November 2017 Bulletin

CELA’s Executive Director Theresa McClenaghan (third from left) and members of the Green Budget Coalition met with federal finance minister Bill Morneau earlier this month.

News & Activities

What could Budget 2018 mean for Canada’s environment?

Last week, the Green Budget Coalition (GBC) met with Minister of Finance Bill Morneau to present its annual recommendations for the federal budget 2018 addressing Canada’s most pressing environmental issues. The GBC represents hundreds of thousands of Canadians. Meanwhile, on our blog, CELA Counsel Kerrie Blaise weighed in on how this budget could affect the environment.

Calling for mandatory action on radon

In a commentary recently published in Environmental Health Review, CELA joined the Canadian Partnership for Children's Health and Environment (CPCHE), the Canadian Child Care Federation, public officials, and radon experts in calling for mandatory action on radon in child care settings. Radon, radioactive soil gas that can build up to harmful levels in indoor spaces, is a known carcinogen and the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada. Despite its known risks and the availability of testing and remediation measures, most Canadian child care facilities are not tested.

Responding to OPG’s request for nuclear licence amendments

CELA recently submitted comments on Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) Request to merge an existing import-export licence with its Power Reactor Operating Licences for the Darlington and Pickering nuclear generating stations. CELA critiqued numerous items, such as the lack of public hearing of the existing import-export licence, lack of aboriginal consultation, lack of required reporting on the packaging and transport of nuclear substances, and many others. On Oct. 26, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission issued its decision to amend the Operating Licences in accordance with OPG’s requests. The Commission made several findings, including that the tritium covered by the licence amendment did not amount to a controlled substance due to the limited amounts; that the licence-type does not determine what activities can be covered by a licence; and that its licensing decision has no potential for impacting any rights of Indigenous groups.

Great Lakes in January 2015 (Photo credit: NOAA/NASA/NPP)

Calling for more protection of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence

Earlier this month, CELA Executive Director Theresa McClenaghan joined mayors, businesses, and NGOs in Ottawa for the second annual Great Lakes Parliament Hill Days. The advocates called for a collaborative process to improve Great Lakes and St. Lawrence protection and restoration and requested that the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change establish an independent panel to review federal investments aimed at improving programs that protect the waterways. (For more information on our work to protect the Great Lakes, visit CELA's Healthy Great Lakes collection.)

CELA makes suggestions to new sulphur dioxide standards

The Ontario government’s recent announcement that it would update its sulphur dioxide standards was met with cautious support by CELA. We called upon the government to quickly implement the new standards in order to reduce the public’s exposure to elevated levels of the substance. We also urged the government to ensure that the new standards were applied province-wide, instead of regionally. “The failure to implement the standards consistently would create pollution havens within the province and undermine the rule of law,” said Ramani Nadarajah, CELA Counsel.

Strengthening proposed offset regulations

CELA made a submission to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change about the Ontario Offset Credits regulation under the Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act, 2016. Our recommendations included requiring offset initiatives registered in Ontario be undertaken within the province, ensuring offset protocols consider environmental and health impacts, mandating that these initiatives do not further burden low-income and vulnerable communities, among others.

Arctic sea ice (Photo: NASA/Kathryn Hansen)

CELA comments on Cap and Trade linking

CELA made a submission to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change’s on its proposed amendments to the Cap and Trade program. One proposed amendment would expand the distribution of free allowances to certain voluntary participants, but we think it would be better to eliminate free allowances altogether. CELA also supported the adoption of an administrative penalties (AMP) regime for the cap and trade program if they are a supplement to environmental prosecutions. Serious violations of the cap and trade regulations should be dealt with by way of prosecution instead of AMPs. The MOECC should ensure that the penalty is proportionate and appropriate to the violation in question.

Strengthening the regulatory development process

CELA provided comments to the Regulatory Affairs Sector Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat in response to the draft Cabinet Directive on Regulations, posted in the Canada Gazette. We previously made comments to the federal government on this issue in 2005 and many of our concerns are still relevant. We recommended several actions to improve the regulatory development process, such as having the government apply the precautionary principle, place greater importance on regulatory efforts for public health and safety protection, establish intervenor support, and several others.

