Who We Are

The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) is a non-profit, public interest organization established in 1970 to use existing laws to protect the environment and to advocate environmental law reforms. Funded by Legal Aid Ontario, CELA is one of 76 community legal clinics located across Ontario, 18 of which offer services in specialized areas of the law (for contact information, see Getting Legal Help: A Directory Community Legal Clinics in Ontario). CELA also undertakes additional educational and law reform projects funded by government and private foundations. To find out more see our most recent Annual Report.

Clinic Mandate

CELA works toward protecting public health and the environment by seeking justice for those harmed by pollution or poor decision-making and by changing policies to prevent problems in the first place. Since 1970, CELA has used legal tools, undertaken groundbreaking research and advocated for increased environmental protection and to safeguard communities. As a specialty clinic funded by Legal Aid Ontario, our primary focus is on assisting low-income people and disadvantaged communities.

When implementing our legal aid mandate, CELA's strategic objectives are to:

  • hold governments and polluters legally accountable in relation to environmental harm or adverse effects upon public health and safety;
  • maintain and expand citizens’ environmental rights, and improve environmental equity;
  • seek proactive solutions including via the precautionary principle in order to reduce or avoid activities or exposures that may harm human or ecosystem health; and
  • ensure timely, effective cleanup of past or present pollution to achieve improvement in public health and environmental quality.