Staff Blog

Let Canada and Ontario know your priorities for the Great Lakes – St Lawrence River Basin

The Canada-Ontario Agreement (COA) Respecting the Great Lakes Ecosystem is being renegotiated by the federal and provincial governments.

Decline of environmental law, public oversight in Ontario’s North

Article originally published May 10, 2019 online in The Lawyer's Daily

Ontario is witnessing a swift and disturbing de-evolution of its key environmental laws. The province has proposed to further add to the already expansive list of projects exempt from the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA) and amend rather than fully implement the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Approaching CELA's 50th Anniversary - Back to Basics

As we approach our 50th anniversary, it’s “Back to Basics” for CELA! During our 2016 strategic planning exercise we decided to focus our work on two key themes:

Reflecting on the connection between law reform and litigation

In anticipation of CELA’s upcoming 50th anniversary, I have been reflecting on the relationship between CELA’s law reform and litigation work. The best analogy that comes to mind is the relationship between public health and health care; public health is about preventing disease and promoting human health, while health care is about providing treatment to people who are already sick. CELA’s law reform work tries to prevent the public health and environmental issues from arising in the first place.

It is time to end toxic recycling: Canadian global position to abandon recycling exemption needed for a safe circular economy

Health and Environment Justice Support (HEJSupport) and Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) have appealed to Environment and Climate Change Canada with a call to withdraw Canada’s recycling exemptions for well used for flame retardancy – TetraBDE, PentaBDE, HexaBDE and HeptaBDE- also known collectively as polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs) persistent organic pollutants (POPs) listed under the Stockholm Convention. Both organisations require Canada to make this decision at the next Conference of Parities to the Convention that is open in Geneva on April 29.

Preliminary Observations - Crown Liability and Proceedings Act, 2019 Schedule 17 of Bill 100, 1st Session, 42nd Legislature

In Ontario, regulatory negligence claims may be brought against the government by aggrieved persons seeking compensation for loss, injury or damages arising from careless conduct by provincial officials, agents and servants. The standard of care, harm, and causation elements of regulatory negligence do not differ significantly from a standard negligence claim against non-governmental defendants.

Access to Environmental Justice in Canada: The Road Ahead

Article originally published April 3, 2019 online in The Lawyer's Daily

 Across Canada, low-income persons and disadvantaged communities often bear a disproportionate burden of the adverse health and environmental impacts from contaminants that are discharged into air, land and water.

Federal Credibility on Radon Undermined by Sluggish Action on Canada Labour Code

We all know about the latency of carcinogens. Many years – literally decades - can pass between exposure and cancer onset. The science is typically highly complex and there is often uncertainty about cause and effect. But for a few carcinogens, including radon, benzene, asbestos, and others, uncertainty has long since been erased. We know they cause cancer and we need to act.

Bill C-69 Update: The Countdown Clock Continues

CELA lawyer Richard Lindgren (L) and Professor Stewart Elgie (R) prepare to testify before the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources on April 2, 2019 (credit: Kathleen Cooper)

Q and A with Environmental Commissioner of Ontario Dianne Saxe

Last week, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO), Dianne Saxe, issued her final report to the Ontario legislature. The report was especially notable because the ECO was recently eliminated by a change in provincial leadership. CELA caught up with Saxe for a quick phone interview to hear her thoughts about the 25th anniversary of Ontario’s landmark Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) and what the loss of the ECO means to the province.

Financial Incentives for Radon Mitigation: Logical Next Steps for a Priority Indoor Air Pollutant

Among indoor pollutants, radon is a top priority for two key reasons. First, scientific evidence clearly links radon to lung cancer. Second, many Canadians are affected. In Ontario alone, radon causes over 1300 new lung cancer cases per year and 850 deaths.

Pesticides and products liability: American success, Canadian challenge

Article originally published January 24, 2019 online in The Lawyer's Daily

In August 2018, a verdict of a California jury in Johnson v. Monsanto found Monsanto liable to a groundskeeper who said the company’s weedkiller, Roundup (active ingredient glyphosate), caused his cancer. The jury awarded Mr. Johnson $289 million in damages, later reduced to $78 million by the judge on an appeal by the company.

CELA Applauds the 25th Anniversary of Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights

On February 15, 1994, Ontario’s ground-breaking Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) was proclaimed into force by the provincial government.

From CELA’s perspective, this proclamation was a long overdue but momentous occasion. CELA had been pushing for an EBR in the 1970s and 1980s, and CELA served as a member of the Environment Minister’s Task Force on the EBR in the early 1990s.

Ontario Axes Independent Environmental Watchdog

NOTE: This article originally appeared on The Lawyer’s Daily website published by LexisNexis Canada Inc. on January 8, 2019

The Ontario government recently passed Bill 57 (Restoring Trust, Transparency and Accountability Act, 2018), which is omnibus legislation intended to implement the government’s 2018 Fall Economic Statement.

Government's Low Reduction Targets for the Widely Used Antimicrobial Substance Triclosan Continue to Disappoint Environmentalists: Lacks protection for Canadian Lakes, Rivers, and Human Health

Moving Forward on Asbestos in Canada

At the beginning of 2019, new regulations came into effect in Canada that prohibit the import, use, sale, manufacture, and export of asbestos and products containing asbestos. These updated federal regulations mark an important step forward after years of attempts to ban asbestos.

Ontario’s drinking water rules are not red tape

Opinion originally published December 21, 2018 by the Toronto Star.

A fierce debate was recently unleashed in Ontario when the provincial government introduced Bill 66, which is said to be about reducing “red tape.” As soon as someone says those words, most people are all for it. Who hasn’t been frustrated by some long, obscure form to fill out at one point or another?

Sound e-waste management in Canada: Is there room for improvement?

Deregulation Redux: Ontario’s Environmental Laws under Attack (Again)

CELA’s core mandate is to use and improve the law in order to safeguard the environment, protect the interests of low-income and vulnerable communities, and ensure access to environmental justice.

In Ontario, however, it now appears that our main challenge is not to incrementally strengthen provincial laws, but to fend off ill-advised governmental attempts to repeal key environmental statutes and eliminate environmental regulations as “red tape.”

Erroneous message from Canada’s nuclear regulator could allow nuclear energy projects to escape federal environmental assessment

A message about federal environmental assessments is being circulated by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, one of Canada’s energy regulators, with the potential to undermine the fundamental principles of Canadian environmental assessment environmental assessment law and remove significant nuclear projects from federal environmental assessment review.