Hearings on contaminated communities (October 2001)

The Hon. Charles Caccia
Chairman
Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development

Dear Mr. Caccia:

Re: Hearings on Contaminated Communities

Like many other groups and individuals involved in issues of health and the environment, CAPE is only too aware of a number of communities across Canada who are facing extraordinary environmental threats to their present and future health and well-being. In many cases, these communities have been contaminated for many years, even decades, and often with a multitude of chemicals. They are, in point of fact, Canada’s ‘Love Canals’.

In our analysis, there is a common thread that links these communities, whether they are contaminated with heavy metals, persistent organic pollutants or radioactive materials. The pattern is one of persistent corporate and governmental denial, obfuscation and suppression of data, resulting in tremendous psychosocial stress and acute and chronic disease, to say nothing of serious economic impacts. The concerns of community residents are frequently down played and belittled; consequently they are left to fight for their health and security with scant resources and minimal support.

Because it is nation-wide and reflects systemic failure at the highest levels, we believe it is time to hold Parliamentary hearings on this issue. Such hearings would: help to raise public awareness of contaminated communities; provide an opportunity for citizens’ concerns to be voiced at the highest level; draw upon and collate the experience of these communities and of organizations dealing with contamination both here and elsewhere; identify models of good practice elsewhere in the world that could be applied here in Canada; and mobilize the political and social will to act. Needed actions include putting in place programs to swiftly and yet comprehensively investigate, validate and remediate these situations and, where appropriate, provide adequate compensation.

Our request for these hearings is supported by a number of communities and organizations, as per the attached list. We hope that you will agree to direct the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development to convene these hearings in the near future. We believe that by doing so, your Committee would be doing an inestimable service to thousands upon thousands of Canadians whose lives have been blighted, first by toxic contamination, and then by neglect and systematic denial of their suffering

Sincerely,

Warren Bell,
President

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