Every day, we work to create change. Real change. Change that helps to make a better world. All thanks to the support of thousands of caring Canadians like you.
This past year, we found innovative solutions to some of the planet’s biggest problems, to create lasting, meaningful change to protect the environment and human health.
Here’s a look back at what we accomplished this past year with your support.
Safeguarding Canada’s Freshwater
Every day, we work to keep Canada’s freshwaters clean and safe by preventing pollution.
Last winter, we helped launch a program to address the problems caused by too much road salt on our sidewalks and streets. Because of our efforts, the Ontario government committed to addressing the overapplication of road salt and chloride pollution in our waterways.
Meanwhile, we continued our work to protect Lake Erie from massive, and sometimes toxic, algae blooms. In March 2018, the Ontario and federal governments announced an action plan for the lake. During this past year, we have called on them to quickly implement it. As part of our efforts, we engaged with communities near the lake and people on social media to raise awareness and mobilize support for action for Lake Erie.
Finally, our Blue Flag program had a record year. We flew the coveted eco-certification at 28 beaches and 12 marinas across Canada.
Climate & Clean Economy
This past year, we worked with governments, businesses, and individuals to fight climate change and create a cleaner economy.
After a contentious battle in the Senate, Canada’s new environmental assessment act, Bill C-69, was passed. The bill improves how the federal government reviews energy and industrial projects that impact the environment, like pipelines, mines, and dams. It also replaced the National Energy Board with a new regulator.
We defended Canada’s important national methane rules, which were under pressure from provincial governments trying to substitute them with weaker regional standards.
Canada’s federal carbon price also came into effect—a big step towards nationwide climate action. So when the Ontario and Saskatchewan governments went to court to fight the federal carbon tax, we took a stand. We organized a rally in Toronto. And we were intervenors in both court cases—and won!
Ending Plastic Pollution
Plastic pollution is a growing crisis around the world. Here at home, we are working to keep plastic out of landfills and your environment.
In Ontario, we continued calling for a deposit return program for plastic bottles to keep 1.5 billion bottles out of our landfills, lakes and rivers each year. Ahead of the 2018 provincial election, two parties added deposit programs to their platforms. The new Ontario government has expressed interest as well.
The following June, we also helped to secure a commitment from the federal government to ban single-use plastics (like bags and cutlery) by 2021, and develop a program to massively reduce plastic waste overall.
Kicking Out Toxic Chemicals
We’re surrounded by toxic chemicals. They’re in many items we use every day, and have links to serious illnesses like cancer and asthma. They also harm our environment. That’s why we’re working with the government and industry to put stronger rules in place to reduce our exposure.
One way we are exposed to hormone-disrupting chemicals is by touching receipts. To shed light on this problem, we published a study in the Hidden Costs of Receipts report, which was showcased in the 10th anniversary edition of Slow Death by Rubber Duck. This led to Costco Canada committing to remove BPA and BPS on its receipts by December 31, 2019.
Additionally, following our recommendations and thousands of letters from concerned Canadians, the federal government took its first step to develop a policy to better protect vulnerable populations—like pregnant women, workers, lower income families, and marginalized communities—from toxics.
Creating Livable Communities
In Ontario, we are working to stop rampant urban sprawl from paving over natural spaces and the province’s best remaining farmland.
Last December, the Ontario government introduced Bill 66. If passed, it would open up Ontario’s Greenbelt for factory, retail, and residential development, undermine drinking water protection rules, and gut rules that help industry reduce the release of toxic chemicals.
We quickly sprang into action. Thousands of people put up lawn signs, sent letters, and made calls to their MPPs or rallied outside of their offices. The government listened. In January, it said it would not proceed with Schedule 10, the part of the bill that would open up the Greenbelt and other sensitive areas to development.
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. You inspire us to continue our work to improve the health of Canadians and our environment.
An Evening of Inspiring Change
Our 2019 Gala focused on Turning the Plastic Tide and what Canada and Canadians can do to free themselves from the growing threat of plastic pollution. The evening was hosted by The Water Brothers (Alex & Tyler Mifflin) and included an informative discussion with our Executive Director Tim Gray, and experts Bruce Lourie, Lisa Erdle, and Rachel Labbé-Bellas.
The event also featured virtual reality stations showcasing devastating scenes of plastic pollution from the film Anthropocene: The Human Epoch—a documentary created by Ed Burtynsky, Nick de Pencier and Jennifer Baichwal. The night was a huge success in large part to our dedicated sponsors, speakers and guests. Thank you!
Award in honour of the recipient’s service to protecting Canada’s environment
For almost 30 years, Victor Doyle has been at the epicentre of provincial planning in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
Best known as the “architect” of the Greenbelt, he is a staunch advocate of speaking truth to power—even if it puts you at personal risk. He has been found in conflict of interest twice for publicly releasing reports on the impacts of urban sprawl, which ultimately resulted in him being forced from the Ontario Public Service.
Doyle launched and recently won a successful legal challenge which entrenches the ability of professional civil servants to speak the truth, despite the powerful push-back from industry and governments.
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.
For the full audited financial report, click here.
A BIG THANKS to all of the individuals and organizations who generously supported our efforts between April 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019. Together, we accomplished incredible feats, and with your continued support, we know that we can accomplish even more this coming year.