Toronto, ON – An alliance of environmental groups applauds the Ontario government for taking strong action today to protect the Great Lakes, the source of drinking water for 80 per cent of Ontarians.

Today Ontario’s legislature passed the Great Lakes Protection Act. The Act, which will become law once it receives royal assent, is an important piece of legislation that will help protect and restore watersheds, wetlands, beaches, shorelines and coastal areas of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin.

“Millions of Ontarians depend on the Great Lakes. The lakes are of profound importance to our natural environment, our communities, and our economy,” said Tim Gray, Executive Director of Environmental Defence. “With the passage of this Act, the Great Lakes are finally getting the attention they deserve, and communities will get the tools they need to help ensure these important bodies of water are protected for current and future generations.”

“This Act will allow for targeted efforts at protecting the Great Lakes from some of their most pressing current problems. We are especially pleased with the new strengthened sections that will help protect the lakes from harmful pollutants,” said Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director and Counsel with the Canadian Environmental Law Association.

Three out of four of Ontario’s Great Lakes are in decline, and at least 72 per cent of southern Ontario’s wetlands have already been lost. This is due to increasing stress caused by population growth, loss of green space, the influx of invasive species, and increasing toxic pollutants and climate change. The quality of Great Lakes’ drinking water and the basin’s $4.4 trillion economy are at stake.

“The passage of this urgently needed legislation gives us hope that the provincial government is serious about putting an end to an era of neglect, and is ready to get on with the business of protecting the Great Lakes,” said Pierre Sadik of Ecojustice Canada.

This new Act will require the Ontario government to set science-based targets and develop action plans to address the most severe threats to the Great Lakes, and will empower local groups to develop solutions to protect their community’s water. It also establishes a Great Lakes Guardians Council, a collaborative forum for provincial ministers to discuss priorities, financial measures, and share information.

The environmental groups look forward to working with farmers, communities, and business owners who depend on the lakes as Ontario moves forward to implement the Act.

About the groups:

CANADIAN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW ASSOCIATION works to protect human health and our environment by seeking justice for those harmed by pollution and by working to change policies to prevent such problems in the first place. cela.ca

DUCKS UNLIMITED CANADA (DUC) is the leader in wetland conservation. A registered charity, we partner with government, industry, non-profit organizations and landowners to conserve wetlands that are critical to waterfowl, wildlife and the environment. ducks.ca

ECOJUSTICE is the country’s leading charitable organization dedicated to using the law to defend Canadians’ right to a healthy environment. ecojustice.ca

ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization.  We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all. environmentaldefence.ca

NATURE CANADA is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, we’ve helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and the countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, we represent a network of over 45,000 members & supporters and more than 350 nature organizations in every province across Canada. naturecanada.ca

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For more information or interview requests, please contact:
Jen Mayville, Environmental Defence
416-323-9521 ext. 228; 905-330-0172 (cell); jmayville@environmentaldefence.ca
Dr. Anastasia M. Lintner, Principal, Lintner Law & Advisor to the Great Lakes Protection Act Alliance
647-705-7564; anastasia@lintnerlaw.ca
Pierre Sadik, Ecojustice Canada
613-413-2237 (cell); psadik@ecojustice.ca