Urging changes to Cutting Unnecessary Red Tape Act (Bill 154)

CELA urged Premier Kathleen Wynne to delete or avoid proclaiming Schedule 4 of Bill 154 which requires an existing regulatory requirement to be weakened or repealed before new requirements are established. This part of the Bill raises concerns that government officials will avoid these trade-offs and forgo enacting regulations to protect public health and safety and the environment. We also issued a media release to alert the public about the damage this Bill in its current form could cause.

Air pollution in Toronto (Photo credit: UN Photo/Kibae Park)

Applauding the environment ministry’s air pollution proposal

CELA expressed its support for a proposed policy by Ontario’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to consider and address the impacts of air pollution in the province. “We strongly support this important policy announcement,” said Theresa McClenaghan, CELA’s Executive Director. “We believe that this new policy is critical to address the disproportionate level of air pollution that is borne by communities in Sarnia and Hamilton.” Ramani Nadarajah, CELA counsel, also said that “The Ministry’s new policy is consistent with the measures that have been taken in other jurisdictions to address the cumulative impact of air pollution.”

CELA’s presentation on OMB reform (Bill 139)

CELA Executive Director and Counsel Theresa McClenaghan, and articling student Jessica Karban, gave a presentation on Bill 139. They explained that most of Bill 139, relating to land use planning, should not be passed in its present form. Based on a detailed analysis conducted by CELA Counsel Richard Lindgren, they recommended that parts of the Bill be withdrawn, and the government continue consulting the public and developing a new set of amendments to ensure the province's land use planning system is fair and accountable.

Ontario government suspends landfill approval

CELA represents a citizens' group concerned about a municipal landfill in eastern Ontario that was approved in the late 1990s under the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA) and Environmental Protection Act (EPA). Over the past two decades, however, the landfill was never built, and both landfill approvals remain unused. The municipal proponent is now proposing to sell the landfill property and its approvals to a private sector company, but CELA has requested that Ontario's Environment Minister reconsider and/or revoke the outdated EAA approval in light of new information and material changes in circumstances. In the meantime, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has recently decided to suspend the EPA approval, pending further review.

For your information

CELA’s Theresa McClenaghan featured in Canadian Lawyer

The Executive Director of CELA, Theresa McClenaghan, was featured on the cover of the current Canadian Lawyer magazine. The magazine also includes an extensive article on several passionate and dedicated environmental lawyers across Canada.

Lawyers practising environmental law in Ontario

Each year CELA prepares an updated list of lawyers practising environmental law. Please note that inclusion on this list in no way implies an endorsement or recommendation. Any lawyers wishing to be included on the list can email admin@cela.ca.

CELA’s ED appointed to the Canadian Water Network

Theresa McClenaghan, CELA's Executive Director, was recently appointed to the Canadian Water Network’s national expert advisory panel. The organization is leading a national review of known and emerging contaminants in municipal wastewater and exploring options to deal with them. The panel's final report will be released in May 2018.

Upcoming events & the CELA Blog

Nuclear accidents happen – then what? (December 5)

CELA Counsel Kerrie Blaise will join others in discussing Ontario’s nuclear emergency plans. The free event takes place on December 5, from 7 - 9 p.m in the O'Brien Room A of the Pickering Recreation Complex, 1867 Valley Farm Road.

Where you live should not harm your health

If you’re a low-income tenant, a rented home or apartment may threaten your health. CELA’s Senior Researcher Kathleen Cooper explains how the Rent Safe project is focused on helping tenants and diverse service providers address indoor environmental health hazards.

Ontario’s Class Action Law under Review

The Law Reform Commission of Ontario recently announced that it is commencing an independent review of Ontario's 25-year-old class action legislation. CELA counsel Rick Lindgren discusses the environmental track record under the legislation to date, and identifies some class action reforms that are needed to ensure access to environmental justice.