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14th April 2022
Feds to establish Canada water agency; just one of many investments in water resources

Funds put into freshwater action plan

By Dave Johnson Tribune Reporter
Sat., April 9, 2022

Article was updated 4 days ago

The federal government will spend $43.5 million over five years to establish a Canada water agency that will co-ordinate the more than 20 federal groups, departments and agencies that currently help to regulate freshwater in the country.

It will also put in another $8.7 million in ongoing funding.

The funding was announced in the Liberals’ 2022 budget and is just some of the money being put into water resources.

The government is also spending $44.9 million over five years, starting in 2022-23, and $9 million ongoing to Fisheries and Oceans Canada to support the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. The funding will help co-ordinate Canada-U. S. invasive sea lamprey control activities, manage fisheries and conduct scientific research in the Great Lakes.

Environment and Climate Change Canada will receive $19.6 million in 2022-23 to sustain its freshwater action plan. The funding will support cleanup efforts in the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River, Lake Winnipeg, Lake of the Woods, Fraser River, Saint John River, Mackenzie River and Lake Simcoe.

Environment Canada will also receive $25 million over five years to support the Experimental Lakes Area, a natural laboratory compromising more than 50 small lakes and their watersheds, set aside for scientific research in a sparsely populated area of northwestern Ontario.

Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey said it’s his vision to see the Canada water agency become the primary delivery mechanism for the rollout of the overall freshwater action plan.

“I am incredibly happy to see our government take these critical steps toward advancing our Great Lakes-St. Lawrence agenda and I am confident in saying that these budget investments will go a long way toward transforming the work that needs to be done into action.”

Badawey is co-chair of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Task Force formed through the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group, mirroring the work of a similar initiative on the U.S. side of the waterway. It looks at environmental, economic and social issues as they relate to the waterway.

“I have been pushing hard for funding for many components attached to the Great Lakes in this year’s budget and was pleased to see the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the implementation of the freshwater action plan.”

Nearly 20 per cent of the world’s surface freshwater is found in the Great Lakes and is the source of drinking water for more than 51 million people in the United States and Canada.

The Great Lakes directly generate more than 1.5 million jobs and $60 billion in wages annually. The area is home to more than 3,500 plant and animal species, some of which are found nowhere else on Earth.

There are many details to work through on the agency’s creation, but Badawey said he’s moving to put the necessary team of experts in place, including various Indigenous communities and a host of additional stakeholders, including Niagara College, to contribute.

“While the agency will need to fall under Environment and Climate Change Canada, it will need to have a much broader focus — a whole of government approach,” said Badawey in an email.

He said the mandate of the agency has yet to be fully fleshed out.

“While I have my own views on the subject, I would not want to presume to be the only voice in this choir. Having the stakeholders’ expert input is as critical as was the funding.”