Ontario Holds First Great Lakes Guardians' Council Meeting
Today, on World Water Day, Ontario held its first Great Lakes Guardians' Council meeting to discuss, gain input and build consensus on priority actions for protecting the Great Lakes and opportunities for partnerships and funding.
The council was established by the Great Lakes Protection Act to help 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.
Ministers, representatives from First Nations and Métis communities, and experts from across Ontario, including municipalities and conservation authorities, agriculture, industry and science communities, environmental groups and the recreation and tourism sectors, discussed strategies to tackle significant environmental challenges to the Great Lakes, including climate change and algal blooms in Lake Erie.
Work to date was highlighted today through the release of Ontario's Great Lakes Strategy's first progress report. The report highlights key accomplishments and new scientific findings since the release of Ontario's Great Lakes Strategy in 2012.
Maintaining and improving the health of the Great Lakes is fundamental to the province's economy and quality of life, and is part of the government's economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in talent and skills, including helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario's history and investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.
- Ontario is also creating a working group that will include a broad spectrum of partners to help reduce algal blooms in Lake Erie, and contribute to the 40 per cent phosphorus load reduction target established for Lake Erie’s western and central basins. This will help meet commitments under the Great Lakes Protection Act, the Western Basin of Lake Erie Collaborative, the Great Lakes Commission’s Lake Erie Nutrient Targets Joint Action Plan, and other agreements.
- The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region generated $5.8 trillion (USD) in 2014 and supports nearly 47 million jobs, which is almost 30 per cent of the combined Canadian and U.S. workforce.
- The Great Lakes basin is home to nearly 99 per cent of the province’s population, over 95 per cent of the province’s agriculture and food production, 80 per cent of the province’s power generation, 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 the launch of Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy in December 2012, Ontario has invested $47 million into more than 680 local Great Lakes protection projects.
- Since 2007, Ontario has invested more than $140 million into 1,000 local Great Lakes protection projects that have reduced 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.
- Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy first progress report
- Water Quality in Ontario 2014 Report
- Great Lakes and Watersheds
- Ontario Community Environment Fund (accepting applications until March 31)
- Canada-Ontario Great Lakes Agreement
- Guide to eating Ontario fish and how you can combat invasive species
- 12-point plan on blue green algal blooms and Great Lakes Agricultural Stewardship Initiative