Canadian Water and Wastewater Association eBulletin

Water Haller: A National Water Strategy?

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Our interest is certainly piqued at the reference to a Canada Water Agency in the Prime Minister’s mandate letters to both the Minister of Environment & Climate Change (Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson) and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau). While we aren’t yet sure what all might fall under that agency, it would seem to be more geared at overall water resources – protection and management. No matter the extent of the agency, it is being hailed as a very positive mood.

We have noted many times that issues concerning "water” easily fall under at least a dozen separate federal ministries, and even more agencies under those ministries. Then we could argue water is influenced by almost every ministry. For some time now, CWWA has called for the federal government to name a "Parliamentary Secretary for Water” – a "water czar” or "point-person” that can have that higher, cross-departmental look at the major water issues and perhaps guide more-cohesive federal policy. Many other water organizations in Canada, like our partners at the Canadian Water Resources Association or at the POLIS Group in Victoria, have been calling for a national water strategy for many more years. 

In my mind, a more-cohesive federal effort can only be a positive thing. At least filtering all the efforts and forcing clear communication between departments and agencies. We still support the basis that water is primarily a provincial jurisdiction that recognizes the vast geography of our country and appreciates that one size does not always fit all. But a unified federal effort that targets source protection in the face of climate change, proper allocation and agricultural use, supply management in drought and flood and our First Nations. Hopefully, the concepts developed here will "flow” over to the Infrastructure and Innovation ministries that perhaps affect our municipal operations more directly. We are already encouraged by the comments of the new Minister of Infrastructure (Hon. Catherine McKenna) and her recognition that the Infrastructure portfolio is the proactive part of the climate change battle.

Other significant items in the mandate letters:

  • Completing the national flood mapping
  • Implementing the ban on single-use plastics (let’s include wipes!)
  • to better protect people and the environment from toxins and other pollution, including by strengthening the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.
  • Take active steps to clean up the Great Lakes, Lake Winnipeg, Lake Simcoe and other large lakes.
  • Implementing the Oceans Protection Plan.
  • Identify and prepare for threats to public security, including national security, cyber security and increasingly frequent climate-related emergencies.
  • to position Canada as a global leader in clean technology, including in critical minerals.

Meanwhile, we are getting a better idea of what the Canada Infrastructure Bank is all about and the new options they can provide in financing – especially in facilitating third party partners.

You WILL hear more about the ministries and new agencies and SO MUCH MORE at the Window on Ottawa/Canadian Water Summit this June 10-12.  Mark it in your calendar now!!