CAPE welcomes the introduction of Bill C-28 to modernize the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA)

CAPE joins with other health and environmental groups – Breast Cancer Action Quebec, David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, Environmental Defence and many others – in welcoming the introduction of Bill C-28 to modernize the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). Bill C-28 will modernize Canada’s most important environmental law, and we urge all political parties to improve and pass it.

CEPA, which regulates critical environmental issues directly related to health, was initially enacted in 1988. It was last revised in 1999 – more than 20 years ago. 

CEPA is health legislation intended to keep everyone in Canada and the environment safe from toxic chemicals, harmful substances, pollution and wastes. The CAPE community, as health professionals, has a vital role to play in support of the Bill to modernize CEPA. 

Today’s exposures disproportionately impact women, children, Indigenous peoples and people living in poverty, and other populations made vulnerable to adverse environmental effects for biological and socioeconomic reasons. CEPA modernization with these current-day realities must be a priority. 

Dr. Ojistoh Horn, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment Board Member, said: “As a Mohawk physician I understand that the health of my community is connected directly to the health of the land. I have seen the impacts of toxic exposures on Indigenous peoples. CEPA reform based on science and justice is necessary to ensure all people – Indigenous peoples, racialized people, workers – are fully protected from toxic exposures. In the spirit of the Two Row Wampum, this legislation needs to ensure that the voice of the people are listened to when concerns about the health of the environment are made. We physicians are doing everything we can right now to care for our communities during this pandemic. Now that this legislation is announced, we need and expect all parties to do everything they can to ensure that it moves forward quickly and provides proper protection for the health of all people.”

The tabling of this Bill is essential as we continue to face the COVID-19 pandemic. A strengthened CEPA will be the backbone of a green and just recovery. Everyone in Canada needs adequate protection from environmental pollution and exposure to toxic chemicals that threaten their health and increase their chances of developing serious illnesses.

All political parties must now make Bill C-28 a political priority. MPs must work together to move it into committee for consideration and strengthening amendments as soon as possible. Canadians cannot wait another 21 years to reform Canada’s most important environmental law.

At CAPE, we will continue our work to strengthen and support its passage into law in our efforts to see the right to a healthy environment recognized along with a revamped approach to toxics, including disproportionate impacts. We hope to engage with you in the coming weeks to discuss contributions we can make to ensure the passage of the most robust protection through law.

Please stay tuned as to how you and the CAPE community can help move this Bill into committee for consideration and strengthen any amendments. 

Together, we will continue to support Bill C-28 for CEPA modernization into a strong law for health and environmental protection.

Read the joint statement by health and environmental groups