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Great Lakes Protection Needs Strong Renewed Canada-Ontario Agreement

The Canada-Ontario Agreement (COA) on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health (versions of which have continued since 1971) is the key agreement that outlines how the governments of Canada and Ontario will cooperate and coordinate on actions to protect and restore waters and wetlands in the Great Lakes - St Lawrence Basin. To be most effective, it needs to be ambitious and provide strong leadership.

The draft of the next COA was released for public comment in early July, earlier than many were expecting. And while it’s no small feat for two governments to work together to produce a new draft agreement on such a short timeline, there is some concern that there isn’t enough public engagement yet.

CELA is committed to ensuring that your voice is heard and included in this important agreement.

We recently co-hosted a webinar with Environmental Defence, to explain exactly why COA is so important, and to solicit feedback to inform submissions during the public comment period. You can learn more about the purpose and content of the new draft COA by listening to the webinar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=512&v=p7q5qb_221M

CELA has also conducted an initial review of the draft agreement. We are encouraged to see that the governments are prioritizing the reduction of plastic pollution, managing the impacts of road salt use, and addressing nutrient loading to Lake Ontario. Their increased commitment on areas of concern is also key to improving ecosystem health. For more detail on our recommendations, see our COA collection on our website.

We would like to see the upcoming COA delve deeper in a number of areas. In particular, we would like to see the agreement include:

  • Ambitious long-term goals, with 5-year results that are measurable
  • A $100 Million per year investment in freshwater protection and restoration
  • Accountability measures and a commitment to transparent reporting on implementation

Now is the time to weigh in and let the provincial and federal governments know that you want ambitious leadership for the Great Lakes. You can make your voice heard by submitting your comments online to the provincial government, and by sending an email to the federal government at ec.grandslacs-greatlakes.ec@canada.ca.