Save the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

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Dear Catherine McKenna, 

As you know, the Great Lakes are a source of drinking water for 10 million people in Canada and provide support for nearly half of our nations’ industrial capacity. Moreover, the Great Lakes are the largest system of fresh, surface water on earth. As your Ministry has noted, the Great Lakes’ ecosystems and water quality have been severely devastated by pollution and other human activity. Your Ministry has undertaken laudable measures to improve and protect the Great Lakes including support for identified Areas of Concern, enhanced research and monitoring capacity, and leadership and coordination of governance activities.

Restoring and protecting the Great Lakes is a joint responsibility and the United States and Indigenous governments are essential partners. That’s why the federal government updated, in 2012, the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA), the purpose of which is “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem.”

The recent leak from the American federal government indicates that the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)—the federal program designed to accelerate restoration and protection of the Great Lakes—could have its budget cut by 97 percent, from $300 million to $10 million. These cuts would directly threaten the core objectives of the GLWQA. This is of utmost concern for Canada and your Ministry.

The GLWQA has provided to $2.2 billion to 3,000 projects that align with the objectives that the International Joint Commission identified in 2012, including cleaning up Areas of Concern, managing invasive species, reducing nutrient runoff, and restoring habitats to protect endemic species. The proposed cuts to the GLRI would significantly undermine the progress and momentum gained in working towards the GLWQA’s Lake Ecosystem and Substance Objectives.

I thus implore you to make a recommendation on behalf of Canada, through the GLWQA’s International Joint Commission, that the US maintain its commitments through the GLWQA and maintain funding to its core programs like the GLRI. As called for by the Alternative Federal Budget, I also urge your government to allocate $500 million to implement a comprehensive action plan to protect the Great Lakes in the 2017 federal budget. Communities around the Great Lakes need your leadership now more than ever.

 

Photo by Ryan Coleman is licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/rycoleman/2057451182/in/photostream/



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