Staff Blog

An Opportunity to Comment - A Review of the 2020 Draft Canada-Ontario Agreement for the Great Lakes

The Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health (COA) is the key agreement that outlines how the provincial and federal governments will work together to conserve, protect and restore the waters and wetlands of the Great Lakes - St Lawrence Basin.  In a tim

Lawyers on access to justice Day of Action

Access to justice has two different but intersecting meanings. The first focuses on ensuring that a person who interacts with the justice system can do so with the legal and expert assistance they need to navigate a complex, and often perplexing, system.

The second focuses on the more substantive aspect of access to justice. Social justice lawyers advocate for access to real, true, substantive justice — not just procedural access to the system — and focus on changing the law to be more equitable for low-income and vulnerable people.

Great Lakes Protection Needs Strong Renewed Canada-Ontario Agreement

The Canada-Ontario Agreement (COA) on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health (versions of which have continued since 1971) is the key agreement that outlines how the governments of Canada and Ontario will cooperate and coordinate on actions to protect and restore waters and wetlands in the Great Lakes - St Lawrence Basin. To be most effective, it needs to be ambitious and provide strong leadership.

Join the Day of Action on July 30 to Reverse Cuts to CELA

We reached out to CELA friends and supporters this week to ask for supporters and friends to call on the Ontario government to reverse the cuts to legal aid, and CELA specifically, as part of a province-wide day of action on July 30. As you know, the government of Ontario significantly reduced funding to Legal Aid Ontario in the last budget and Legal Aid Ontario has reduced CELA's budget by approximately 30% phased in over two years.

A New Registry for Environmental Notices in Ontario - The EBR Registry is now the ERO

If you live in Ontario you have important rights about the decisions your government makes about the environment. You must be notified and given an opportunity to provide input before decisions are made on certain environmentally significant proposals. These public notice and participation rights exist under Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR.) For many years, the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry (EBR Registry) has been the government’s online tool to facilitate this public input.

Canada’s Impact Assessment Act: A Public Interest Perspective

After years of public consultation, partisan debate and jurisdictional wrangling, Parliament has recently given Royal Assent to Bill C-69.

Water, Waste, Wildlife: Canada’s Environment Week 2019

[Note: This article was originally published online on June 3, 2019 in The Lawyers Daily]

Since 1971, the week of June 5 has been declared by federal law as “Canadian Environment Week.” According to a federal website, this event “celebrates Canada’s environmental accomplishments and encourages Canadians to contribute to preserving and protecting their environment.”

Help from RentSafe for tenants dealing with mould

New resources are available from the RentSafe team to help tenants and their doctors address mould problems in poorly maintained housing. Mould is among the top indoor environmental health concerns faced by tenants.

Mould grows when there is excess moisture from leaks in roofs, ceilings, or from faulty plumbing, old or poorly maintained windows, a lack of kitchen or bathroom ventilation, damp basements, etc.

Health problems from mould can include persistent coughing, worsening of asthma symptoms, and other respiratory problems. Children can be at particular risk.

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.