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The House of Commons Passed Bill S-5, Which Updates the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA)

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30th May 2023, the House of Commons passed Bill S-5, which updates the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) for the first time in 20+ years.

This crucial legislation now returns to the Senate for a final review before it becomes law.

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As Canada’s cornerstone environmental law, CEPA is meant to protect the public from dangerous chemicals and toxic pollution, but it was languishing in the past. Meanwhile, the day-to-day threats to people’s health — for instance, in the form of ‘forever chemicals’ linked to cancer — worsened.

While Bill S-5 is not a cure-all, it does introduce some important changes such as strengthened control of toxic substances. It also recognizes the right to a healthy environment for the first time ever in federal law.

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More than 31,000 Ecojustice supporters lent their voice to this campaign, calling on political leaders and keeping CEPA reform alive — even after the 2021 federal election almost saw it off. This important moment is a testament to all of us.

I want to be honest with you. Life for people in Canada won’t change overnight — nor will Bill S-5 save those already suffering the health impacts of CEPA’s failures.

That’s why Ecojustice is in it for the long-haul. Thanks to the dedication of supporters like you, we’ll continue using the law to secure a safer environment for everyone.

Dr. Elaine MacDonald,
Healthy Communities program director, Ecojustice

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