Government austerity threatens environment and the economy - New PSAC video highlights harm to Canada's fisheries

WHITEHORSE, YT, Feb. 24, 2012 /CNW/ - Recent cuts to federal environmental monitoring programs will have a long term negative impact on Canada's environmental sustainability and its economic prosperity, said the Public Service Alliance of Canada.  The Conservative austerity budget in March will only exacerbate the problem and make it difficult for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada to fulfill their mandates.

Twenty years after the collapse of the cod fishery off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, the industry still hasn't recovered and there is now serious concern the sockeye salmon fishery in the Fraser River in British Columbia will go the way of the cod.

"In the face of disappearing fish stocks that are so important to our ecosystem and national economy, the Conservative government has decided to gut public services that monitor, manage and protect our fisheries and the environment," said John Gordon, National President of PSAC.

In August 2011, Environment Canada cut 700 jobs in an effort to balance its budget. Earlier that summer, 50 contract scientists were cut, many of whom worked on climate change research.

In addition, over 400 jobs at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans were affected in December 2011. This will have a direct impact on monitoring fish stocks and managing fish habitat.

DFO workers also process licensing requests for commercial fishermen, sports fishermen and other Canadians who depend on our fisheries for their livelihoods and recreation, key economic drivers in many parts of the country.  The cuts will result in significant delays that will further harm our economy. Government statistics peg the gross value of fisheries output at almost $7 billion in 2006.

"Those who work at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), Environment Canada and other departments play a critical role in managing the sustainability of our fisheries," said Gordon. "The Conservative austerity agenda is weakening the capacity of these departments to fulfill their mandates as stewards of our fish habitats."

PSAC launched another video today as part of its Third Choice campaign to highlight the absurdity of forcing Canadians to choose between strong public services and a strong economy. By weakening the capacity of the federal government to act as stewards of our fish stocks, the Harper cuts harm both.

Watch the video on YouTube or at www.thirdchoice.ca.


Video with caption: "New PSAC video highlights harm to Canada's fisheries ". Video available at: http://youtu.be/jtYdWc5QXvk

SOURCE PSAC

For further information:

Nicholas Galletti, PSAC Communications (in Whitehorse), 613-314-9836 (mobile)
Ariel Troster, PSAC Communications (in Ottawa), 613-292-8363 (mobile)

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