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B.C Greens, B.C. United table anti-greenwashing, suicide-prevention bills

Tabled bills face uncertain but likely unsuccessful future with NDP controlling legislative agenda
A private member’s bill is calling for more controls around fossil-fuel related advertisements. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

A bill against greenwashing was among several private member’s bills tabled by politicians from B.C.’s opposition parties this week.

B.C. Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau said her bill would provide controls and standards around advertising the effects of fossil fuels.

“We see these ads all over social, on buses, on billboards,” she said, adding that they do not provide any evidence or context to support their claims.

“We know that banning tobacco advertising (in 1997) was a huge step in public health efforts to reduce the amount of smoking and the harms that come from smoking,” Furstenau said.

She added 34,000 Canadians die every year from fossil fuel emissions, citing research from the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. A 2021 Health Canada study estimates air pollution causes 15,300 premature deaths per year in Canada, including 1,900 British Columbians.

RELATED: B.C. residents, environmental society sue FortisBC for ‘greenwashing’

“It’s time for us take this as seriously (as tobacco advertising) and for government to bring in this legislation,” she said.

Furstenau’s legislation sets standards that companies must meet in order to make climate claims and increases fines for misleading claims. It joins related calls by the federal NDP, and by a group of British Columbians suing FortisBC to improve advertising standards.

Meanwhile, Furstenau’s caucus colleague Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, tabled a bill for the fourth time to address solitary confinement.

“This bill prohibits a person from being held in solitary confinement if they are pregnant, at risk of harm or suicide, have a prescribed disability or require medical observation,” he said.

Solitary confinement “disproportionately” impacts Indigenous people, especially women and girls, Olsen said, adding close to a quarter of people in solitary confinement identify as Indigenous, despite making up six percent of B.C. population.

On any given day, 33 individuals, both adults and youth, find themselves in solitary confinement for longer than 15 days and some longer than 60 days, he added.

RELATED: Private member’s bill by BC Liberal MLA looks to improve suicide prevention

B.C. United’s Elenore Sturko, MLA for Surrey South, also returned to a familiar subject in tabling amendments to the Mental Health Act to prevent suicides.

These amendments would require physicians and nurses to consult close relatives when considering certifying patients under the Mental Health Act. It would also require authorities to inform family members before patients are discharged from designated facilities, and if patients have chosen to withdraw consent for information-sharing.

Sturko had tabled similiar legislation last year, but that bill did not proceed beyond first reading. She expects that her latest bill designed to prevent suicides will suffer the same fate, but hopes that it will nonetheless raise awareness.

The Conservative Party of B.C. did not table any bills this week and has yet to table any bills this session.

Although there are exceptions, private member’s bills introduced by the opposition typically fall by the wayside given they are usually outside the priority list and control of the party in power.

Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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