On December 1st, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, announced that the Government of Canada will invest $44.84 million for the Great Lakes Protection Initiative, which is part of the $70.5 million of new funding allocated for freshwater protection, in Budget 2017.
Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change said, “Canada believes that sustained action on Great Lakes restoration is key to the health and economic prosperity of citizens in this important region. Working alongside American and Canadian partners, the Government of Canada will continue to promote strong action on both sides of the border—to tackle climate change and protect the shared waters of our Great Lakes.”
New programming will focus on reducing toxic and nuisance algae and strengthening the resilience of Great Lakes coastal wetlands. It will prioritize identifying at risk nearshore waters, which are those most used by Canadians for drinking and recreation. It will target reducing the release of harmful chemicals. And, it will seek to strengthen engagement with Indigenous Peoples and the public in addressing Great Lakes issues.
The Canadian government says the investment will bring about cleaner drinking water, beaches for all to enjoy and waters in which to fish and swim.
A December 1st news release from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) points out that the Great Lakes region represents the third-largest economy in the world, if measured as a country, supplying 51 million jobs or nearly 30 percent of the combined American and Canadian workforce.
The Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding builds on existing Great Lakes programming and will endeavour to further focus efforts of greatest importance including the continued implementation of the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement as well as the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health. The ECCC news release stresses that healthier Great Lakes mean more opportunities for economic growth. The relase adds that Canada is committed to providing strong support for working collaboratively with the Government of Ontario and Indigenous Peoples for Great Lakes Protection and Restoration.
New programming will focus on reducing toxic and nuisance algae and strengthening the resilience of Great Lakes coastal wetlands. It will prioritize identification of at-risk nearshore waters, which are those most used by Canadians for drinking and recreation. Reducing in the the release of harmful chemicals is another priority. The Great Lakes Protection Initiative will also seek to strengthen engagement with Indigenous Peoples and the public in addressing Great Lakes issues.
In a related statement, Tony Maas, Manager of Strategy with Freshwater Future said, “This is a clear signal that the federal government recognizes the importance of a healthy Great Lakes ecosystem to Canada’s future. These investments will be critical to sustaining efforts to address increasingly pressing issues, from harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie and invasive-species control to the cleanup of polluted areas. ”
- One out of four Canadians and one out of ten Americans drink Great Lakes water.
- The Great Lakes contain approximately one fifth of the world’s fresh water supply.