Toronto, Ontario│Traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, November 23, 2021 – The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) listened eagerly today as Governor General Mary Simon delivered the Speech from the Throne at the opening of the 44th Parliament. We were very glad to see reconciliation, health and wellbeing, and climate change named as critical frames through which to understand the upcoming government priorities. We agree that “we cannot afford to wait.”
CAPE Board President and Calgary emergency physician Dr. Joe Vipond emphasized the need for immediate action: “As we have already communicated to the Prime Minister and some of his ministers, CAPE is eager to work with the government to achieve its promises of fighting climate change, ensuring future generations have a safe and healthy environment and addressing systemic racism and the need for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. We are rapidly seeing the impacts of anthropogenic global heating on the support systems for our civilization, as evidenced by recent events in B.C. For this reason, we were pleased that the government is emphasizing the importance of healthy people and a healthy planet; however, we were hoping that this speech would commit to ending our reliance on fossil fuels, implementation of an anti-environmental racism strategy, and reforming the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.”
“It is critical that the government operationalizes its commitment to a healthy response to climate change,” said CAPE Past President and Yellowknife emergency physician Dr. Courtney Howard. “We know that a planetary health approach must guide action and we are ready to bring our organizational expertise to assist the government in its efforts. We will be looking to see the health co-benefits of climate-related mitigation and adaptation measures costed out and included in the financial case presented to the public. These co-benefits were not mentioned in the speech; nonetheless, we will look to see these reflected in mandate letters for the new cabinet.”
CAPE outlined its priorities for government in the lead-up to and following the election. We remain committed to working with government to deliver in a number of key areas, including:
- Delivering a Healthy Response to Climate Change with Canada doing its fair share to meet its commitments to a maximum of 1.5 degrees C of warming through 60% reductions below 2005 levels by 2030 with a plan for decarbonization across all sectors.
- Eliminating Subsidies and Public Financing for Fossil Fuel in all forms including public finance and other fiscal support to the oil and gas sector; an immediate phase-out of fossil fuels and ban fossil fuel advertising; cancellation of the TransMountain expansion project and implementation of lobbying standards to counteract the current outsized influence of the oil and gas industry.
- Eliminating Thermal Coal Exports by 2023
- Protecting Canadians from Harmful Chemicals and Advancing Environmental Justice by introducing a significantly stronger bill to reform the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and work to pass this bill by summer 2022 as well as re-introduce Bill C-230, as reported by committee, and seek the agreement of other parties to proceed to third reading before the end of the year.
- Ensuring Workers and Communities Prosper as We Move to Net-Zero by moving forward with Just Transition legislation, guided by the feedback from workers, unions, Indigenous peoples, communities, and provinces and territories.
- Implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action fully integrated into delivering on climate commitments, a just transition and a healthy recovery.
Canada’s course of action on climate change and toxics over the upcoming years is crucial to ensure everyone’s right to a healthy environment. Healthy people depend on a healthy planet. CAPE is ready to work with the government to implement the strongest measures for environmental health protection and justice in Canada.
The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) is a physician-directed non-profit organization working to secure human health by protecting the planet. For further information, visit www.cape.ca.
For media inquiries, please contact:
National Communications Director, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
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