In 2022, CFUW passed a Resolution urging the federal government to enable constitutional recognition that a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is a human right. CFUW recognizes that without a healthy environment, all other human rights are compromised—the preservation of the environment is central to the improvement of the status of women. We also know that environmental degradation and climate change disproportionately impact marginalized people, especially Indigenous peoples, so upholding this right is imperative to prevent the deepening of existing inequalities.
The United Nations General Assembly also passed a Resolution declaring the right to live in a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment a universal human right last year. Canada was among the 161 countries to vote in favour of this Resolution, despite not yet having any federal legislation recognizing this right domestically.
Canada recently took a welcomed first step towards enshrining this right by passing Bill S-5, which amended the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) to recognize that every individual in Canada has a right to a healthy environment as provided under the Act. However, this right remains limited to the scope of CEPA only and comes with no enforcement mechanisms, which weakens it considerably.
Bill C-219, currently in the House of Commons, aims to enshrine the right to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment in the Canadian Bill of Rights, which will expand and strengthen the right to the rest of the scope of federal jurisdiction. It will also provide individuals with a toolbox of accountability mechanisms and powers to ensure their rights are respected.
CFUW is calling upon Clubs and members of the public to engage with their local MPs in support of Bill C-219. You can download a template letter for Club Presidents to send here. As an individual, you can send a letter to your MP using the David Suzuki Foundation’s form—it takes just a minute.