Budget 2016: What’s in store for the Great Lakes?
Posted on: March 23, 2016

Yesterday, the Canadian federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled the 2016 Budget. The Liberal government aims to keep most of its green election platforms, outlined in Chapter 4 of the budget. Entitled ‘Clean Growth Economy’, this section of the budget can be found online here.

Great Lakes interests were included in a few key areas. Ocean and Freshwater Research were promised $197.1 million; commitments to reduce phosphorus in Lake Erie totalled $3.1 million; and $19.5 million will be allocated to the International Joint Commission, which manages transboundary water issues.

Pulled from the Chapter, see these verbatim commitments:

“Investing in Ocean and Freshwater Research

Oceans and waterways are vital to Canada’s economy. They connect us with global markets and are a resource for coastal and Indigenous communities. Scientific evidence is the foundation on which the Government develops policies around the management and protection of the oceans, coasts, waterways and fisheries to ensure that they are healthy, sustainable and profitable for future generations.

Budget 2016 proposes to provide $197.1 million over five years, starting in 2016–17, to Fisheries and Oceans Canada to increase ocean and freshwater science, monitoring and research activities and to provide support for the Experimental Lakes Area in Northwestern Ontario. Funding will support new and expanded research activities that will promote the health of fish stocks and sustainable aquaculture, enable more comprehensive monitoring of the impacts of aquatic pollution, and enhance our knowledge of freshwater ecosystems.

Improving Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health

Millions of Canadians live and work along the shores of the Great Lakes. Protecting water quality and ecosystem health in the Great Lakes is vital to ensuring that Canadians can continue to depend on this rich ecosystem for their drinking water, for recreation and for jobs.

To date, phosphorus levels in Lake Erie have been measured and reduction targets have been established. To help preserve the Great Lakes as a valuable resource, Budget 2016 proposes to provide $3.1 million in 2016–17 to Environment and Climate Change Canada to continue to improve nearshore water and ecosystem health by reducing phosphorus and the resulting algae in Lake Erie. With these resources, the focus will shift from setting phosphorus targets to achieving them, including developing a domestic action plan, and monitoring and reporting on progress. Lessons learned from phosphorus reduction in Lake Erie could be applied to the other Great Lakes.

Managing Transboundary Water Issues

Canada and the United States share 20 per cent of the world’s freshwater in the Great Lakes alone, and jointly manage countless other lakes and rivers. The International Joint Commission is the binational body that manages these Canada-U.S. transboundary waters. These waters are of great economic, environmental and symbolic value to Canadians, and how we manage them is of utmost importance. In recent years, flooding, variable water levels and water quality have affected four important water basins that straddle the Canada-U.S. border—the Upper Great Lakes, Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River, Lake of the Woods and the Souris River.

Budget 2016 proposes to provide up to $19.5 million over five years, starting in 2016–17, to the International Joint Commission to enable Canada to match U.S. funding to study these issues in order to protect the local environment and communities.”

Other highlights include:

  • huge funding for accelerated clean energy tech development, implementation, and use;
  • infrastructure for electric vehicles and alternative-fueled modes of transport;
  • tax support for clean energy initiatives; research investment for clean, sustainable tech;
  • developing cleaner oil & gas tech;
  • reducing greenhouse gases, reduce air pollution; and improving air quality;
  • seeking cleaner public transportation options;
  • energy efficient and renewable energy development;
  • developing new national parks and providing free access to existing ones in 2017 for 150th anniversary;
  • support for the environmental assessment agency moving forward.

The Budget 2016 homepage, which links to all Liberal commitments, can be found here.

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