Canadian Nurses for Health & the Environment
Infirmieres et Infirmiers pour la Sante et l'Environnement
The CNHE/IISE Executive Board of Directors are dedicated to increasing the awareness of Canadian nurses and the public regarding important environmental health issues that require action. This section introduces some of the critical movements that are happening across our country, that need your support and participation to bring them to fruitation. This page introduces you to these action alert issues.
PLEASE NOTE: CNHE/IISE members will be able to network and become more involved by accessing the evolving in-depth information and action work being done in the Member's Only Community Portal. If you are not currently a member, just click on "Become a Member" in the top navigation bar.
If you are a CNHE/IISE member and are aware of an environmental health action initiative that you think should be featured on this page, email your suggestion by filling out our "Contact Us" form, accessible in the top navigation bar.
Mining and Health: Digging for the Truth
Protect the People and Environment of Canada
One of the oldest industries poses serious risks to the health of Canadians and the environment!
NOTE: CNHE Members can view the recorded Webinar in the Members Portal
The history of mining in Canada is virtually as old as colonial settlement across the nation. Mining was often the reason that settlements formed as colonization occurred. First Peoples in Canada did use minerals for various items but the mining that we know today started when settlers came to the New World. Thus, the issue of mining and health often causes rifts within groups, neighbourhoods, cities, and municipalities. This is especially true in towns and locations where mining is the key industry.
Nurses recognize that a steady income is an important social determinant of health for Canadian families. However we would be remiss if we did not examine the health consequences that families and the environment are exposed to in the name of jobs, the economy, and access to metals and minerals.
Some of the harmful effects of mining on health and the environment include:
Destruction of ecosystems
Air and rain pollution levels due to Sulfuric acid and other contaminants
Ground water contamination
Tailing pond leaks affect lakes, rivers
Speaker of the House blocking emergency debate on the massive Arctic ice melt
Action Alert from Sierra Club Canada
Megan Leslie, NDP MP and Deputy Leader, called for an emergency debate in Parliament on the massive and frightening rapid ice melt in the Arctic this past summer. Megan eloquently pointed out that the Arctic icecap is responsible for moderating the global climate, and without it we’re in a sea of trouble
As climatologist Paul Beckwith from Ottawa U’s Laboratory for Paleoclimatology and Climatology told us last week, in all likelihood, for the first time in at least 3 million years, the icecap will be completely gone by the end of 2015. Paul also told us to “hold on because our weather patterns will be drastically destabilized.”
Jet streams are caused by a combination of the planet's rotation and atmospheric heating by solar radiation, and form near boundaries of adjacent air masses with big differences (differentials) in temperature -- such as the polar region and the warmer air towards the equator.
TAR SANDS, PIPELINES, AND SUPER TANKERS
Protect the People and Environment of Canada
One of the hottest environmental issues in the Canadian and global consciousness this year involves the proposed new Enbridge Northern Gateway project and Kinder Morgan Project. Three key threats are enfolded in this issue:
Tar sand drilling and expansions in Alberta that will elevate the toxic aerial and terrestrial pollution, and increase greenhouse gas emissions;
The installation of long dual pipelines from Alberta to the Kitimat on the northern British Columbia coast, and another from Alberta to Vancouver
The demand for enormous super tankers to carry the new oil from northern British Columbia and from Vancouver in southern BC
ENBRIDGE NORTHERN GATEWAY PROJECT
The Enbridge Northern Gateway 4.5 billion dollar proposal states that they want to pump over half a million barrels a day of unrefined bitumen from the Alberta Tar Sands in Bruderheim, over the Rocky Mountain range, through the wild and pristine expanse of northern British Columbia which includes close to a thousand rivers and lesser waterways, through the Great Spirit Rainforest, to the coastal town of Kitimat. Along the way, several towns and cities would be in harm’s way, including Morinville, Mayerthorpe, Whitecourt, Fox Creek, and Grande Prairie in Alberta and Bear Lake, Tumbler Ridge, Prince George, Fort St James, Vanderhoof, Burns Lake, Houston, Smithers, Terrace, and Kitimat. From there, super tankers would navigate through very dangerous and tight channels along the wild BC coast to carry the toxic sludge to processing plants for refinement. All of the coastal towns and villages would be at risk for potential spills plus disruption of marine life and ecosystems from the tanker noise and waves. The risks of leaking pipelines and marine oil spills are profound. It is not surprising that many Canadian citizens have rallied together to protest this plan, including many First Nations communities from across Canada.
Bill C-311 Climate Change Accountability Act
Canadian Nurses Association's Action Alert on Bill C-311
URGENT RESPONSE: November 24, 2010. As you may know, despite being passed by a majority of the members of the House of Commons, the Senate shocked Canadians on November 16th and defeated Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act. This is the only time in the past 70 years that the appointed Senate has defeated a bill passed by the elected House of Commons without allowing for full consideration or debate.
Bill C-311 is the single piece of environmental legislation passed by the House of Commons since the 2008 election. Its defeat means that Canada is the only industrialized nation without a clear plan to combat greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions - leaving our nation once again to be embarrassed on the world stage at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico.
As you know, the Canadian Nurses Association has been a strong supporter of this legislation and has written to members of parliament (MP) in support of the bill. We ask that you write to your MP to express your disappointment in this bill's defeat at the hands of the unelected Senate, and to send a message that nurses expect the government to set meaningful GHG reduction targets in order to combat climate change and protect the health and safety of Canadians.
Take action now by sending this letter to your MP and the Minister of Environment. It will be copied automatically to the Prime Minister and to opposition party leaders Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe.
