Ontario Strengthens Environmental Protections for the Great Lakes
New Legislation Passes to Keep the Great Lakes Clean, Swimmable and Fishable
Today Ontario passed the Great Lakes Protection Act which will strengthen the province's ability to keep the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River clean, as well as to protect and restore the waterways that flow into them.
Passing the Act enables the province to address significant environmental challenges to the Great Lakes, including climate change, harmful pollutants and algal blooms. The Act will also:
- Establish a Great Lakes Guardians' Council to provide a collaborative forum for discussing and gaining input on issues and priorities relating to the Great Lakes.
- Allow the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to set environmental targets and enable communities to address local problems.
- Require the establishment of monitoring programs on a number of water quality indices where needed, as well as regular public reporting.
- Require consideration of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in decisions made about the health of the Great Lakes if offered by First Nations or Métis communities.
- Enshrine Ontario's Great Lakes Strategy, the province's action plan on the Great Lakes, as a living document to be reviewed every six years and reported in the legislature every three years.
Protecting the Great Lakes for future generations supports the government's plan to build Ontario up. The four-part plan includes investing in people's talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario's history, creating a dynamic, innovative environment where business thrives and building a secure retirement savings plan.
- The Great Lakes basin is home to 98 per cent of the province’s population, 95 per cent of the province’s agricultural lands, 80 per cent of the province’s power generation capacity and 75 per cent of the country’s manufacturing sector.
- Ontario has 10,000 kilometres of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence shoreline, the longest freshwater coastline in the world.
- Since 2007, Ontario has invested more than $140 million into 1,000 local Great Lakes protection projects that have dramatically reduced the most harmful pollutants, restored some of the most contaminated areas and engaged hundreds of partners and community groups to protect and restore the health of the Great Lakes.
“Healthy Great Lakes are vital to the success of our province. This act enables us to better protect and restore the Great Lakes, ensure they can withstand the impacts of the changing climate and keep them drinkable, swimmable and fishable for generations to come.”
“A sustainable and healthy future for our water resources requires the commitment, and action on the top priority issues. By establishing targets and timeframes within the Great Lakes Protection Act, Ontario has set the stage to meet their obligations to the long term protection and restoration of the Great Lakes-St Lawrence basin. The continued prosperity of our communities, so inextricably tied to water, will require Provincial leadership along with the commitment of every Ontarian to keep our lakes great.”