MPs will soon vote on Canada’s first environmental racism act
Too often, pollution and environmental degradation disproportionately harm racialized communities.
Canada is one of the few countries that does not recognize a human right to a healthy environment, and our federal laws do not address environmental racism.
This could soon change. Canada’s first environmental racism act, Bill C-230, the National Strategy to Redress Environmental Racism Act, is scheduled for a vote in March.
Ask your MPs to vote “yes” to Bill C-230!
Environmental racism occurs when environmental policies or practices intentionally or unintentionally result in disproportionate negative impacts on certain individuals, groups or communities based on race or colour, and as well as unequal access to environmental benefits.
Ingrid Waldron, founder of the ENRICH Project in Nova Scotia, investigates the effects of polluting industries and toxic dumps on Indigenous and Black communities. The Netflix film based on Waldron’s book, There’s Something in the Water, documents community members’ experiences with landfills in Africville and Shelbourne, pulp mill effluent discharged near Pictou Landing First Nation, and pipeline construction on Sipekne’katik First Nation territory. “The legacy of environmental racism can no longer be ignored,” Waldron says.
Air pollution trends in Canada’s major cities reveal another dimension of environmental racism. Researchers point to “distinct patterns of inequality.” Marginalized groups consistently experience higher cumulative air pollution burdens. Health risks include breathing and lung problems, heart conditions and an increased risk of stroke. Health Canada estimates that 14,600 premature deaths per year in Canada can be linked to air pollution.
If passed, Bill C-230 will require Canada’s environment minister to develop a strategy to redress environmental racism and prepare regular reports to Parliament.
Ask your MP to support Bill C-230 and work to end environmental racism.
All people in Canada have the right to a healthy environment.