Petition to strengthen Canada’s toxics law tabled in Parliament today

OTTAWA — The federal government doesn’t know if its efforts to protect people in Canada from toxic substances have been effective, according to the fall 2018 reports of the Commissioner for Environment and Sustainable Development. The David Suzuki Foundation wants government to act quickly on the commissioner’s recommendations and strengthen the legislative framework for regulating toxics. Today MP Deb Schulte tabled a formal petition in support of modernizing Canada’s toxics law, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

“It’s concerning that many regulations to control risks from toxic substances appear not to be adequately enforced,” David Suzuki Foundation senior researcher and analyst Lisa Gue said. “Canada needs to strengthen CEPA and invest in modern enforcement capacity.”

In June, government acknowledged that CEPA needs to be updated, in response to the recommendations of a House of Commons environment committee study. Schulte was committee chair at the time of the CEPA review, which included a focus on the legislative framework for assessing and regulating toxics.

“The government should recognize that people in Canada have a right to a healthy environment,” Peter Wood, David Suzuki Foundation national campaign manager, environmental rights, said. “There’s support for strengthening Canada’s toxics law, and it goes without saying that Canadians also expect effective implementation and enforcement.”

Waterloo resident Kerry Mueller initiated the e-petition in support of CEPA reform and recognition of the basic human right to a healthy environment (petition e-1659) on May 10, 2018. More than 11,000 people from every province and territory signed the petition, making it one of the largest parliamentary e-petitions on environmental protection to date.

The petition calls for legislative amendments to include:

  • stronger protections from toxic exposures,
  • enforceable national air quality standards,
  • recognition of the basic human right to a healthy environment and adequate protection for vulnerable populations.

The commissioner’s report also investigates whether federal departments adequately protect marine mammals from threats posed by marine vessels and commercial fishing.

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For more information or interview requests, please contact:

Alan Worsley,, 604-732-4228 ext. 1211 (office), 604-600-5341 (cell)

Lisa Gue, David Suzuki Foundation spokesperson on toxics, 613-914-0747

Jay Ritchlin, David Suzuki Foundation spokesperson on marine mammals, 604-961-6840

More information:

The E-petition.

Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development recommendations to strengthen CEPA.

Green Budget Coalition recommendation for Budget 2019 investment in toxics.