Bill S-5 was introduced on February 9, 2022, to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (“CEPA”). On June 13, 2023, Bill S-5 received Royal Assent. This blog will summarize the amendments made to the bill between its initial introduction and when it received Royal Assent.
For an overview of Bill S-5, Strengthening Environmental Protection for a Healthier Canada Act, please read our Canada Re-Introduces Legislation to Amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 blog.
The right to a healthy environment
- The right to a healthy environment is now subject to reasonable limits, including social, health, scientific and economic factors.
- The framework for implementing the right to a healthy environment must include the principle of intergenerational equity, that is, meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations.
Protections for vulnerable populations and considerations of cumulative effects
- The amendments to the preamble to CEPA now recognize the role of Indigenous knowledge in the decision making process related to the protection of the environment and human health.
- The preamble was also amended to state that Canada’s commitment to implementing UNDRIP expressly includes the right to free, prior and informed consent.
Management of toxic substances
- The environmental registry will remain publicly accessible and searchable but the publishing of notices and other documents under Bill S-5 will be subject to the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.
- A notice requiring a person to implement a pollution prevention plan may specify that the person identify, develop or use safer or more sustainable alternatives.
- If Ministers no longer have reason to suspect a substance is capable of becoming toxic, they will be required to remove it from the list of substances capable of becoming toxic
If you have questions regarding Bill S-5 and its effects, we invite you to contact one of the lawyers in our Environmental practice group.