Bill C-226 will be an effective legislative tool for addressing environmental racism in Indigenous, Black, and other racialized communities across Canada.
Bill C-226 mirrors the bill that was first introduced as Bill C-230 in February 2020 as a Private Member’s Bill by MP Lenore Zann.
The bill, with amendments, passed at second reading, with support from the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc Quebecois. With the election call in 2021, the bill died on the order paper. Fortunately, the bill has been resurrected.
On February 2, 2022, Green Party MP Elizabeth May introduced An Act Respecting the Development of a National Strategy to Assess, Prevent and Address Environmental Racism and To Advance Environmental Justice (Bill C-226) in the House of Commons. Given that Bill C-230 has already moved through Parliament and Bill C-226 is the exact same bill, there should be support for fast tracking with unanimous consent.
Environmental racism refers to the disproportionate location and greater exposure of Indigenous, Black, and other racialized communities to polluting industries and other environmental hazards. Environmental justice is a principle that guides the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of racialization, gender, sex, ability, national origin, or income concerning the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
The toxic burdens faced by racialized communities living and working in Canada have been linked to high rates of cancer, reproductive diseases, respiratory illnesses, and other health problems in these communities.
From the decision approximately 60 years ago to offload pulp mill effluent into Pictou Landing First Nation’s pristine Boat Harbour, and toxic landfills placed in the African Nova Scotian communities of Shelburne and Lincolnville, to mercury contamination in Grassy Narrows First Nation, and exposures from petrochemical facilities by Aamjiwinaang First Nation in Chemical Valley in Ontario and British Columbia, the legacy of environmental racism can no longer be ignored.
ABOUT THE BILL
Bill C-226, should it become law, will be a tool to address environmental racism in Indigenous, Black, and other racialized communities from coast to coast.
Bill C-226 is asking the Minister of Environment & Climate Change to develop a strategy that must include measures to:
- Examine the link between race, socio-economic status, and environmental risk.
- Collect information and statistics relating to the location of environmental hazards.
- Collect information and statistics relating to negative health outcomes in communities that have been affected by environmental racism.
- Assess the administration and enforcement of environmental laws in each province.
- Address environmental racism including in relation to:
- possible amendments to federal laws, policies, and programs,
- the involvement of community groups in environmental policymaking,
- compensation for individuals or communities,
- ongoing funding for affected communities, and
- access of affected communities to clean air and water.
There are a number of actions you can take to get the message out:
- Send an email to your MP asking them to support Bill C-226.
- Call your MP and let them know why Bill C-226 is important to you.
- Tweet MPs across the country to indicate why you support Bill C-226 and why Canada needs environmental racism legislation.
- Share your thoughts with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault about why Canada needs environmental justice legislation now.
Help spread the word by:
- Tweeting MPs (Twitter handles below) using the hashtag #EnvRacismBillC226
- Communicating with your social media followers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to show your support for Bill C-226 using the hashtags #EnvRacismBillC226
- Asking your friends, family, and colleagues in a tweet or Facebook post to send the email template letter above, write to or call the MPs, Minister of Environment, and the Prime Minister.
Here are some sample tweets you can use to send to MPs, the Minister of Environment, and the Prime Minister:
#EnvRacismBillC226 I am calling on MPs across all political parties to support #BillC226 to address environmental racism. We can no longer look the other way (include Twitter handles for MPs) @s_guilbeault @justintrudeau
#EnvRacismBillC226 We are counting on you to make #EnvironmentalRacism a thing of the past by supporting #BillC226. (include Twitter handles for MPs) @s_guilbeault @justintrudeau
#EnvRacismBillC226 All people should have the power to control their #environment. Indigenous, Black, and other racialized communities should have a say in what happens in their communities. The passing of #BillC226 in the House would address this issue and will benefit everyone. (include Twitter handles for MPs) @s_guilbeault @justintrudeau
It’s time for Canada to clean up its act and I’m counting on the Canadian government to make it happen. #EnvRacismBillC226 (include Twitter handles for MPs) @s_guilbeault @justintrudeau
Twitter handles, Facebook pages and phone numbers
Contact Information for MPs:
Our Commons: https://www.ourcommons.ca/members/en/search
Open Parliament: https://openparliament.ca/politicians/
Phone numbers and addresses for MPs: https://www.ourcommons.ca/Members/en/addresses
Minister of Environment & Climate Change Steven Guilbeault:
Address: Minister of Environment and Climate Change of Canada, Fontaine Building 12th floor, 200 Sacré-Coeur Blvd, Gatineau QC K1A 0H3
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:
- Joint Press Release, June 19, 2023, “Groups Call for Senate Vote on Environmental Racism Bill Before Summer Recess“
- Joint Press Release, November 14, 2022, “High time to pass environmental racism bill, advocates say“
- Joint letter, request to move quickly to report Bill C-226 when Parliament resumes: Expedite C-226 – ENVI September 16 2022
- Joint Press Release, June 17, 2022: Civil society groups urge expedited passage of Canada’s first environmental bill
- A broad spectrum of groups urges Parliament to expedite passage of Canada’s first environmental racism bill, ahead of the House of Commons debate
- CAPE submission to highlight the importance of passing Bill C-230: An Act respecting the development of a national strategy to redress environmental racism into law.
- “Enviro groups ask feds to adopt environmental racism bill”: https://www.nationalobserver.com/2021/10/22/news/enviro-groups-ask-feds-adopt-environmental-racism-bill
- ENRICH Project on Bill C-230: https://www.enrichproject.org/support-environmental-racism-legislation/
- Joint submission re: Bill C-226, An Act Respecting the Development of a National Strategy to Assess, Prevent and Address Environmental Racism and To Advance Environmental Justice (June 2022)