House of Commons Committee Recommends Significant Changes to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 to address Indigenous Concerns

On June 15, 2017, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development released its study into the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, entitled Healthy Environment, Healthy Canadians, Healthy Economy: Strengthening the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. The report makes a number of recommendations that will be of interest to indigenous communities affected by pollution, such as pollution from industry and polluted drinking water. These include recommendations such as:

  • Recognizing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Recognizing a right to a healthy environment
  • Establishing requirements for indigenous consultation any time the federal government consults with provincial governments about pollution standards
  • Creating legally binding air and water quality standards in consultation with indigenous peoples
  • Broadening the definition of vulnerable populations under the Act
  • Lowering thresholds for bringing environmental protection actions
  • Changing the way new substances are assessed to better capture pollutants of concern to indigenous communities, such as PAHs (Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons)
  • Expanded funding for monitoring of harmful substances

The report is available here.

Read an Ecojustice backgrounder on the report here.

Mark Gustafson of JFK Law assisted the Mikisew Cree First Nation in their submissions to the Standing Committee.