National Strategy Respecting Environmental Racism and Environmental Justice Act

An Act respecting the development of a national strategy to assess, prevent and address environmental racism and to advance environmental justice

Sponsor

Elizabeth May  Green

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Second reading (House), as of April 26, 2022

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-226.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

National Strategy Respecting Environmental Racism and Environmental Justice ActPrivate Members' Business

April 26th, 2022 / 6:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, I too would like to thank the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for sparking the discourse, the controversy and discussion. I would say that we in the Bloc Québécois have taken this very seriously. We discussed it for over an hour. However, we may not agree on everything.

There is no doubt in our minds that the federal government has a responsibility to certain populations in Canada, people who face inequalities in their relationship with the the environment. The state and quality of the environment has had serious repercussions on our lives over the past two years. We know that this is of paramount importance to everyone.

The Bloc Québécois supports the intention expressed in the title and preamble of Bill C-226 when it comes to environmental justice. If Parliament is to pass such a law, we believe that the concept of environmental justice must be the be the main subject and central concept.

The living conditions that some individuals and communities in Canada find themselves in—and I am thinking here of drinking water, for one—are inconceivable and unacceptable in a supposedly wealthy G7 nation.

That is why we think the House is justified in expressing its desire to act against environmental inequality and discrimination, to study these phenomena in greater depth, to understand the mechanisms and to explore possible solutions. That is all fine.

The existence of geographical differences in standard of living and access to a quality environment is a concern. We should worry about the fact that citizens who are immigrants, who belong to visible minority groups and indigenous communities or who are socioeconomically disadvantaged are directly affected by these differences.

That is why the Bloc Québécois supports government action to address environmental inequality affecting all communities. However, we are not convinced that implementing this from coast to coast to coast across the federation is the right approach if we want to protect the rights of all people to health and access to a quality environment.

Any action the Government of Canada takes must take into account the prerogatives of Quebec and the provinces because environmental protection, health and social services are under the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces. The government must therefore acknowledge Quebec's expertise in this area.

In any case, we are convinced that it would be inconsistent to claim to fight for environmental justice at the federal level while failing to advocate for the defence of Quebec's environmental sovereignty.

Some federal infrastructure is not covered by our protection laws. I will talk about a very specific case, that of the Limoilou area, which is next to the Port of Québec. Quebec's environmental laws, which are much more stringent than the federal ones, do not apply there because ports fall under federal jurisdiction. Consequently, everyone living in Limoilou, whether they are immigrants or not, are seeing the quality of their environment and their health deteriorate as a result of dust from ore transshipment. Everyone in the Limoilou neighbourhood is suffering. This is known as a low-income neighbourhood.

Nevertheless, the House rejected the solution proposed by the Bloc Québécois several times by voting against our bill on Quebec's environmental sovereignty. This is in stark contrast to the unanimous will of the National Assembly of Quebec expressed on April 13, 2022, which members will agree is fairly recent, to support the primacy of Quebec's environmental jurisdiction. Members were unanimous in opposing any federal environmental action on Quebec's territory.

In Quebec, the right to live in a healthy environment that respects biodiversity has been included in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms since 2006.

The House of Commons will have an opportunity to follow our lead because Bill S-5, the strengthening environmental protection for a healthier Canada act, is currently being studied in the Senate. It must come back to the House, and we can only agree with introducing this right into Canadian legislation.

Environment-based human rights need to be developed. The best protection against inequality is Quebec's social safety net and the defence of our collective choices.

I remind the House that there is a consensus that socio-economic disparity, limited access to decision-making bodies, and a lack of political power and representation are all at the heart of this quest for environmental justice. When we talk about environmental justice, we are talking about all of this.

The factors I just mentioned cannot be ignored if we want to pursue justice. This is no small feat. We have a lot of work ahead of us.

Quebec has chosen solidarity. Quebec has the best record in North America when ti comes to the distribution of wealth. This can be measured. Pan-Canadian standards and strategies often run counter to our collective choices. There are a number of examples of this in the most recent budget, which we have been debating. The federal governments' interference in social affairs is harmful and does not reflect Quebec's reality.

The Bloc Québécois works and advocates for Quebec to be its own country, a country founded on mutual recognition among indigenous nations, a country in which all citizens, no matter the colour of their skin or where they were born, are equal and entitled to equal enjoyment of the benefits of social and environmental justice.

