We must address environmental racism in Canada: Support Bill C-226

Environmental racism is a widespread problem in Canada, affecting many Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities across the country. These communities are disproportionately exposed to polluting industries and other environmental hazards, and are also frequently excluded from environmental decision-making and the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.  

Right now, there’s a bill before the House of Commons that aims to address this problem and advance environmental justice in Canada – and you can help ensure this bill passes by sending a message to your MP today.

About Bill C-226

Bill C-226, An Act Respecting the Development of a National Strategy to Assess, Prevent and Address Environmental Racism and to Advance Environmental Justice, was introduced as a Private Member’s Bill in February 2022 by Green Party MP Elizabeth May.

This proposed legislation closely resembles a previous bill – Bill C-230 – which was first introduced in 2020 by MP Lenore Zann. Bill C-230 received broad cross-party support and passed Second Reading in the House of Commons, but unfortunately it died on the order paper when Parliament dissolved for the 2021 federal election.

Now, this important legal tool is back on the table, and environmental justice advocates across Canada (including West Coast Environmental Law) are calling for the bill to be fast-tracked and passed as soon as possible – so that Canada can get to work assessing the situation and correcting the wrongs that have disproportionately affected racialized people and their health.

Bill C-226 calls for Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change to “develop a national strategy to promote efforts across Canada to advance environmental justice and to assess, prevent and address environmental racism.” The Bill requires that the strategy be tabled within two years of the Act coming into force, and requires the Minister to report on progress every five years.

According to the Bill, the national strategy must include:

  • a study to examine the link between race, socio-economic status and environmental risk, and to collect information and statistics relating to the location of environmental hazards;
  • measures that can be taken to advance environmental justice and assess, prevent and address environmental racism, such as:
    • possible amendments to federal laws, policies and programs,
    • the involvement of community groups in environmental policy-making,
    • compensation for individuals or communities, and
    • the collection of information and statistics relating to health outcomes in communities located in proximity to environmental hazards.

This legislation alone won’t fix environmental racism in Canada – but it’s an important step on the journey to justice for communities that have suffered as a result of racist policies and decision-making. 

Take action

You can help ensure that Canada takes action to put an end to environmental racism by showing your support for Bill C-226. Please join us in calling on MPs from all parties to support this bill, and ensure it passes without delay.

Use the tool below to send a message to your MP, as well as Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, urging them to pass Bill C-226.

West Coast Environmental Law