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Wednesday, June 6 is Clean Air Day, the centrepiece of National Environment Week in Canada. CUPE members and all Canadians can do more to clean up our air.

Environmentally, Canada has not had a lot to cheer about in recent years. Stephen Harper’s government has ravaged Canada’s environmental record by, for example, barging full-steam ahead in the most recent federal budget to promote natural resource extraction with little heed for the environmental impacts.

Harper has also turned his back on international climate change negotiations by pulling Canada away from its Kyoto Protocol commitments.

Environmental impact assessments are being cut to fast track oil and gas exploitation in particular.

The list of environmental woes under the current federal government gets longer each day.  

Failure to invest in expanding public transit in Canada is not only making air quality worse and driving greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change higher; it is also worsening our quality of life and hurting the economy.

We could do much better. Canadians can take simple steps to help improve air quality on Clean Air Day and every day. Leaving the car at home and taking public transit is a simple solution.

On a larger scale, the Federal NDP has called for a National Public Transit Strategy to urgently deal with under-funded and out-of-date public transit infrastructure. NDP MP Olivia Chow presented Bill C-305 – An Act to establish a National Public Transit Strategy.

This bill would work to develop our public transit systems to upgrade them for the twenty-first century, thereby improving air quality and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation accounts for roughly 25 per cent of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

This Clean Air Day, CUPE urges members to take two steps:

  • Show your commitment to cleaning the air by taking public transit to work or carpooling, cycling, or walking to work on Wednesday, June 6. Then make it a habit to do this as often as you can.
  • Write to your federal MP and urge them to support a National Public Transit Strategy.