforts between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018. Together, we accomplished incredible feats, including securing a federal commitment to protecting charities from harassment. And with your continued support, we know that we can accomplish even more this coming year.