Is Canada closer to recognizing a legal right to a healthy environment?
The federal parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development has released a report resulting from its review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). The standing committee has recommended that a right to a healthy environment be included in forthcoming revisions to the text of CEPA by including reference to a right to a healthy environment in the Act’s preamble. It also recommended that amendments be made to include the right to a healthy environment in the administrative duties of the government (which appears in section 2 of CEPA)—i.e. that the government would account for a right to the environment when developing objectives, guidelines, codes of practice, risk management tools, and when assessing the risks of toxic substances.
The Blue Dot Movement has been building momentum for the recognition of the right to a healthy environment, which it seeks to enshrine in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Several provinces have been working on writing or revising legislation that would potentially recognize the right to a healthy environment.
The standing committee dozens of additional recommendations to CEPA, many of which would strengthen federal environmental protections. For example, the committee also recommended introducing a provision in CEPA that would empower Canadian citizens to bring “environmental protection actions” against the federal government for violating CEPA.
The parliamentary review of CEPA has been ongoing since March 2016.