Our new government will determine Canada’s course of action on climate change and toxics over the upcoming crucial years. Though we have been overwhelmed the past year and a half with addressing and adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic, recent horrifying weather events in Canada and around the world are top of mind. The COVID-19 pandemic did not replace the other environmental health concerns we are facing—if anything, it has brought into focus the interconnectedness of human health and our environments. We continue to be confronted with the adverse health impacts of the climate crisis, exposure to toxic chemicals, workplace health and safety concerns, structural inequities, and environmental racism.
Polling shows that environment/climate and health are among the top concerns for people in Canada. We cannot let election candidates nor the next government ignore these issues.
So then – what can you do in this election period?
Register to vote – and vote!
If you are eligible to vote, be sure that your voter information is accurate by checking on the Elections Canada website – and then be sure to vote!
Host an all-candidates debate
We are encouraging CAPE members to organize an all-candidates debate on the environment with support from GreenPAC! GreenPAC’s 100 Debates for the Environment organizers will provide an excellent step-by-step toolkit as well as organizing support for your debate, and CAPE is putting together a supplemental guide for CAPE members organizing a health-oriented debate.
Engage directly with your candidates
Whether you receive a phone call or knock at the door, attend a debate, run into a candidate at a community event, or send an email or post on their Facebook page – there are many opportunities to engage with your local candidates for Parliament.
Across your engagements with MP candidates in this upcoming election, we encourage you to stress the importance of upholding the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, the vast majority of which remain unaddressed.
Here are a few key issues you can ask your candidates about:
- Reform the Canadian Environmental Protection Act
The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) legislates critical environmental issues directly related to health through the assessment and management of chemical substances, pollution, vehicle emissions and hazardous wastes to prevent, reduce or control environmental and human health impacts. CEPA was initially enacted in 1988 and last amended in 1999. An Act to amend CEPA was introduced on April 13, 2021. The first reading of Bill C-28, Strengthening Environmental Protection for a Healthier Canada Act, was hailed as an essential first step.
We can’t let the election stall our progress on the update of CEPA.
Ask your MP candidates for their commitment to the rapid reintroduction of an improved Bill C-28 after the election: Tell them a clean environment, emissions reductions, and environmental rights lead to better health. We cannot afford any more delay in the modernization of CEPA.
- Phase-out fossil fuels and support a well-planned transition
The recent IPCC report made it more clear than ever that we need to end our global reliance on fossil fuels to sustain planetary health. Here in Canada, we have to travel a steep curve to phase out fossil fuels in a way that ensures the health and wellbeing of workers and Indigenous peoples currently reliant on the fossil fuel economy. Despite a commitment to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, in 2020 the Government of Canada announced at least $18 billion in subsidies and public financing for the oil and gas sector.
Ask your MP candidates for their commitments to end all subsidies, public finance, and other fiscal supports to the oil and gas sector by 2022, including financial support provided through Export Development Canada. Ask that workers and Indigenous peoples are key members of all transition planning processes. And any new government needs to commit to cancelling the Trans Mountain Expansion and all support for new fossil fuel development.
- End thermal coal exports
In a major victory, Canada has a plan to phase out the mining of thermal coal, or coal burned for electricity. However, we continue to export American coal to countries around the world. Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel, and physicians involved in CAPE have played a key role in pointing out the many health harms of coal within Canada. Now we need to extend this work globally.
Ask your MP candidates for their commitment to ban thermal coal exports.