Environmental racism #KAIROSClimateAction

DAY 15 of Climate Action Month: environmental racism

Environmental racism is a type of systematic discrimination that links race and socio-economic status with increased environmental risk. In Canada, Indigenous, Black, and other marginalized communities are far more likely to be the site of high-risk industry activity or a waste dump than a non-racialized one, and certainly not one that is affluent. Racialized communities are also more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, which can exacerbate economic and social inequalities.

In 2020, KAIROS Canada joined the National Anti-Environmental Racism Coalition and the Coalition for Environmental Rights to build awareness of environmental racism in Canada and advocate for positive policy change. 

In the last Parliament, Lenore Zann, who represents the Nova Scotia riding of Cumberland—Colchester, tabled Bill C-230 to give a legislative mandate for the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to develop a national strategy on environmental racism. The bill outlined several actions, including regular examinations of the links between race, socio-economic status, and environmental risk, collection of information and statistics, and improvements in enforcing environmental laws. 

Similarly, Bill C-28, designed to modernize the outdated Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), also died on the order paper in August when the federal election was called.  CEPA was woefully out of date and oddly ill-equipped to protect people from toxic chemicals and pollution. Bill C-28 recognized that every person in Canada has the legal right to a healthy environment and required the government to prepare a framework to implement this right. This legislation also addressed the cumulative impacts of a range of toxic chemicals and harmful pollution and required the federal government to take vulnerable populations into account when making decisions about the regulation of toxic substances. 

KAIROS Canada will urge the new federal government to table legislation which builds on Bills C-230 and C-28.  This is an important first step in tackling indifference and subsequent suffering of racialized and damage to precious ecosystems. 

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Filed in: Ecological Justice

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