The "Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Collaborative" has called on the Canadian government to implement a proposed $1.6 Billion USD Action Plan to address some of the greatest environmental challenges facing the region over the next ten years.
The Collaborative consists of five partner organisations, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, Stratégies Saint-Laurent, the Council of the Great Lakes Region, and Freshwater Future Canada
The Plan outlines the investment required to address shoreline flooding, replace antiquated wastewater infrastructure, clean up toxic pollutants, agricultural runoff, and contaminated beaches. The group emphasises that the 10-year program should be initiated now as an effective means to kick-start the region’s post-COVID-19 economy.
“For the first time ever, advocates, experts, and indigenous groups from across the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region have spoken with one voice, calling on the Government of Canada for a $2.2 billion ($1.6 Billion USD) investment to protect this massive and remarkable ecosystem where almost 20 million Canadians live and that binds us together by supporting our health and prosperity,” Jean Cinq-Mars co-chair of the Great Lakes-St Lawrence Collaborative and former Commissioner of Sustainable Development of Quebec, said 10 June.
The 2020-2030 Action Plan was developed with input from experts and stakeholders in Quebec and Ontario and implementation would benefit indigenous and non-indigenous coastal communities.
The Plan defines innovative institutional arrangements that would ensure alignment and collaboration among federal, provincial and local authorities and organisations, as follows:
- A cross-departmental federal task force to ensure financing and alignment efforts
- A Great Lakes Saint Lawrence Commission to coordinate federal, provincial, and local implementation of all recommendations
- An indigenous Great Lakes Saint Lawrence organization;
- Implementation teams
- Research and innovation centers and technical assistance teams to build knowledge and capacity throughout the region
- Regular oversight by the Federal Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development.
Gord Miller, co-chair of the Great Lakes St., Lawrence Collaborative and former Environment Commissioner of Ontario identified that the US has already contributed about $2.2 Billion USD to address environmental degradation and stated that “Canada needs to catch up".