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Opportunities to Progress Environmental Justice in Canadian Policy: National EJ Strategy & RTHE Implementation Framework

Updated: 5 days ago

On Feb 8th, 2024, the Government of Canada launched a website to allow for a centralized place for the general public to provide feedback to shape Canada’s approach towards supporting environmental justice. There are currently two major policy intervention opportunities for the public to engage in (briefly outlined below), and for both, this website summarizes the timelines for consultation periods where the Government asks for input from the public, as well as industry, public and non-profit sectors. It also offers background information on the policies in question and provides online feedback forms that can be directly submitted to the Government. The first step folks can take is to Register with this website so that as opportunities arise to provide feedback, you are readily able to do so.


Policy Intervention Opportunity 1: Helping to Define What a “Right to a Healthy Environment” Means in Policy and in Practice Through the Development of a “Right to a Healthy Environment Implementation Framework”


WHAT do I need to know?

  • In 2000, the Government of Canada put into effect a new, broad national environmental legislation aimed at preventing pollution and protecting the environment and human health, called the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, or CEPA for short (1).


  • CEPA was updated for the first time in June 2023 to include language that made it Federal law for “every individual in Canada to have the Right to a Healthy Environment”; however, as part of this update, the Government has until June 2025 to define what that means in policy and in practice through the creation of a “Right to a Healthy Environment Implementation Framework” (2). This policy intervention is helping to develop this.


WHY is this policy intervention important for advancing intersectional environment and climate justice?

  • This process offers a huge opportunity to input on the creation of an Implementation Framework with the vision of ensuring that the needs of people who are the most structurally vulnerable to environmental hazards (e.g., due to disproportionate exposure to pollutants/toxins and barriers in access to environmental benefits such as green space) are meaningfully included and addressed. In doing so, it works to support distributional justice, which is foundational to progress upon environmental racism and justice.


  • By increasing awareness of this engagement, and the possibility for civil society to accessibly partake, we can work towards ensuring that those most disproportionately impacted by the outcomes of these policies are meaningfully included in shaping the priorities and procedures involved within the Implementation Framework, with the inclusion of diverse expertise informed by these groups’ unique ancestral, traditional, cultural, and scientific knowledges and worldviews which are often excluded in our present-day Western, Euro-settler-centric policy making practices. This works to support the procedural and recognitional justice dimensions of intersectional environment and climate justice.


WHO can get involved in providing feedback?

  • Anyone and everyone is invited, and it’s important that all members of our society show up for this process. Both the natural world and our built environment shape our health outcomes in really important ways. 


  • You do not need to be an expert, nor should a lack of disciplinary training or expertise hold you back from participating in informing the Government of your needs and perspectives on this topic. Sharing your experiences and priorities is a critical part of these consultations, particularly from community members who are more structurally vulnerable to higher exposure to environmental hazards in their workplaces, neighbourhoods or recreational settings. 


  • The concerns of racially, ethnically and gender-minoritized populations often go under-documented and so in the absence of this data, it is hard to recommend policy solutions to address these inequities. Thus, it is especially important for these individuals and communities, with lived experiences of environmental health inequities, to partake in sharing their perspectives with the Government to ensure they do not continue to be under-served by policies meant to offer all Canadians environmental and human health protection.


HOW can one get involved in this policy intervention, WHEN is the feedback due, and WHERE can I provide the feedback?


Provide Feedback on…

Process

Deadline

1. Read the Discussion Document

2. Submit your feedback to the government by emailing: healthyenv-envsain@ec.gc.ca 


and/or 


3. Submit your feedback directly on the Government’s new Environmental Equity website online form (button for the submission form is at the bottom of the dedicated hyperlinked pages below, for each of the “Key Elements” of the discussion document) with answers to the following questions asked by the Government:


A) Scope and limits of the right

  • What does a healthy environment mean to you in the context of actions taken under CEPA?

  • How would you know if your environment is healthy?

  • How would you see the factors to limit the consideration of the right being taken into account when making decisions under CEPA?


B) Related principles

  • Are any of these principles and the way in which they can contribute to the right to a healthy environment under CEPA unclear?

