Canada Needs an Environmental Racism Bill

Canada needs a law to Combat Environmental Racism and Bill C-230 is our best option

Bill C-230, if approved, will develop a National Strategy to Redress Environmental Racism.

Timeline: The bill is scheduled to be debated on March 23 in the House of Commons

Bill C-230 asks the federal government to develop a strategy to address environmental racism in Canada that would include measures to:
1) examine how race and socio-economic status expose Black and other racialized communities to contamination and pollution;
2) collect statistical data on the location of environmentally dangerous projects;
3) collect information and statistics on health outcomes associated with pollution and contamination in Black and other racialized communities;
4) assess the extent to which environmental laws are being administered and enforced in each province; and
5) address how federal laws, policies and programs are being amended to address environmental racism.

We have written this draft letter that we encourage you to send to your MP (Pro-tip: Try to personalize the subject line and the first few lines!)

Support for Bill C-230: National Strategy to Redress Environmental Racism Act 

I’m writing to ask you to urgently support, and encourage all MPs to support, this private member’s bill brought forward by MP Lenore Zann (Cumberland-Colchester). Canada is one of very few countries that does not recognize a healthy environment as a human right, and we have no legislation addressing the very real impacts of environmental racism. 

As one of your constituents, and as a parent, I’m outraged. It’s become very clear that regulations, policies and practices across sectors and regions either overlook or directly cause disproportionate harm for individuals and communities based on race or colour. This is the definition of environmental racism, and it contradicts everything I am trying to teach my children. A healthy environment is a right and responsibility for all, regardless of our race, colour, or socioeconomic situation.

Environmental racism in Canada is real and easy to see if we open our eyes:
• Polluting industries and other environmentally hazardous projects are disproportionately located near Black, Indigenous and marginalized communities (as recently examined in the book and documentary “Something’s in the Water” 
• Northern Inuit communities are threatened by climate change, with temperatures rising more rapidly than in the rest of the country
• Workplaces dominated by racialized workers are exposed to higher levels of toxic chemicals

These are all examples of environmental racism – there are many more - and they don’t reflect the better world I’m working hard every day to build for my kids. Bill C-230 is an overdue and desperately-needed attempt to tackle environmental racism. I urge you to support this Bill and build environmental justice into our federal laws, policies and programs.



Here are some additional info you can include in your letter:

Did you know that the impacts of environmental racism are STIlL occurring in Canada? This is not something that occurred long ago in Canada’s history. Only 60 yrs ago, during 1960s Africville in Nova Scotia was “renewed” with several environmental and social hazards, including a fertilizer plant, tar factory, stone and coal crushing plant and an open dump.  And in only 2006, the health affects of an open landfill in Lincolnville NS were still rampant (where an EAC found concerns), and yet it became the location for a SECOND landfilll.

The cumulative air pollution burden in Canada’s three major cities (Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal) disproportionately affects racialized communities. In Montreal, immigrant residents consistently experience higher cumulative air pollution, while in Toronto, this burden falls on low-income residents. In Vancouver, it’s Indigenous residents. These disparities in exposure to air pollution are just one dimension of the generalized pattern of environmental injustice affecting historically marginalized groups: Indigenous Peoples, racialized newcomers and the urban poor.  From the National Observer Op-Ed.

Not sure who your MP is? Look them up here with your postal code 

We believe like Dr. Ingrid Waldron, that your postal code shouldn’t determine your health. 

What to educate yourself further?

You can read Dr. Waldron's Book: There's something in the water. Or watch the documentary. It was what originally inspired the Private Member Bill. 
Or listen to this CBC episode of What on Earth that looks at Why Climate Action must also take racial justice into account 

You can read the full bill here

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