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Canada and Ontario Continue Work to Protect Great Lakes

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Canada and Ontario Continue Work to Protect Great Lakes

Canada-Ontario Agreement On The Great Lakes Extended to March 2011

Ottawa, Ontario - March 31, 2010 -- The 2007 Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem (COA) has been extended to March 31, 2011. The agreement, signed in June 2007, was set to expire on March 31, 2010.

The COA establishes an action plan and clear roles and responsibilities between federal and provincial ministries, and helps Canada to meet its commitments under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. This one-year extension allows Canada and Ontario to continue their important work to protect and restore the Great Lakes while the governments of Canada and the U.S. negotiate amendments to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

Efforts in the next year will continue to focus on all aspects of COA including protecting and restoring habitat, preventing pollution, cleaning up environmental hotspots, and working with partners to advance goals and objectives for lakewide sustainability. Four important lake specific projects for the year ahead are:

  • Preventing invasive species from entering Lake Superior
  • Dealing with algal blooms that foul Lake Huron beaches
  • Controlling nutrients from urban and rural sources around Lake Erie
  • Protecting the biodiversity of significant Lake Ontario shorelines and watersheds.

Once amendments are negotiated to the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, Canada and Ontario will have the foundation for future discussions on priorities for a new Canada-Ontario Agreement.

The Great Lakes are the largest system of fresh surface water on earth, containing roughly 18 per cent of the world's fresh surface water. They are home to millions of people, and are fundamental to the well-being of one-third of the population of Canada and one-tenth of the population of the United States. Eighty-seven per cent of Ontarians live within the watersheds of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, and more than 70 per cent of Ontarians get their drinking water directly from the lakes. The Great Lakes support 25 per cent of Canada's agricultural capacity and fishing and shipping in the lakes inject more than $7-billion annually into Ontario's economy.  The Great Lakes Basin ecosystem is home to more than 3,500 species of plants and animals, some of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

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“The Great Lakes are a crucial resource, fundamental to Canadians' health and well-being, our environment and our economy. With our partners, the Government of Canada is committed to re-establishing healthy ecosystems across the Great Lakes Basin and is proud to have announced $16 million over two years in the recent budget to continue protecting and restoring these magnificent inland seas.”

Jim Prentice

Environment Minister

“The Great Lakes are vital to our way of life, and our economy. Ontario is committed to continuing its long-term efforts working with Canada and other partners in restoring and protecting the Great Lakes. Adapting to the long-term effects of climate change on the Great Lakes is an important part of that work.”

John Gerretsen

Ontario's Minister of the Environment

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