LETTER: Environment rights should be in the Constitution

From reader Sandra Hartline

Everyone in Canada has the right to clean air, clean water and safe food.

Unfortunately, the Canadian Environment Protection Act, Canada’s primary law on pollution and toxins, is outdated, and the federal government has now postponed action on this law until after the next federal election.

Independent polling shows that 92 percent of Canadians support environmental rights. Fixing this law has broad public support, and failing to do so puts people’s lives at risk.

Canada relies on a patchwork of air and water policies, which jeopardizes our health and impacts on our taxes. Recent studies show that pollution costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars every year.

At any given time, many Canadians cannot safely drink the water out of the taps in their homes. Studies show that communities that lack access to safe, clean drinking water face significant health risks, including elevated rates of waterborne illnesses, pneumonia, influenza, whooping cough, and other infections

I believe Canada should recognize the right to a healthy environment in its Constitution — something 110 countries already do. Ultimately, the right to a healthy environment should be included in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to ensure consistency in environmental and health protection between provinces and territories and to make it easier to uphold citizens’ rights – regardless of which federal political party is governing.

Sandra Hartline

Nelson

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