A good policy is obviously a policy whose measures are characterized by a reasonable degree of flexibility. There are certainly extreme situations, such as unacceptable living conditions, that require an appropriate public response. However, let us remember that good policy is universal. It serves the common good and applies to everyone.

Universal public policies—and I must emphasize this—also dismantle unequal structures and discriminatory practices. Be it in Quebec, France or elsewhere, social policies that have done the most to advance rights, develop the social safety net and eliminate inequality—or, in other words, develop the welfare state—are, as I said, universal policies intended for everyone.

The Bloc Québécois wishes to emphasize its commitment to the principle of universality, which enables all members of society to pursue economic and social well-being.

If we institute new policies based on new rights, such as the right to a clean environment, everyone, without exception, should have them. If the policy is well thought out and the measures implemented have a real impact on these inequalities, those who suffer the most from injustice will receive help and support, or reparation for the harm done, from the government.

If the rights and the eligibility criteria for government protection and support are universal and their principles are applied to everyone, without discrimination, then the policy will eliminate inequalities based on differences.

I want to share some lines from a song by Gilles Vigneault, a great Quebec poet who sang Mon pays, which has been adopted as a Quebec anthem. This song evokes the warmth and universality of the Quebec people.

About my solitary country
I cry out before I am silenced
To everyone on earth
My house is your house
Inside my four walls of ice
I take my time and my space
To prepare the fire, the place
For the people of the horizon
And the people are of my race

The Bloc Québécois believes that these rights, and the policies that stem from them, will have to be universal. Everyone must have them, regardless of their differences.

Then we will have powerful legal tools to address inequities and discrimination, including on the basis of origin, language or cultural background, which are induced by unequal environmental factors such as exposure to pollution or lack of access to clean water or life-sustaining resources.

National Strategy Respecting Environmental Racism and Environmental Justice ActPrivate Members' Business

April 26th, 2022 / 6:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, I, too, would like to acknowledge that we are here today on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin people.

I am honoured to rise this afternoon to speak to Bill C-226. The bill is being sponsored today by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, but it was first introduced in the 43rd Parliament by Lenore Zann, the then member for Cumberland—Colchester. It was quite a visionary bill, because the concept was not talked about at the time. I hope she will be back in the House soon.

In a way, it is indeed a new concept. The member for Saanich—Gulf Islands mentioned that environmental racism has been recognized as a problem for quite a long time in the United States, but it is still a fairly new concept.

I think Bill C-226 comes at a good time for our society, as that society is questioning the very systems it created. When we talk about discrimination and racism, whether it is environmental or otherwise, we recognize that it is not just a matter of personal prejudice, but that it exists, perhaps impersonally, in the very systems that we have built and that reflect a certain way of thinking and of ranking priorities.

This bill makes us think about that idea, which was not really well known until Lenore Zann introduced her bill. I am very grateful that she took the time back then to talk virtually about her bill to the Lac-Saint-Louis youth council, whose members were also unaware of this notion of environmental racism in the context of the concept of environmental justice.

I would like to talk a little bit about what Bill C-226 proposes.

The bill outlines the components that would be included in a national strategy, such as a study that would include an examination of the link between race, socio-economic status and environmental risk. It also sets out a non-exhaustive list of measures that may be taken to advance environmental justice. These measures would assess, prevent and address environmental racism, including possible amendments to federal laws, policies and programs; compensation for individuals or communities; and the collection of information and statistics related to health outcomes in communities located in proximity to environmental hazards.

This is what it is all about at the end of the day. We want to make sure no one's health is compromised and no one's quality of life is compromised because of who they are and which group they happen to be living in proximity to. It is about quality of life and dignity for all peoples, regardless of background.

The bill would require the minister to table a report setting out the national strategy within two years of the bill receiving royal assent, publish that report on the departmental website, and prepare and table a report on the effectiveness of the strategy every five years. The bill aligns with this government's plan to develop an environmental justice strategy and to examine the link between race, socio-economic status and exposure to environmental risk.

We look forward to working with others toward not only getting this bill passed but also supporting its quick passage through the House of Commons. Supporting quick passage through Parliament is important, as the bill comes at a time of heightened awareness of systemic racism and growing concern for environmental justice among Canadians and around the world. It has become increasingly apparent that environmental benefits and harms are not shared equally among different members of society.

