[From West Coast Environmental Law: www.wcel.org]
The provinces new Public Health Act, unveiled on Wednesday April 9, has eliminated the publics rights to demand an investigation of threats to their health, says West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL). Its preliminary analysis of the provinces new Public Health Act reveals some positive changes in the legislation. However, it has at the same time the new law has stripped away public input and transparency from the process. West Coast calls on the government to amend the Act to involve the public in addressing threats to public health.
One of the hallmarks of good public law legislation is whether or not the public where possible has opportunities to express their concerns and to be involved in the decision-making. The Public Health Act shuts the public out at every turn, said staff lawyer, Andrew Gage.
In the summer of 2007, aided by West Coast, environmentalists used the Health Act to require the Sunshine Coast Regional District to hold a public investigation into threats posed by logging in the Chapman Creek watershed. said Gage.
The Public Health Act removes the publics ability to demand such an investigation. It has medical health officers doing investigations, when they choose to do them, behind closed doors.
The Public Health Act also creates a new public health planning process which will address the health needs of a community. Gage said: While powers to require comprehensive public health planning is good, the Act does not give the public any chance to review those plans and make their own comments.