Update: For Our Kids intervention in the Ontario youth-led climate lawsuit

Parent intervenors pledge continued support of youth in climate lawsuit appeal

For Our Kids Toronto and For Our Kids national intervened on behalf of parents in the Mathur et. al. youth-led climate lawsuit in 2022, arguing that the Ontario government has a legal responsibility to protect our kids; both their Charter rights and their lives. Unfortunately we recently received news that the case was dismissed at the Ontario Superior Court. 

Natalie Caine, national organizer with For Our Kids: “Though we hoped for a different outcome, the parents of the For Our Kids network will carry our hope forward as intervenors at the Ontario Court of Appeal. We congratulate the youth applicants on the major wins of this ruling. The court has affirmed that Ontario's weak climate target is not in line with science and causes harm. Secondly, that court cases like this one are justiciable, which is a game changer for climate litigation in Canada. As usual, youth are leading the way for climate justice.”

Ecojustice suggests that the decision provides reason for optimism: 

  • [it] includes a damning indictment of the Ontario government’s inadequate and dangerous climate target which puts people in the province on a collision course with the harmful and deadly impacts of climate change.
  • the court found that Ontario’s target falls well short of the scientific consensus of what is needed to tackle climate change…This deprives Ontarians of their Charter protected rights to life and security of the person.
  • the judge affirmed that young people and Indigenous peoples are disproportionately impacted by the harms of climate change.
  • the court also found that this kind of case — which challenges the constitutionality of climate targets and plans — is justiciable, which means it is an appropriate legal question for courts to weigh in on. This has been a significant obstacle for previous Charter-based climate cases in Canada.

More details of the case’s significance can be found in Ecojustice’s press release and media backgrounder

As a network of parents and grandparents, we’re also extremely proud of the inspiring conviction of the plaintiffs who are not deterred and ready to keep fighting: 

Zoe Keary-Matzner, applicant, Toronto, Ont., said:   

“The Judge’s decision, though unfortunate, acknowledged the truth that climate change is an existential threat which will cause severe harm to young and Indigenous people in Ontario. Now that these facts have been acknowledged, we will do whatever it takes until they have been properly addressed.” 

Alex Neufeldt, applicant, Ottawa, Ont., said:  

“In her decision, Justice Vermette found it indisputable that Ontarians have and will experience an increased risk of death and harms to their health because of climate change, and agreed that those harms will be disproportionately felt by young Ontarians. She also found that Ontario’s scientifically inadequate 2030 climate target is contributing to those harms.  

“This proves what we’ve been saying since the beginning of this case: The Ford government is actively causing climate harms that will disproportionately impact my generation and generations to come. We are the ones who will have to suffer through the tomorrow the Ford government’s policies are creating today. That’s why, despite this setback, we’re continuing our fight to hold the Ford government accountable for climate action.” 

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You can also read more about our involvement in the case as intervenors here and here, as well as in this published op-ed

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