Certain groups and communities, namely indigenous and racialized communities and those with lower socio-economic status, often bear a disproportionate share of environmental burdens, such as environmental pollution and degradation. I think it was mentioned by the member for Repentigny that in some cases those who are disadvantaged by a government decision, at whatever level of government, are not necessarily part of racial group per se, but are actually defined by a lower socio-economic status.

I was reading the other day about an area of Montreal called Goose Village. It no longer exists. It was basically wiped off the map around the time of Expo 67. Goose Village was close to Griffintown in Montreal. It was a poor neighbourhood, but the people had their dignity and their properties were well kept. At the time it was felt by the mayor of Montreal, Jean Drapeau, and his administration that this area, which was close to the site for Expo 67, was a bit of an eyesore for those who would be visiting the city for the world's fair. This was before environmental assessments and before the kind of activism that we see today.

It was decided that this area should be razed, and they said it was because of unhealthy conditions and because public health was not good there. What I read is that when they looked at the report from the public health department of Montreal, it said that it was a well-kept community. It was of low socio-economic status, but it was very well kept. People took pride in their homes and their surroundings. Again, this was not racially motivated. It was using the power of government to suppress the rights of a lower socio-economic group.

That led me to think of the construction of the Ville-Marie Expressway in Montreal. It was not built through the highest-income area, and in this case it did displace a racialized community. It displaced a good portion of the African-Canadian community of Little Burgundy. Today, Little Burgundy is not as whole as it used to be. There is an expressway running through it, and it is at bottom of a hill in Montreal, not at the top of a hill.

This is a very historic community. Oscar Peterson came from that community. The Union United Church is in that community. Jackie Robinson, when he played for the Montreal Royals, went to the Union Church. It has a deep history. There is film footage of housing being torn down to build the expressway. It was not an exclusively Black neighbourhood, but it was a poor neighbourhood.

This makes us think that we need an approach to looking at how we make decisions that makes sure we do not have these implicit biases in the kinds of decisions that governments make. Environmental justice is a step forward for our society. It means that we are getting better at recognizing people's interests, dignity and quality of life, regardless of their background, socio-economic status or race, and that decisions need to be proper.

National Strategy Respecting Environmental Racism and Environmental Justice ActPrivate Members' Business

April 26th, 2022 / 6 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

moved that Bill C-226, An Act respecting the development of a national strategy to assess, prevent and address environmental racism and to advance environmental justice, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleagues who are here this evening because this is a very important private member's bill.

I am very honoured to stand here to present Bill C-226 in the first hour of second reading. I want to begin with a very heartfelt meegwetch and a recognition that we stand on the territory of the Algonquin nation. It is their land.

I want to take a moment to describe how we got to where we are today, because it is rare for a private member's bill entering its first hour of second reading to have already had any parliamentary history at all, and this has a lot of parliamentary history.

I will start by saying that this bill received wide support under a different mover in the last Parliament, as Bill C-230. It was moved by the magnificent former member of Parliament for Cumberland—Colchester, Lenore Zann. Lenore was elected as a Liberal member of Parliament here, but she is quite a non-partisan individual. She also served with distinction in the legislature of Nova Scotia as a New Democrat MLA and has carried with her a concern for environmental racism for a long time. She did me the great honour of making this a non-partisan bill, and I am very honoured to have the hon. chair of the environment committee as the seconder of this bill now. We wanted to make this a non-partisan effort from its very inception as Bill C-230.

Bill C-230, with the same title, was an act to address and assess environmental racism and move forward to environmental justice. It received support at second reading and actually got to committee. Amendments were made at the environment committee, and I adopted those amendments in Bill C-226 at first reading. What we have in front of us therefore represents work already done by Parliament.

It is my deep hope and desire that all of us here, regardless of party, will find it in our hearts sometime in the near future to give this bill unanimous consent so that it can skip through stages that were already done and be sent to the other place. It would then become law, and we can start working proactively to advance environmental justice. That is the hope with which I speak to members tonight.

I am grateful for the non-partisan support the bill already has, and members will hear that in the speeches that are coming up. We also know from a question that I put to the Prime Minister in question period that the government's position is to support this bill. We feel optimistic that it will become law, but we would rather it was sooner than later.

