Staff Blog

The Walkerton Tragedy: Lessons Learned and Unfinished Business

In May 2000, seven people died, and thousands of people fell seriously ill, after consuming contaminated drinking water supplied by a municipal drinking water system in Walkerton, Ontario.

On the 18th anniversary of this tragedy, it is appropriate to reflect upon some of the lessons learned from this public health catastrophe, and to identify further steps that are necessary to prevent a recurrence of this event elsewhere in the province.

Assessing Canada’s Impact Assessment Act: Boon or Boondoggle?

[NOTE: This article originally appeared on The Lawyer’s Daily website published by LexisNexis Canada Inc. on April 11, 2018]

Since the 1970s, an environmental assessment process has existed at the federal level to gather information and make informed decisions about the biophysical and socio-economic impacts of diverse types of projects, such as mines, energy pipelines, and radioactive waste facilities.

Guest Blog: An international plastics treaty could avert a "Silent Spring" for our seas

An international plastics treaty could avert a "Silent Spring" for our seas

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Greening Federal Environmental Law: An Overview

The Government of Canada has recently revealed a sweeping package of legislative reforms that, if enacted, will significantly change several of Canada’s most important environmental statutes.

For example, in early February 2018, Bill C-68 was introduced for First Reading in Parliament. This Bill is intended to “modernize” the Fisheries Act, and restore “lost protections” in the Act that had been removed by the previous government in 2012.

48 Groups Demand Ontario Action on Environmental Bill of Rights Reform

Almost exactly seven years ago to the day, CELA filed a detailed Application for Review of Ontario’s decades-old Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993.

Guest Blog - People’s Great Lakes: Heal, Connect & Protect

People of diverse backgrounds, occupations, positions, experiences and histories gathered together for two days in Toronto (ON) for The People’s Great Lakes Summit 2.0: Planning Policy Action to collaborate and network to understand how to restore and protect the Great Lakes. At the event, I immediately flagged the word restore – how can we restore the Great Lakes? To what end are the Great Lakes restored? What does restoration look like?

Time to embrace a difficult conversation – reducing road salts use in Ontario

Last month, I participated in The Great Lakes Chloride Forum in Toronto. Having previously worked on the road salts file more than a decade ago without seeing any meaningful change in public policy, I was cautiously optimistic about this renewed interest. And, having had a discussion about road salts anchored by WWF Canada at The People’s Great Lakes Summit in May, I was excited to see the conversation continue.

What could Budget 2018 mean for Canada’s environment?

Canada is consulting on Budget 2018. So too, is the Canadian Environmental Law Association and 18 other leading Canadian environmental organizations who have headed to Ottawa, as the Green Budget Coalition, to tell our Ministers, Members of Parliament and Privy Council what we recommend for people and the planet in 2018.

Toxic Torts Update: Ontario’s Class Action Law under Review

Since the 1970s, CELA has called for class action reform to enable individuals to bring civil claims on behalf of large groups of people whose health or property has been adversely affected by polluting activities.

Other stakeholders, academics and entities – including the former Ontario Law Reform Commission – also advocated the need to enhance access to justice, ensure judicial efficiency and deter harmful conduct by establishing an effective class action regime.

Where you live should not harm your health

RentSafe outreach resources and baseline research reports in production

For people of comfortable means, home typically means well-being and security. Statistics confirm that wealthier people are healthier with lower levels of chronic disease, including precursor conditions like stress and hypertension.

Ontario releases 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan

On October 26, the Ministry of Energy released the Ontario’s 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP). While there was no mention of building new nuclear reactors, the Ontario government maintains its commitment to refurbishing ten nuclear units at Darlington and Bruce, and committing to keeping Pickering open until 2024. Absent was any discussion about nuclear waste and storage.

Reflections on Gord Downie’s Green Legacy

I have my hands in the river
My feet up on the banks
Looked up to the Lord above
And said hey man thanks.

“New Orleans is Sinking”, The Tragically Hip (1989)

In the days after Canadian icon Gord Downie passed away, numerous heart-felt tributes praising Gord were expressed across the country by the Prime Minister, politicians, musicians, First Nations representatives, and countless other persons from all walks of life.

Waste Reduction Week 2017: An Ontario Perspective

Since 2001, “Waste Reduction Week” (October 16-20) has been coordinated by non-governmental organizations across Canada to highlight the national need to reduce the volume of waste being generated in communities and sectors throughout the country.

Fish don’t need Prozac: Protecting the Great Lakes

A recent U.S. study found that fish in the Great Lakes are on drugs. It turns out that human antidepressants are building up in the brains of 10 fish species in the Niagara River, which connects two of the Great Lakes--Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

Federal EA Reform: The Perils of Overpromising and Underdelivering

Earlier this year, things looked promising for long overdue Parliamentary action to undo the regressive changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) enacted by the previous government.

However, recent developments now call into serious question whether the current federal government is still willing to honour its public commitment to fix the broken CEAA regime.

Replacing the Ontario Municipal Board: A Public Interest Perspective

For many decades, the independent Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) has held public hearings and rendered binding decisions on appeals, applications and other matters arising under numerous provincial statutes, including the Planning Act.

Herb Needleman – a public health hero

One of my heroes died last week. Dr. Herbert Needleman has inspired me since the early 1980s when as an undergraduate I first learned of his work on the effects of lead on children’s brains. His groundbreaking study published in 1979 measured lead in the shed baby teeth of low-income children, finding an association between what were then considered to be very low levels of lead exposure and negative impacts on brain development and functioning.

Committee report recommends major reform of Parliament's control of toxic substances

If the recommendations of a Parliamentary committee are adopted by the House of Commons, Canada will move closer to enshrining environmental rights, substituting safer alternatives, and strengthening protection of vulnerable populations in the regulation of toxic substances.

The recommendations are contained in a 162-page report released by the House Standing Environment Committee following a year long review of Canada's primary law on toxic substances, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

Hefty New Water Charge for Bottled Water Facilities Starts August 1; Meanwhile No Progress is Made Toward Full-Cost Recovery from Other Commercial and Industrial Water Users in Ontario

Effective August 1, 2017, bottled water facilities will be subject to a significantly higher fee for the water they pump from Ontario’s groundwater sources – going from $3.71 to $503.71 per million litres. While Canadian Environmental Law Association is encouraged by the government’s commitment to full-cost recovery in this instance, we remain deeply disappointed by the lack of progress toward expanding the water charges program.

Is Energy East a bad deal for Canadians?