Canadians have the right to a healthy environment with the passage of new laws

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Changes to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act enshrining the right to a healthy environment have passed into law.

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The federal government has been working on the legislation for several years, and introduced the latest version in the Senate in February.

It also adds a sentence to the act guaranteeing that every Canadian has the right to a healthy environment and makes it a duty of the government to protect that right.

The government now has up to two more years to define how that right will be implemented when it comes to enforcing the act.

Critics have said the law would be stronger if that right were enshrined in the Constitution, but the government is not interested in that change.

The law also updates how toxic substances are assessed and includes a requirement to look for safer alternatives, data on cumulative effects if combined with other substances and whether they can cause cancer over the long term.

The bill has passed in the House of Commons and the Senate and needs royal approval before it is officially on the books.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 13, 2023.

— With files from Mia Rabson

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