I will now turn to the history. This is not a recent issue, and we are late to act. However, before I start on that, I need to dedicate this bill to the memory of a friend of mine: Clotilda Coward Douglas Yakimchuk. She was a magnificent woman and a hero in the community. Her parents came from Barbados in the earlier part of the last century to work in the Sydney steel mill.

Clotilda was a proud Black woman. She was the first community activist with whom I ever worked on the issue of environmental racism. Clotilda Yakimchuk died just about a year ago on April 15, 2021. She died of COVID. She was the first Black person to receive a nursing degree at nursing school in Nova Scotia. She was the first Black woman to be the president of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Nova Scotia. She was aware of and fought against the pollution of the coke ovens of the Sydney steel mill and the steel mill itself, which led to high cancer rates in the community of Whitney Pier. When this bill becomes law, I hope people will remember that it is dedicated to the memory of Clotilda Yakimchuk.

One of the things I know from cleaning up the Sydney tar ponds with Clotilda is that we can recognize as a reality that toxic chemicals do not discriminate. They do not pay attention to the colour of our skin when they lodge in our body, when they pass through placenta to children, when they cause cancer and when they cause birth defects. They do not care about the colour of our skin. However, the public policy that puts indigenous peoples and communities of colour far more frequently at risk of being exposed to toxic chemicals does notice skin colour. It does notice whether we are marginalized or not. It does notice whether we have money or not.

Therefore, this is absolutely the case in this country, with all of the evidence that we have of racism that cannot be denied. I know this bill makes people uncomfortable. Is there racism in Canada? Yes, there is. We just had a report today about the racism that repulses people as new recruits out of our military. Every institution in our country experiences racism. Environmental racism is not something new.

Let me go through some of the history we have of that in this country. I am going to turn to books for a moment. The first book that really focused on this problem was in 1977, by one of Canada's great journalists, Warner Troyer. The book is No Safe Place, and it is the story of the contamination by the Dryden paper mill of the indigenous community at Grassy Narrows. We are still dealing with that mercury contamination.

Another book on the same topic of the mercury contamination of Grassy Narrows is A Poison Stronger than Love: The Destruction of an Ojibwa Community, by Anastasia Shkilnyk. She was one of my constituents and, also in her memory, I bring this bill forward today.

In 2000, actually, I co-authored with Maude Barlow, who was then the national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, the book Frederick Street: Life and death on Canada's Love Canal, dealing with the issue that I mentioned, and I referenced it. That is where Clotilda Yakimchuk and I first became friends. The contamination of the Sydney tar ponds led to the highest cancer rates in Canada. They were in industrial Cape Breton. The place that became the tar ponds was an estuary where the Mi’kmaq community had traditionally had summer fishing camps. The land was stolen, of course, and then became the worst pollution zone in Canada with the pollution from the coke ovens and the steel mill.

In between was a community called Whitney Pier, which was virtually entirely immigrant Canadians, including a lot of people from Ukraine. I mentioned Clotilda's last name was Yakimchuk. Her husband, Dan Yakimchuk, was a steelworker from Ukraine. Whitney Pier is a melting-pot community. It is a fantastic place, but the cancer rates are through the roof. The land was stolen from the Mi’kmaq. They got the contamination too. So did the only Black community in Cape Breton. As Clotilda described it to me, and I recorded it in the book, it was impossible to find housing anywhere but in that community, so the racism was enforced. We did not have Jim Crow laws in Nova Scotia in the 1970s, but we might as well have, because an experienced nurse who was Black, having moved back from Grenada with her children after her first husband passed away, could not get housing anywhere except in the most contaminated neighbourhoods. That is called environmental racism. That is what it is.

Therefore, we have a history here.

Looking at books, the most important, without a doubt, is the 2018 publication of Dr. Ingrid Waldron's book There’s Something In The Water: Environmental Racism in Indigenous & Black Communities. It has changed the conversation in Canada. That was fortified a year later, when Dr. Waldron co-produced the film, with the brilliant Nova Scotia actor Elliot Page. They introduced people to this concept. That is part of the history.

Let us look at where else people have done anything on environmental racism. I have been a bit shocked and perturbed, as has been my friend Lenore Zann, by some of the social media reaction to us tabling this legislation, as if we are kind of weird lefties and we made it up because we just want to make racism a thing. No, this is empirically established. We know this is true.

