January 2018 Bulletin

Photo: Bardia Photography/Flickr

News & Activities

Improving Canada’s asbestos ban

CELA partnered with the Canadian Association of University Teachers to compliment the federal government for joining over 50 countries by banning the use, import, and sale of asbestos, as well as the manufacture and importation of asbestos-containing products. “This regulation provides some certainty that asbestos exposure to Canadians and workers will reduce over time starting in 2019,” says Fe de Leon, CELA researcher and paralegal. “However, the government should take this opportunity to build on its strategy to address potential exposure from legacy asbestos.”

CELA and LIEN Submissions on Climate Change Adaptation Proposal

CELA and the Low-Income Energy Network urged the Ontario government to emphasize the needs of low-income and vulnerable communities in all climate change adaptation actions. The government's planned province-wide risk assessment should include a Low-Income Barriers Study identifying the economic, social, psychological, technological, and political factors that affect the ability of low-income and vulnerable communities to adapt to climate change. The government should also be transparent about the budget for climate change adaptation. In addition, the policy should include risk assessment, detailed action plans, and progress and monitoring reports.

Photo: Justin Stevens/Flickr

Ensuring the CNSC maintains its objectivity

CELA joined more than 60 organizations and individuals in calling for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to implement the recommendations made by the Environmental Assessment Expert Panel. The panel recommended the creation of a new independent quasi-judicial authority to conduct federal environmental assessments (EAs) of nuclear projects instead of the CNSC. We believe the CNSC should limit its role as a regulator to providing technical advice and input into federal EAs of nuclear activities, but should not conduct EAs.

Improving the CNSC's draft environmental impact statement

CELA recently submitted several recommendations to improve the draft environmental impact statement for the in situ decommissioning of the Whiteshell nuclear reactor in Pinawa, Manitoba. The 65-page report compared Canada’s practices on decommissioning nuclear facilities to international precedents developed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Our submission recommended that the CNSC clarify its preferred decommissioning strategy according to international practices, clarify the scenarios in which in situ confinement is appropriate for decommissioning, and submit a final decommissioning plan for approval prior to the permanent shutdown.

Photo: Dominic Ali/CELA

Raising concerns about proposed new planning appeals rules

Ontario's controversial Bill 139 recently received Third Reading and Royal Assent, despite various concerns raised by CELA and other stakeholders during the consultation process. This Bill fundamentally changes Ontario's land use planning system by abolishing the Ontario Municipal Board, creating the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, and restricting the nature and number of appeals that may be brought under the Planning Act. Ontario is now proposing regulations to implement the Bill 139 regime, and CELA has filed a brief objecting to various changes which limit parties' rights at hearings held by the new Tribunal.

Updating the Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist

CELA joined Chemical Sensitivities Manitoba and Prevent Cancer Now to comment on Health Canada’s proposal to update the Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist. The hotlist informs manufacturers, importers, and the public about restrictions on harmful ingredients in personal care products. We recommended that the hotlist be amended to include least-toxic approaches, safer substitutions, and by adding a number of ingredients such as Chloramine, Oleandrin, Pigment Red 4, and others.

Photo: Craig Piersma/Flickr

Improving Ontario’s used tires program

CELA worked with other organizations to suggest improvements to Ontario's used tires program. It has been one of the most effective collection programs under the Province's previous waste diversion framework. We recommended modifying the current vague definition of recycling in the proposed regulations. We also suggested that the Province develop guidelines to clearly explain which types of end uses, recycling, and processing are acceptable and that it set an overall diversion target of 90 per cent with scheduled increases. In addition, the Province could require producers to include hazardous substance information on tires to enable safe processing.

Strengthening the proposed food & organic waste framework

CELA joined seven environmental organization to make a submission to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change on Ontario’s Proposed Food and Organic Waste Framework. While the proposed framework will help the province achieve its “zero waste” goal, it could be improved. Our recommendations included reducing more food waste, recovering resources from food and organic waste, supporting resource recovery infrastructure, and promoting beneficial re-uses of the collected waste.

CELA Spotlight: Isobel Heathcote

We recently caught up with CELA board member Isobel Heathcote to learn more about how she got involved with our organization.

Why did you join CELA’s board?

For decades, CELA has done some of the most important and groundbreaking work in environment law reform anywhere in Canada. I was a member of the board in the late 1980s and it was a privilege to be able to rejoin the organization a few years ago.

What inspired you to get involved in environmental conservation?

I have been working in environmental conservation for over 40 years, first in government and then as a university faculty member. For me, it was the importance of certain wild places in my life that really inspired me to get involved. It’s a great feeling to know that you are contributing to something that your children and grandchildren will benefit from.

What's been the best part of working with CELA?

First, the passion of the staff and board members. Their knowledge and commitment is a constant inspiration for me. And second, the importance of the issues CELA is tackling! This organization is working on some of the most important and leading-edge environmental issues confronting Canada today. It’s a pleasure to be part of that.

What do you think is a Canadian environmental success story that could be applied to other countries?

I think Canada has been a leader in public engagement and collaborative development of public policy. CELA is always at the table for those discussions. Many countries could learn from that experience. Our Environmental Bill of Rights is an example of something that just doesn’t exist in most parts of the world.

What do you think is Canada’s biggest environmental challenge today?

Climate change, without question. It is going to change our flood plains, our water systems, the structure of our plant and animal communities, and create opportunities for invasion of new species, some of which will be highly invasive. One of the biggest challenges is the tremendous uncertainty we are facing about exactly what will happen, when, and where. We are going to have to adjust our thinking to accommodate that uncertainty in our planning and management strategies.

When you're not working, what do you like to do?

I love to read, garden, knit, weave, and travel, especially to places where I can experience a culture that is new to me. Even when I’m not working, it’s interesting to see how other countries are tackling their own environmental challenges!

Upcoming Events

WaterScape community discussions

CELA, Ontario Environment Network, and Ontario Headwaters Institute are staging a series of community discussions on protecting water for future generations. Locations are confirmed: Caledon, Goodwood, Springwater, Brantford, Peterborough, and Niagara-on-the-Lake. For more information and to sign-up to attend, please see our announcement and registration links here.