On December 10, 2015, Toronto became the 100th municipality to declare the right to a healthy environment. Since Toronto’s declaration, Milton, Stratford and Saugeen Shores, have also joined in making the declaration. A full list of municipalities that have made the declaration for a right to a healthy environment can be found at bluedot.ca/declarations.
These declarations are all part of the David Suzuki Foundation’s Blue Dot Movement, that asks all Canadian municipalities to adopt declarations that recognize their citizens’ right to a healthy environment. The declarations are part of a broader campaign to ultimately see Canada enshrine a right to a healthy environment into the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
On its way there, the campaign aims to have at least seven out of ten provinces, representing more than 50 percent of Canadians, enact an Environmental Bill of Rights. This formula was chosen as it reflects section 38 (the amending formula) of the Canadian Constitution.
Right now, five Canadian provinces have some form of environmental bill of rights legislation. Ontario passed its Environmental Bill of Rights in 1993. The pre-amble makes reference to a right to live in a healthy environment, but the statute does not have enforceable provisions to protect or guarantee that right.
In October of 2014, MPP Linda Duncan introduced a Private Members’ Bill to establish a Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights. The bill did not, like most private members’ bills, become law, but it did and does set the stage for further discussions at the national level and ultimately, for an amendment to the Charter.
For more background on this issue, you can read the staff report prepared for Toronto City Council.