If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Chères et chers membres,
Comme vous le savez peut-être, même si le projet de loi C-311, Loi sur la responsabilité en matière de changements climatiques, a été adopté par une majorité des députés à la Chambre des communes, le Sénat a choqué les Canadiens le 16 novembre en le rejetant. C'était la première fois depuis 70 ans que le Sénat - dont les membres sont nommés - rejetait un projet de loi adopté par les membres élus de la Chambre des communes, sans permettre la tenue d'une étude ou d'un débat complets.
Le projet de loi C-311 est la seule mesure législative sur l'environnement que la Chambre des communes ait adoptée depuis l'élection de 2008. Son rejet signifie que le Canada est le seul pays industrialisé à ne pas avoir de plan clair de lutte contre les émissions de gaz à effet de serre (GES), ce qui laisse le pays une fois de plus dans l'embarras sur la scène mondiale au moment où la prochaine Conférence des Nations Unies sur les changements climatiques est sur le point de se tenir à Cancun, au Mexique.
Comme vous le savez, l'Association des infirmières et infirmiers du Canada appuie fermement cette mesure législative et a écrit aux députés pour appuyer le projet de loi. Nous vous demandons de passez à l'action maintenant en envoyant cette lettre à votre député et au ministre de l'Environnement. Elle sera transmise automatiquement au premier ministre et aux chefs des partis de l'opposition Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton et Gilles Duceppe.
Si vous avez des questions, veuillez communiquer avec moi à email@example.com
Senate Vote Kills Canadian Climate Change Bill
BREAKING NEWS NOVEMBER 17, 2010: The Climate Change Accountability Act, Bill C-311, was voted down in the Senate Tuesday, November 16, 2010. The bill (available here in its entirety - click on magnifying glass to left). was put to a vote yesterday and defeated by Conservative Senators, 43- 42. The defeat means that Canada is now one of the few countries in the world that has no federal legislation requiring government action on climate change. What is worse, the country is slated to join climate change talks scheduled in Mexico by the United Nations where over 200 countries will meet to work on an international climate change deal.
"The Climate Change Accountability Act would have set tough but achievable targets," said NDP Deputy Environment Critic, and the bill's sponsor, Bruce Hyer. "This would have gone a long way to ensuring Canada played its part in the fight against climate change."
Bill C-311 passed Third Reading by the House of Commons in a vote on May 5, 2010. It then went to the Senate for final approval. The result is historic, as no House of Commons bill has been defeated at second reading by the Senate since before World War II. The Bill had called for a 25% cut to greenhouse gases below 1990 levels by 2020. The Harper Government has set its target as a 17% cut from 2005 levels by 2020.
Last December, the Prime Minister went to the global climate change conference in Copenhagen and refused to support a deal on emission-reduction targets. Now, with the defeat of Bill C-311, Canada is once again failing to keep pace with the rest of the world by adopting deep, science-based reductions of climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions.
CNHE Members who wish to voice their opinions on this matter can contact the Prime Minister and federal party leaders directly:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper: Harper.S@parl.gc.ca
Federal Party Leaders:
Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada - Michael Ignatieff Ignatieff.M@parl.gc.caLeader of the NDP - Jack Layton Layton.J@parl.gc.ca Leader of the Green Party of Canada - Elizabeth May http://www.elizabethmay.ca/
You can also send letters to your MP:
You can also send comments to members of the Senate directly. A short list of contacts is available by clicking on the file box icon, and a sample letter is available - click on the pencil and pad icon in the action alert box above.
Human Biomonitoring Data
Canadian Health Measures Survey
August 16, 2010 – Statistics Canada, in partnership with Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada has released the long awaited results of its human biomonitoring data collected as part of the first cycle of the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS). The survey, conducted from 2007-2009, involved approximately 5600 Canadians between ages 6 to 79 years from 15 sites around the country. The biomonitoring component of the survey is the first of its kind in Canada.
Biomonitoring is the measurement of a chemical, or products a chemical makes when it breaks down, in the human body (Health Canada, 2010a). In this case, measurements were taken from blood and urine samples provided by survey participants (Health Canada, 2010a). The results of the survey will serve to inform and guide scientists, health professionals and policy analysts in their evaluation of chemical exposure and aid in the development of necessary policies to protect the health of Canadians (Health Canada, 2010a).
To access our full overview, the survey data, and the Health Canada site, click on the icons on the graphic to the left
Controversy over Seismic Tests in Canadian Arctic
Geo-mapping for Energy and Minerals (GEM) Program
August 12, 2010 - On August 8, 2010 a Nunavut judge granted an injunction that blocks a seismic study scheduled for the eastern Canadian arctic, including Lancaster Sound. The sound, located at the eastern entrance of the Northwest Passage, is considered to be one of the richest marine mammal areas in the world and serves as an important migratory route for animals ranging from narwhals and seals to beluga and bowhead whales. In fact, in December 2009, Federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice and Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced a $5 million feasibility study for the planned creation of a National Marine Conservation Area to be led by Parks Canada.
In spring 2010, officials from the Geological Survey of Canada, a division of Natural Resources Canada, announced they were working to gain approval for a summer research expedition called the Eastern Canadian Arctic Seismic Experiment. In collaboration with German colleagues, federal scientists were set to conduct a seismic seabed survey of the area as part of a five year, $100 million northern Geo-mapping for Energy and Minerals (GEM) Program announced in August 2008 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. To access our full overview, and more information about this issue, click on the icons on the graphic to the left