Gil Sperling

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Draft Canada Ontario Agreement

September 18, 2021 by gilsperling

The new draft agreement aims to promote action on major challenges for the Great Lakes, such as combating harmful and annoying algae in Lake Erie and cleaning up areas of great lakes concern. It also includes measures to improve wastewater and stormwater management and reduce pollution, including a new focus on pollution from dispersed salts and plastics, as well as ongoing issues such as invasive species and climate resilience. The new draft agreement will also take the next steps to strengthen engagement with First Nations and Métis communities and will place a new focus on fish consumption. This would be the ninth agreement between the two levels of government and measures to address key Great Lakes challenges, such as improving wastewater and stormwater management and reducing pollution, including a new focus on dispersed salt and plastic pollution. This message asks for feedback on a draft new Canada-Ontario agreement proposed jointly by Ontario and Canada. Both governments are committed to involving the Great Lakes Community, including First Nations and Métis, in the development of the new Canada-Ontario Agreement. The current agreement between Canada and Ontario contains separate annexes on science and innovation. Canada and Ontario recognize the important role of science and innovation in supporting the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes. In the proposed new Canada-Ontario Agreement, Canada and Ontario proposed to remove science and innovation as separate annexes and to incorporate science and innovation commitments wherever applicable in the proposed new Canada-Ontario Agreement. Areas of concern: this is the strongest and most responsible aspect of the draft agreement. The approach taken to promote sanitation and the obligation to complete assessment reports is positive and encouraging. The commitments are discrete and measurable, and we strongly encourage governments to design other parts of the agreement with such clarity and specificity. Indigenous Governance: We are disappointed that the DRAFT AOC does not involve Indigenous governance.

Reconciliation requires active recognition of the role of Indigenous government in the Great Lakes -St. Lawrence region. We need to focus on the entire ecosystem and integrate perspectives from northern to southern Ontario, including the values and beliefs of Indigenous peoples. Overall, we are looking for a renewed agreement that sets clear targets, investments, measures and timetables. Decisions on the policy, restoration and protection of the Great Lakes ecosystem — the St. Lawrence River should incorporate the knowledge and expertise of federal, provincial and Indigenous governments. The agreement is renewed every five years, and earlier this summer, the two governments released the draft COA 2020. CELA and Environmental Defence have jointly hosted a webinar that explains the role of COA and describes the strengths and weaknesses of this latest version. . . .

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