In February, Ontario re-introduced The Great Lakes Protection Act. It’s the third time this Act has been introduced, but this time after years of hard work by several prominent environmental organizations it’s sure to be passed!
This week, Environmental Defence, a founding member of the Great Lakes Protection Act Alliance – a group that has worked for years on three different versions of what is now Bill 66–spoke to the Standing Committee on General Government where the Act is currently being considered.
You can read the entire submission from the Great Lakes Protection Act Alliance here.
There are many reasons why we need this legislation. Millions of people rely on the Great Lakes for drinking water. The Great Lakes are vital to the health of Ontario’s communities and economy. And they are increasingly under threat—in particular Lake Erie.
In the 1970s, Lake Erie was severely threatened – it was considered dead. It took the effort of governments at all levels to successfully revive the lake and significantly improve water quality. Unfortunately, more than three decades later, toxic algal blooms are back on the lake, in addition to a host of new challenges including climate change, invasive species, habitat loss, toxins, and microbeads.
If passed, the Great Lakes Protection Act would help the province to solve these challenges and help ensure that the Great Lakes are drinkable, fishable, and swimmable for current and future generations. The proposed Act includes innovative new tools that empower local groups to develop solutions to protect their community’s water. And it strengthens collaboration with environmental organizations, the scientific community and the industrial, agricultural, recreational and tourism sectors.
There is wide support for the Act across educational, health, faith-based, and environmental groups.
Briefly, here’s what the Alliance and 22 supporting groups had to say about the proposed Act.
In the submission, the groups not only called on the province to pass the Act, but to include amendments to further strengthen it. The amendments would:
- Eliminate the ability of government to excuse anyone from requirements in the act;
- Include more specifics about how the province will respond to climate change and address biodiversity;
- Ensure greater cooperation across provincial ministries by requiring that decisions align with Ontario’s vision for a drinkable, swimmable, and fishable Great Lakes;
- When making decisions, require that government considers the commitments made in agreements with other countries, such as the Ramsar Convention to conserve all wetlands.
Thanks to your support and the support of twenty-two educational, health, faith-based, and environmental organizations we hope to see the recommendations accepted and the Bill passed!
To find out more about our water program and the rest of the work we do at Environmental Defence, sign up for our Water Update e-newsletter, where we will keep you posted about the status of the Act and ways you can help!