In 1994, the U.S. government took action because it was clear on the evidence that if people lived in a community of colour or an indigenous community, they were far more likely to be exposed to levels of toxic contamination that imperilled their health and the health of their children, their family, their neighbourhood, their community and also other people who were not of colour but who were marginalized. Therefore, it has to do with a bunch of different issues. If people have power and money and they live in Shaughnessy or in Westmount, nobody opens a toxic waste dump in their backyard. That is the reality. In Canada, as in the U.S., if people are marginalized, without economic power, if they are people of colour or indigenous, they might be much more likely to be exposed to toxic contamination. The U.S. recognized this and, since 1994, the U.S. government, through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has had a program that is well resourced for environmental justice.

What does that justice look like? It looks like putting tools in the hands of marginalized people to fight for their own health, making sure there are resources for epidemiologists, making sure there are resources for toxicologists and making sure that governments spend the money to clean up the mess.

We are late in Canada. The U.S. took action. Again, I ask that members hear me: the U.S. took action 28 years ago. This is not a new issue. We are late, so we need to get this bill passed. We need to see environmental justice being championed in this country with a well-resourced program in environmental justice where we take our blinders off and say, yes, there is a thing called environmental racism. We are not going to water it down and ignore it, because it is still happening. It is happening today when they try to reopen the Pictou mill and reopen the contamination that has so affected the people of Pictou Landing.

By the way, I see the minister of immigration in the room, so I am just going to give a shout-out to him for being the first federal member of Parliament from that area, Central Nova, who was prepared to say that this mill should close because the jobs were not worth the damage that had been done to Boat Harbour, the indigenous community of Pictou Landing and the neighbourhoods in Pictou. For him just to say that was brave. They are still trying to open it again.

It is seen in Kanesatake, where there is still illegal dumping of toxic chemicals in and around that Mohawk community. That should not be allowed. It would not happen in other communities.

We are looking still at Grassy Narrows and Sarnia, at the first nation of Aamjiwnaang. I invite colleagues from any party to go to Sarnia and visit the enclaves surrounded by petrochemical plants, where the Aamjiwnaang First Nation Cemetery is. They are completely surrounded, and the industry just got a two-year extension to clean up the sulphur dioxide from that refinery. That affects settler-culture Canadians too, but in that community those toxic contaminants completely encircle Aamjiwnaang's centre.

Look at the Lubicon, and the oil sands that have contaminated the communities of Lubicon first nation now for long enough that we wrote about it in 2000, in Frederick Street: Life and Death on Canada's Love Canal.

We do not need to look far. We do not need to look back at deep history, but we do need to be honest about the fact that this is a pressing issue and requires action. I am sorry to say this: Liberal colleagues are supporting this bill, so I say it without malice, but it is a terrible shame that the election was called when it was because this bill, having gotten a lot of support, died on the Order Paper, so we are starting again.

I, and my friend Lenore Zann, who is here in Ottawa today as a former member of Parliament and the original sponsor of the bill, would really love to see the bill go to second reading for the second time. We would really love it. I am sure other members of every party in this place would appreciate that we do not need to take it to committee again and study it again. We cannot make the same amendments, because this bill includes the amendments the committee made last time.

Let us do something for environmental justice. Let us stand up and say there is a better way to deal with a right to a healthy environment that we actually do not have in this country. There is a way to make it real to have the right to a healthy environment for every citizen, regardless of the colour of their skin or their economic status. In the case of indigenous peoples, there is the double horror of having their land stolen and then filled with toxic chemicals. This is not something that any parliamentarian should feel comfortable allowing to continue, so I really beg this of all my colleagues, regardless of party.

I understand that this is an especially difficult issue because it is about racism and inequality, and it is a matter of words. I urge everyone to support this private member's bill.

I have, I think, 35 seconds left, so I just want to say again that this bill will be from all of us. This is not Green Party legislation. I mean, I am completely supported by my colleague for Kitchener Centre, but we do not want to own this. Collectively, all of our hands are on this baby. This bill will matter. It matters for environmental justice. It matters for our future. It matters for who we are.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

March 2nd, 2022 / 3:10 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the last Parliament, Lenore Zann, former member for Cumberland—Colchester, introduced a landmark bill, Bill C-230, to develop a federal strategy for environmental racism and a move toward environmental justice.

