October 2016 Bulletin

Challenging all MPs to support a radon tax credit

CELA has written to all federal MPs seeking support for a radon mitigation tax credit. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and is an indoor contaminant in over 600,000 homes in Canada. We mapped the results of Health Canada’s cross-Canada survey of radon and found that over half of federal ridings have homes with above-guideline radon levels. In 93 federal ridings there are over 10 per cent of homes with above-guideline levels and therein, 16 ridings with above-guideline levels in over 20 per cent of homes.

We have asked all MPs to support a tax credit and sent them the list of 93 ridings which we also published on-line, with email addresses. CELA is urging all Canadians, especially those in these 93 ridings to contact their MP and ask them to support a tax credit. See a recent blog about this issue as well as our detailed calculations for how this measure will likely result in net tax revenues to the federal and especially provincial governments. It will also result in job creation among radon mitigators and savings in both direct and indirect health care costs from lung cancer prevention. 

CELA encourages Ontario to adopt 100% renewables in its Long-Term Energy Plan

The provincial Ministry of Energy has launched its Long-Term Energy Plan consultation process and will travel to several Ontario communities over the next few months. We encourge members of the public to participate by attending in-person sessions at different locations throughout the province and sending written comments by December 17 through the EnergyTalks consultation website. In September the government announced that it would suspend its commitment to large renewable energy procurement. Although the cost of renewables has declined, the government has committed to spending billions of dollars to rebuild aging and risky nuclear power plants. A group of fourteen organizations, including CELA, believe that Ontario’s next energy plan should empower citizens and communities to join the global movement toward 100 per cent renewable energy.

Calling for healthier homes within the National Housing Strategy

As a member of the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment (CPCHE), CELA responded to a federal government consultation aimed at improving Canada's housing quality in order to better protect children’s environmental health. In response to the cross-Canada consultation towards a National Housing Strategy, we made several recommendations. The federal government must increase investment in social and rent-geared-to-income housing to ensure Canada’s housing stock quality so that everyone has access to appropriate affordable housing. Baseline research for the RentSafe project is documenting many challenges with legal, health-related, and logistical support for low-income tenants facing unfit housing conditions.

Improving the Conservation Authorities Act Review

CELA joined several environmental organizations such as Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Ontario Rivers Alliance, EcoSpark, Citizens Environment Alliance, and Ontario Nature in making submissions in response to the provincial government’s Conservation Authorities Act Review. The submissions focused on stronger decision-making oversight, improved collaboration and engagement among all resource- management parties, and modern funding mechanisms to support conservation operations. To further strengthen the Review, we also partnered with Conservation Ontario, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario to send a multi-stakeholder letter to nine provincial ministers asking for improved client service delivery and addressing the provincial funding gap.

After many years, minimal action on flame retardants

New regulations by Environment and Climate Change Canada will broaden restrictions on several toxic flame retardants known to lower children’s IQ. The amendments require domestic phase outs of PBDEs but do nothing to prevent the import of products containing these chemicals. In contrast, more comprehensive bans and restrictions in products have long been in place in European countries. We have been demanding federal action on these toxic chemicals since 2006. While these regulations are a step forward, much more needs to be done to prevent further health risks, especially to children.

Celebrating the Consumer Product Safety Annual Report

For several years, CELA has vigorously advocated for mechanisms to improve product safety regulations and public transparency about the compliance levels of manufacturers, importers, and retailers. We welcome the new Health Canada’s Annual Compliance and Enforcement Report, Fiscal Year: 2015-2016 by the Consumer Products Safety Program. Compliance and enforcement provisions under the Canada Consumer Products Safety Act are necessary to ensure public protection. Many consumer products such as cosmetics, cleaning products, toys and jewellery contain potential hazards, and this annual report is an important tool to help the public gauge how well Canadians are being kept safe from these products.

Using EA to address climate change

Ontario is seeking public comment on its draft Guide on how proponents can address climate change considerations within provincial environmental assessment processes. CELA's recent brief to the provincial government identifies various shortcomings in the draft Guide, and recommends that Ontario should implement statutory and regulatory reforms in addition to strengthening the proposed guidance material.

BLOG: Time to get serious about EA Reform in Ontario

While the Government of Canada’s review of federal environmental assessment (EA) legislation is well underway, the Ontario government has not announced or commenced a comprehensive public review of its own problematic EA regime. CELA counsel Rick Lindgren weighs in on this topic.

Court upholds OMB decision that protects CELA clients

After a month-long hearing in 2015, the Ontario Municipal Board rendered a decision that, among other things, imposed a 300-metre buffer zone to protect CELA clients and other residents from expanded quarry operations in McNab-Braeside Township. The Board also refused to approve a proposed permanent asphalt plant at the quarry. The proponent then sought leave (permission) to appeal the Board decision to the Ontario Divisional Court. In October 2016, the Court refused to grant leave to appeal [2016 ONSC 6570], and the Board decision remains intact.

Calling for an end to liquid nuclear waste convoys

CELA joined more than 20 North American non-governmental organizations in asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Barack Obama to postpone or cancel an unprecedented series of shipments of highly radioactive liquid waste from Ontario to South Carolina along public roads and over bridges that cross the Great Lakes. If a large-scale accident occurred, it could affect the health of millions of residents that rely on the Great Lakes for drinking water, including large cities like Toronto.

The Environmental Toolkit Workshop

Three CELA lawyers recently participated in a day-long public workshop on the different legal tools available to protect the environment and human health. The well-attended event was jointly sponsored by the Sustainability Network, Ecojustice and CELA. The written presentations from the workshop are now available online.

GUEST BLOG: Too much power? Then why keep Pickering running?

Citing a surplus of power, the Ontario government pulled the plug on its Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) process for acquiring wind and solar power at competitive rates. But the Minister of Energy didn’t mention that we have a glut of power because of the government’s insistence on keeping expensive nuclear plants running. This guest post by Angela Bischoff from the Ontario Clean Air Alliance explains this issue.

BLOG: Spending Cap and Trade Revenue on Low-income Ontarians

Climate change is an environmental justice issue since vulnerable communities responsible for the least carbon emissions are burdened with the most severe effects. To address this injustice, CELA has advocated that Ontario's cap and trade legislation set aside at least 25 per cent of the revenue raised by the program to assist low-income and vulnerable communities. CELA counsel Jacqueline Wilson explains in this blog post.