ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE, BREAST CANCER ACTION QUEBEC, CANADIAN ASSOCIATION OF PHYSICIANS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, DAVID SUZUKI FOUNDATION, ECOJUSTICE
Groups urge MPs to strengthen Bill S-5 to modernize the Canadian Environmental Protection Act
OTTAWA | TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORY OF THE ALGONQUIN ANISHNAABEG PEOPLE – Bill S-5, government legislation to modernize the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), has now passed second reading in the House of Commons. It will be studied by the House environment committee later this month. Leading environmental and health groups celebrate this milestone and are calling on all federal parties to continue prioritizing this legislation – with the aim of a strengthened Bill S-5 becoming law by early 2023.
It has been more than two decades since Parliament updated the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) – Canada’s cornerstone environmental law. CEPA modernization will improve environmental and human health protection from toxic chemicals and pollution. It will also recognize the right to a healthy environment for the first time in federal law. Thousands of people across Canada have called on their MPs and political leaders to strengthen Canada’s most important environmental law. Millions of people in Canada will be negatively affected if they do not.
Bill S-5, introduced in February 2022 in the Senate, was an important step toward improving CEPA. The Senate approved amendments to strengthen the bill and passed it in June. As important as the Senate improvements were, some key issues remain to be addressed. To ensure that CEPA better protects the health and well-being of everyone in Canada, it must contain stronger provisions that ensure timely assessment and control of toxic substances as well as greater certainty for the protection of the right to a healthy environment.
We call on the House Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development to proceed with a robust study of these issues and approve amendments before Bill S-5 goes back to the House for third reading. This is a critical opportunity to get CEPA modernization right.
The groups supporting this statement are:
- Environmental Defence
- Breast Cancer Action Quebec
- Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE)
- David Suzuki Foundation
- CEPA is Canada’s main law for protecting environmental health, and CEPA has not been significantly amended since 1999.
- In 2017, the House Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development recommended strengthening CEPA, leading the government to introduce Bill S-5. Consideration of these recommendations has now spanned three sessions of Parliament.
- Bill S-5 has passed its third reading in the Senate and second reading in the House of Commons. It must now be studied by the Environment and Sustainable Development (ENVI) committee.
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