The environment committee, after widespread support in this place, studied the bill and made amendments. I recently had the honour to reintroduce it as Bill C-226 in order to work toward getting the bill passed.

I ask this: Will parliamentarians in the House work together to ensure passage of this important bill, and will the government support the bill once again?

Royal Recommendation for Bill C-237Points of OrderGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2022 / 5:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bloc Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel, QC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

Yesterday evening, Monday, February 28, the Speaker said:

I would encourage members who would like to make arguments regarding the requirement for a royal recommendation with respect to [Bill] C-237...to do so at an early opportunity.

I am rising on a point of order this evening in relation to that.

I admit that I was surprised by this statement. Royal recommendation is the mechanism by which a private member's bill cannot have any financial implications unless it is recommended by the Crown.

Financial implications refers to both new expenditures and reallocation of funds for other purposes. Bill C-237, which I am introducing, does not do either.

In my view, it is clear that Bill C-237 does not require a royal recommendation and has the potential to be voted on by the House at all stages and implemented, for the following five reasons.

First, it does not require any new spending.

Second, it does not change the transfer amounts, nor does it change the names of the beneficiaries or how the funding is allocated to them.

Third, it does not change the purpose of the transfer. The Canada health transfer will still be dedicated to paying for health care. The same goes for other transfers that are allocated to a province if it has “a program whose objectives are comparable to those of a federal program”.

Fourth, it does not force the executive's hand, which retains the latitude and margin of appreciation required to transfer the funds. That prerogative remains in place. The executive will decide whether the province has a comparable program and will determine whether the province is complying with the conditions in the Canada Health Act.

Finally, precedents are on my side. There have been many bills that have changed the normative framework without any financial implications. I actually found 31 bills that amend the Canada Health Act, and not one required a royal recommendation.

For all these reasons, I believe that Bill C‑237 does not require a royal recommendation.

Let us examine it in detail. Bill C‑237 amends the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act in two ways.

It provides all interested provinces with the opportunity to opt out of a federal program that falls under the legislative authority of the provinces. In that case, the government can pay the province a transfer equivalent to the contribution that it would have received had it not withdrawn. This means that it is an equal amount or a zero sum.

The bill adds that the government will only pay the contribution if the province “has a program whose objectives are comparable to those of a federal program”. In short, the purpose of the transfer does not change either.

This mechanism is quite similar to the one that exists in the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act, for example. If a province has its own program and withdraws from the federal program, it receives the same transfer that it would have received had it not withdrawn.

The transfer is unconditional and goes into the province's consolidated revenue fund, but only if it has a comparable program. It is up to the minister to determine whether it has a comparable program.

Without any conditions on how the province runs the program, the transfer still serves the same purpose, which is to ensure that students can access financial assistance.

This same principle is in Bill C-237, which I introduced. It does not change the amounts or recipients, the distribution of the amounts among them, or the purpose of the transfer. It simply reduces federal control over the management of provincial programs in the provinces' own jurisdictions. Again, this is about provincial management of provincial programs. That is the only thing that is impacted here, and it has little to do with the prerogative of the federal Crown.

Bill C‑237 proposes a second amendment to the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, this one just for Quebec. The federal government has announced that it plans to set conditions applicable to long-term care facilities and retirement homes. I assume that they will be included in the Canada Health Act, since long-term care facilities fall under the definition of “extended health care services” in the act.

Since Quebec was the only one to object, Bill C-231 would exempt Quebec, and only Quebec, from the Canada Health Act, much like the proposal by my colleague from Montcalm to exempt Quebec from the Canadian Multiculturalism Act in his Bill C-226 in the 43rd Parliament, which did not require a royal recommendation.

The Canada Health Act does not have financial implications per se. It sets out a normative framework, five principles for the government to consider in the Canada health transfer, which is provided for in the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act. It is the latter act that has financial implications.

My bill, Bill C‑237, does not change the purpose of the Canada health transfer. It does not change the purpose of the transfer defined in section 24(b) of the fiscal arrangements act as “contributing to providing the best possible health care system for Canadians and to making information about the health care system available to Canadians”. Bill C‑237 does not change this section of the act, which sets out the purpose of the transfer.

