January 2014 Bulletin

20th anniversary of Ontario’s EBR: Time for change

February 2014 will mark the 20th anniversary of the date when Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) went into effect. Over the past two decades, CELA’s lawyers have used various EBR tools to help protect the environment, enhance public participation in decision-making and ensure governmental accountability. However, the EBR track record demonstrates that it is now time for Ontario to update and improve this important legislation, as explained in a recent blog by CELA lawyer Richard Lindgren. Read the blog here.

Strengthening Ontario’s Wells regulation

Early this month, the Ministry of the Environment received an EBR Application for Review of Ontario Regulation 903 (Wells) and certain provisions of the Ontario Water Resources Act. This EBR Application was filed by CELA lawyers on the grounds that the existing wells regime is outdated and inadequate to safeguard the environment and public health. The Ministry’s response to CELA’s EBR Application is due in March.

Improving Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Program

In recent years, CELA, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, advisory committees and other stakeholders have made numerous recommendations to improve Ontario’s much-maligned environmental assessment (EA) program. However, the provincial government has generally failed to act upon (or even formally respond to) these well-founded suggestions for long overdue EA reform. To address key EA deficiencies, CELA recently filed an EBR Application for Review of the Environmental Assessment Act and six EA regulations. The Ministry’s response to CELA’s EBR Application is due in March.

Increasing awareness about radon dangers

A new study published this month in the British Medical Journal confirms Health Canada’s warnings about the danger of radon gas, a story that was well-reported in the Globe and Mail. These findings recall our Healthy Retrofits report that looked at the need to link indoor environmental health with energy conservation measures. Draft-proofing of homes is important for saving energy, money, and making homes more comfortable. But it can also lead to various indoor air quality problems, including radon build-up in some homes. High levels of radon can increase lung cancer risk, and the risk is even greater if there is exposure to cigarette smoke. CELA continues to work within the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment (CPCHE) to raise awareness about radon. Our educational materials provide tips on radon testing and remediation. You can also join the CPCHE's mailing list.

CELA board member John Jackson wins award

CELA board member John Jackson was recently awarded the Buzz Besadny Award for fostering Great Lakes partnerships by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. The award recognizes individuals who exemplify an extraordinary commitment to building strong and lasting partnerships in Great Lakes resource management. Jackson has worked with citizens' groups on environmental contamination, waste management, water quantity and quality issues, as well as citizen involvement and decision-making issues for over 30 years. Jackson is also an expert on the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. He will receive his award this summer during the commission's annual meeting.

CELA’s 2013 Annual Report

Have a look at our achievements for 2013 by downloading our latest annual report.