C) Procedural duties

  • Are any of these procedural duties unclear?

  • What opportunities do you see within the CEPA management cycle to consider these procedural duties and strengthen the protection of the right?

April 8th, 2024

The Draft Implementation Framework (not yet released)

TBD, will be updated when information is released.

TBD

The Implementation Framework (not yet released)

TBD, will be updated when information is released.

TBD


Overview of the Timeline & Steps for Policy Intervention




Other Ways to Engage If You Lack Time, Capacity or Resources

If you are overwhelmed by this process, lack the capacity, the time, or resources to fully engage, just know that our team has subject matter experts working on providing feedback throughout this engagement to progress an intersectional environmental and climate justice agenda. 


If you are an individual who wishes to share their perspectives and priorities directly to us to inform how we go about providing feedback, you can share it with us via this Google Form and we will be sure to review it and incorporate it as best we can to ensure the input of the communities we serve is shaping our response. 


If you are a member of an organization, collective, coalition or network who would be interested in endorsing, co-signing or collaborating with us on our feedback throughout this process, you can also leave your information in the same Google Form, and we can be in touch about providing an advance review copy of our feedback at each stage to see if you’d like to add in your logo and your wider public-facing endorsement of our submissions.


For all other inquiries, please email info@shakeuptheestab.org


Visit www.shakeuptheestab.org/post/rtheconsultation to follow along as SUTE participates in Right to a Healthy Environment consultation workshops and drafting our written feedback, including key takeaways, the input we gave, and our overall vibe check from throughout the process.


Policy Intervention Opportunity 2: Helping Canada to Develop a National Strategy for Environmental Justice Which Assesses, Prevents and Addresses Environmental Racism


  • “In December 2021, the mandate letter for the Minister of Environment and Climate Change included a commitment to introduce legislation to require the development of an environmental justice strategy. 

  • In February 2022, the Government supported the Private Member’s Bill C-226: An Act respecting the development of a national strategy to assess, prevent and address environmental racism and to advance environmental justice in Parliament. This bill includes the requirement to have a strategy to promote efforts across Canada to advance environmental justice and to assess, prevent, and address environmental racism. This includes a study looking at the links between race, socioeconomic status, and environmental risks. The strategy will include these findings and measures to advance environmental justice, such as possible amendments to federal laws, policies, and programs.

  • Environmental justice and environmental racism are broad concepts that can be applied in various contexts. While environmental racism and justice is a new area of work for the Government of Canada, grassroots organizations have significant knowledge and experience in advocating for communities and raising awareness on these issues. The Government of Canada aims to work with these organizations, affected communities, and those with lived experiences to inform the development of a national strategy.”


CURRENT STATUS OF POLICY INTERVENTION

  • Our team is closely monitoring opportunities to actively participate in shaping this process, but there are currently no active, public-facing components to provide commentary upon.


  • We previously attended a workshop hosted by the Canadian Coalition for Environment and Climate Justice where they invited Amanda Monforton, who is leading the process to provide an update and an overview on next steps. The Government has a short timeline, of likely around 1.5 years to set this strategy up, and as part of this work, it was mentioned numerous times that the Government MUST listen to any and all input provided by anyone in Canada who wishes to be engaged in this process. We were advised that anyone is able to reach this team at EJ-JE@ec.gc.ca should anyone want to provide further comments or questions to Amanda and her team.

Although we have reached out to express interest, due to a high volume of emails, we have not yet received any further information about next steps on this work.


ABOUT US

Shake Up The Establishment is a national youth-led climate justice nonprofit that specializes in organizing for non-partisan, evidence-informed, community-based and equity-centred policy advocacy across so-called Canada. Visit ShakeUpTheEstab.org for more about our work, sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media (Instagram/LinkedIn/Facebook) to stay engaged in future opportunities to have your say!


We are a volunteer-run organization and are doing all of this work fuelled by our passion for justice, and our vision of no one being left behind in our design and implementation of climate solutions. If you are able to donate to support our overhead costs, we would be very grateful as we rely on the support of community to help us continually scale up the impact of our critical work.

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