A Right to a Healthy Environment under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999

On June 13, 2023, Bill S-5, Strengthening Environmental Protection for a Healthier Canada Act became law. With this Bill, the Government of Canada recognizes that every individual in Canada has a right to a healthy environment as provided under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA). The Government of Canada also has a duty to protect the right to a healthy environment when making decisions under CEPA.

The amendments confirm the Government’s commitment to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which will be implemented in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous Peoples.

Definition of a healthy environment

In CEPA, a healthy environment is defined as being “clean, healthy, and sustainable.”

Next steps

An implementation framework will be developed within two years of Royal Assent of Bill S-5 through robust engagement, with opportunities to continuously improve the framework over time as experience and views evolve. Engagement opportunities will be available to all interested people in Canada, with a particular focus on communities that may face disproportionate environmental and health risks.

Development of the framework

The framework will set out how the right to a healthy environment will be considered when administering CEPA and will elaborate on:

Get involved

On February 8th, 2024, a discussion document was published for public comment and feedback. It sought views on the content, design and potential application of the framework so that the right can be meaningfully considered in the CEPA context. The consultation period ended on April 8th, 2024. The comments received will inform the development of a draft implementation framework, which will be published in Fall 2024 for public comment. 

Funding may be available to support Indigenous organizations and organizations representing populations who are disproportionately impacted from exposure to chemicals or pollution, wishing to participate in the development of the implementation framework. Please contact us at the email address below if you are interested in information on funding for 2024-25. Thank you for your interest.

Related information

Discussion Document on the Implementation Framework for a Right to a Healthy Environment under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA)

Creating a healthy, clean, and sustainable environment for all: Canada consulting on the right to a healthy environment in federal legislation and engaging on environmental justice and racism

Backgrounder: Canada taking next steps on the right to a healthy environment and environmental justice and racism

Contact us

We would love to hear from you!
Right to a Healthy Environment Implementation Framework Team
Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Directorate
Place Vincent Massey
351 Boulevard Saint-Joseph
Gatineau, QC
K1A 0H3
Email: healthyenv-envsain@ec.gc.ca

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