Under the Canada Health Act, the government is responsible for determining whether the provinces are in compliance. In Bill C‑237, the government determines whether the province has “a program whose objectives are comparable”. Personally, I would have preferred not to include that clause in Bill C‑237, but I realized that this would have changed the purpose of the transfers and could therefore have required a royal recommendation.

Bill C‑237 has no financial implications in terms of the amounts, their destination, their purpose or the general conditions. Only specific conditions in the Canada Health Act are affected.

Madam Speaker, I hear a lot of noise in the House and I am having a hard time delivering my speech.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

February 16th, 2022 / 6:45 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise tonight to pursue a question I initially asked in question period late last year, on December 2, 2021. The question ended up with the Minister of Fisheries. This topic that I am going to raise again tonight crosses several different departments federally. At its core, it is about environmental racism. It is about the illegal dumping of toxic waste on Mohawk territory. I cannot imagine any non-indigenous or non-Black community allowing it, but we do have an environmental racism problem in this country. I hope my private member's bill, Bill C-226, will be passed soon. It is a non-partisan effort to make sure the federal government adopts a strategy to deal with environmental racism, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has done for decades.

To my specific example, this was part of my question on December 2:

On the Mohawk territories of Kanesatake, there is a toxic waste dump. It has been leaking harmful chemicals, and it also affects the wildlife and the fish. It is not as though the government has not said something about it.

There was a directive delivered to the toxic waste facility from the federal government on November 18, 2020, to call for the toxic waste site to be cleaned up and for the dumping of toxic waste to stop. I asked the government, “Could the minister update us on what is being done to remove the toxic waste facility from Kanesatake?” The answer came from the hon. Minister of Fisheries. I think her answer was sound, but we did not have the details. The minister said that disposing of waste in this manner is dangerous to people, fish habitats and fish, and said, “We will hold any individuals who violate this act to account.” As things progressed, it is clear that the illegal dumping continues.

The Province of Quebec allowed dumping outside the confines of the specific permit that was given in 2015 for a recycling landfill, which is what it was originally licensed for. The Province of Quebec gave that permit to G & R Recycling in 2015 and by 2016 the complaints had begun. They continued as residents nearby smelled toxic and nauseating fumes and became sickened by these fumes. Finally, in September 2020, the Province of Quebec revoked the licence. Again, as evidence of environmental racism, it was not until the black ooze from this toxic waste facility began seeping onto settler culture farms outside of the Mohawk community that the province took action.

The federal government is still looking at this situation and the figures are just astonishing. This facility was licensed for storing up to 27,800 cubic metres of waste and it now has 400,000 cubic metres of waste, or 15 times what it was originally licensed for. This should not be tolerated. The community of Kanesatake is calling out for justice.

Chief and former RCMP investigator, Jeremy Tomlinson, has said that these facilities are being built and people are paying to haul the waste away, but “instead of getting rid of it at a designated site, they’re dumping it here. Think about it, they’re building on land that was stolen from us and dumping on what little land we have left. People have had enough.” I am hoping in the late show we can get to some solutions for this community.

National Strategy Respecting Environmental Racism and Environmental Justice ActRoutine Proceedings

February 2nd, 2022 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-226, An Act respecting the development of a national strategy to assess, prevent and address environmental racism and to advance environmental justice.

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour for me to rise today to introduce this private member's bill. It deals with a critical issue and it is very important to act against environmental racism.

I am very honoured to present this bill, and I want to take a moment to thank the member of Parliament who initially put it forward.

It is appropriate today to bring this bill forward as we begin February and Black History Month. This is a way to confront racism. Part of me thinks it is also appropriate to present it on Groundhog Day, because here we go again.

This bill was initially presented by the wonderful former member of Parliament for Cumberland—Colchester, Lenore Zann. Lenore did me the enormous honour of asking me, a member of Parliament from a different party, to second the bill when it first came forward in this place. The bill enjoyed widespread support, as members will remember. It cleared second reading and went to committee.

A lot of work has been done, and I want to keep this non-partisan. This is a bill that has enjoyed widespread support, and many members of Parliament are very keen to see it pass. I urge all colleagues to reflect on the fact that the United States and the Environmental Protection Agency, for more than three decades, have had active programs to confront environmental racism, while the term is hardly well understood in our country. I look forward to working with colleagues across party lines.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)