Investing in Communities by Protecting Canada’s Freshwater
The Green Budget Coalition recommends that Canada invest in freshwater protection to support shoreline resilience, improve water quality, maintain and restore freshwater fisheries and generate community economic benefits. Canada should expand existing funding programs and speed up project implementation while removing barriers such as match funding. Freshwater projects deliver environmental benefits by preventing nutrient pollution, creating and remediating habitat, remediating contaminated and toxic sites, and controlling invasive species. On-the-ground projects can create 13-17 jobs per million dollars and, based on evidence from the U.S. Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, create a return on investment of 300%.
Specifically, the GBC recommends that Canada align spending and action with the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Collaborative’s Action Plan to protect the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence 2020-2030, with investments of $2.2 billion over ten years. Long term investments are needed to address climate impacts on shoreline resilience, nutrient pollution, bacteriological contamination of beaches and human and environmental exposure to toxic chemicals. New investments for preventing agricultural runoff are needed to address harmful algae blooms in the Great Lakes and Lake Winnipeg. Our recommendation for the initial five-year investment of a ten year action plan will create jobs in natural infrastructure and contribute to long term savings. In Lake Erie, for example, harmful algae could cost Canadians $5.3 billion if left unmitigated.
Additionally, the GBC recommends that Canada enhance funding to address key biodiversity and ecosystem concerns in the St. Lawrence, Great Lakes, and Lake Winnipeg. An investment of $130 million over five years in invasive species prevention and control, fish habitat restoration, and Lake Winnipeg nutrient loading reduction will create local jobs by delivering on the ground projects in Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba.
• $130 million over five years to address key biodiversity and ecosystem concerns for the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence and Lake Winnipeg:
• $70 million in new investments to strengthen aquatic invasive species control through control structure creation or renewal, expanded eradication programs, and research into prevention and control methods. This includes meeting Canada’s treaty obligation to fund the Great Lakes Fishery Commission by increasing funding from $9.5 to $19.4 million. [DFO, GAC]
• $30 million in new investments in fish habitat restoration in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River to benefit commercial and recreational species and species at risk. [DFO]
• $30 million in new investments to reduce nutrient loading from the Red River and South Saskatchewan River Basins to Lake Winnipeg. [ECCC]
• $1.2 billion over five years [ECCC] to implement the recommendations of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Action Plan 2020-2030:
• $200 million in new investments to reduce agricultural runoff that causes harmful algal blooms by using new technologies and conservation measures, targeting areas that contribute the most;
• $574 million in new investments to enhance shoreline resilience via natural infrastructure;
• $343 million in new investments to upgrade treatment and capacity of wastewater treatment plants to eliminate sources of bacteriological contamination; and
• $131 million in new investments to reduce human and environmental exposure to toxics.
See also recommendations for Natural Infrastructure and the Chemicals Management Plan.