October 2017 Bulletin

Photo credit: Dominic Ali

News & Activities

CELA expresses concerns about Bill intended to cut "red tape"

In submissions to the Standing Committee on Social Policy, CELA expressed our opposition to several provisions of Bill 154, the proposed Cutting Unnecessary Red Tape Act. In its current form, Bill 154 establishes a one-for-one rule which would require the government to eliminate an existing regulatory requirement for every new regulation it adopts. The Bill also immunizes the Crown from liability, an indication that government’s future actions could cause adverse impacts. In addition, Bill 154 doesn’t define the appropriate conditions to impose less onerous compliance requirements on small businesses, even though so-called small businesses could potentially cause serious environmental harm. CELA also joined 15 other organizations in expressing these concerns about the proposed changes to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Strengthening proposed revisions to Ontario's Building Code

Photo credit: Dominic Ali/CELA

CELA joined the Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) and Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO) in commenting on proposed Building Code changes intended to reduce Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions. Our comments raised equity concerns for low-income Ontarians including the need for shared air-conditioned rooms to protect residents who require active cooling, windows that open to allow ventilation, and the installation of ceiling fans. We also pointed out that the current proposals do not make reference to reducing indoor radon levels or encourage food and organic waste diversion via municipal green bin programs.

Raising concerns about Ontario Municipal Board changes

CELA joined several groups in voicing concerns about the Ontario Government's rush to dismantle the Ontario Municipal Board. Proposed Bill 139 would radically alter the way Ontario’s community land-use planning decisions are made and the way communities are planned and built. "The current system in Ontario offers Ontarians important rights and protections. The changes included in Bill 139 would make it exceedingly difficult for our client community--or any other group--to play a meaningful role in the land-use decision-making process," says Theresa McClenaghan, CELA’s Executive Director and Counsel. Other groups voicing concerns include the Ontario Home Builders’ Association, Building Industry and Land Development Association, Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society, Environment North, and Advocates for Effective OMB Reform.

CNSC’s latest nuclear substances oversight report lacks environmental reporting

CELA counsel Morten Siersbaek and Kerrie Blaise appeared before the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) during a Commission meeting on October 12, to present CELA's submission on CNSC's draft 2016 Regulatory Oversight Report on the Use of Nuclear Substances in Canada. During CELA's presentation and the ensuing discussion, Siersbaek and Blaise reiterated that the draft report contains little information on protection of the environment and once again recommended that the draft report be amended to include a dedicated chapter on environmental protection to address this and other shortcomings.

Protecting the environment in advance of NAFTA’s modernization

CELA provided comments to Global Affairs Canada on its notice of intent to conduct an environmental assessment of the modernization of NAFTA. Among our recommendations, we suggested that the federal government consider binding environment, climate change and sustainable development provisions; support the inclusion of an environment chapter in NAFTA; and recognize Aboriginal rights in its upcoming negotiations.

Restoring the Navigable Waters Protection Act

CELA joined more than 80 prominent organizations and individuals in calling for Prime Minister Trudeau and Transport Minister Marc Garneau to restore legal protection for all navigable waters in Canada. We are concerned that the federal government has failed to deliver on recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure, and Communities on the Navigation Protection Act (formerly the Navigable Waters Protection Act). The government, instead, is choosing to leave 99 per cent of lakes and rivers unprotected from dam, fish farm, mining, or other industrial projects under this Act.

Improving Toronto’s emergency management plans

CELA responded to the City of Toronto’s “Report for Action – Toronto’s Emergency Management Program and Revisions to the Toronto Municipal Code” that was released earlier this month. In a historic vote last week, the City of Toronto Executive Committee agreed with recommendations made by CELA and other public interest groups. It passed a motion requesting the province provide world-class emergency response plans, pre-distribute potassium iodide (KI) pills beyond the 10 km radius, and ensure awareness campaigns are in place to inform Torontonians on how to prepare for a nuclear accident at the Pickering or Darlington nuclear stations.

Take Action & Upcoming Events

Ontario residents need better nuclear emergency planning

Half of Ontarians live near an aging nuclear reactor. But is the Ontario government adequately prepared to protect us in the event of a Fukushima-scale accident? During consultations on nuclear emergency planning, over a thousand Ontarians called for world-class nuclear emergency plans to protect them and their loved ones. By the end of 2017, the provincial government will make its decision. Our friends at Greenpeace have an online tool that makes it easy to alert your MPP and let them know that Ontario needs to improve its nuclear emergency planning. Please consider using it and sharing with your family and friends.

Open house for Ontario’s community legal clinics co-op

CELA took part in an open house for Ontario’s community legal clinics co-op. CELA recently participated in the formal launch and open house of the Co-operative of Specialty Community Legal Clinics of Ontario. After a seven-year effort, eight specialty legal clinics—including CELA--are housed under one roof at 55 University Avenue.

On the CELA Blog

Reflections on Gord Downie’s Green Legacy


CELA's Rick Lindgren discusses his experience working with Gord Downie on a precedent-setting environmental legal case. All of Canada mourned the loss of Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie when he passed away a few weeks ago. Everyone knows about his dynamic performances and heartfelt lyrics, but did you know he was also involved in an important precedent-setting environmental legal case? CELA counsel Rick Lindgren explains his experience working with the legendary Tragically Hip singer.

Waste Reduction Week 2017: An Ontario Perspective

The annual Waste Reduction Week that recently took place highlights Canada’s need to reduce the volume of waste being generated in Canada’s communities. But there’s more Ontario can do to enhance waste reduction programs in general, and to address the implementation challenges facing the Waste-Free Ontario Act, 2016 in particular. CELA counsel Rick Lindgren explains.

Ontario releases 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan

The Ministry of Energy recently released Ontario’s 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP). While there is no mention of building new nuclear reactors, the Ontario government maintains its commitment to refurbishing 10 nuclear units at Darlington and Bruce, and keeping Pickering open until 2024. There was no discussion about nuclear waste and storage. CELA Counsel Monica Poremba weighs in on what this means to Ontario residents, now and in the future.

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. Protecting them should be a priority. Find out how CELA is striving to make sure the water quality of the Great Lakes is at the top of the governments’ agendas.