Environmental justice

Why are we not talking about it in Quebec?

What is environmental justice?

Some communities bear an inequitable and disproportionate burden of environmental damages and risks because they are underprivileged, racialized and Indigenous. For example, it could be overexposure to the impacts of climate change or to multiple contaminants emitted by polluting industries. What we call environmental justice is bringing these injustices to light, and having a set of measures (tools, strategies and policies) to address them.


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In Montreal, there is less vegetation in neighbourhoods with lower socio-economic populations. Specifically, there are heat islands in 73% of neighbourhoods with the lowest socio-economic standing, compared to just 20% of Montreal neighbourhoods with the highest socio-economic status. The difference in temperature between a heat island (e.g., a parking lot) and a cool island (e.g., a park) can be up to 12°C, which causes much more health risks during heat waves.

The difference in temperature between a heat island and a cool island can be up to 12°C.

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In northern Quebec villages, they do open burning of garbage, emitting toxic contaminants and smoke into the air that could reach inhabited areas. Burning garbage in the open has been recognized as a likely cause of high health risks for exposed populations. This concern was raised repeatedly by Inuit and Naskapi communities during consultations held in 2021 by the commission of inquiry of Quebec’s Bureau of Environmental Public Hearings (BAPE) on the current status and management of final waste in Quebec. BAPE’s commission of inquiry was then of the opinion that the government should make every effort to determine, in consensus with local and regional communities, alternatives to the open burning of garbage.

Communities leading the way

Meet some of the groups who are doing the groundwork to end environmental injustices across Quebec.

Through their activism and community work, they are at the forefront of the movement to shape a more equitable, climate-resilient society.

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Pollution and environmental degradation disproportionately harm vulnerable populations.

Be part of the solution