Canada and Ontario announce agreement to improve and protect the Great Lakes



    TORONTO, Aug. 16 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable John Baird, Minister of
the Environment and the Honourable Laurel Broten, Ontario's Minister of the
Environment today announced the official signing of the Canada-Ontario
Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem.
    "The Great Lakes are one of the most important freshwater resources in
the world and it's an essential part of the lives of millions of Canadians who
rely on them for drinking water, recreation and their livelihoods," said
Minister Baird. "Our government is taking another tangible step in support of
a healthier environment with this important commitment to restore and protect
the Great Lakes."
    The Canada-Ontario Agreement focuses on cleaning up 15 severely degraded
ecosystems in the Great Lakes (Areas of Concern), reducing harmful pollutants,
improving water quality, conserving fish and wildlife species and habitats,
lessening the threat of aquatic invasive species and improving land management
practices within the Great Lakes Basin.
    "The Canada-Ontario Agreement is an important part of Ontario's strategy
to ensure that the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem continues to provide clean,
safe water for millions of people," said Ontario Environment Minister Laurel
Broten. "This agreement allows us to work with the Government of Canada and
the Great Lakes community to help protect this priceless resource."
    The Canada-Ontario Agreement also contains new areas of cooperation such
as protecting sources of drinking water, understanding the impacts of climate
change and encouraging sustainable use of land, water and other natural
resources. The Canada Ontario Agreement ensures that scientific information is
available to support remediation and protection efforts and to measure their
success for the benefit of the growing number of Canadians dependent upon the
lakes.
    It will contribute to meeting Canada's obligations under the Canada-U.S.
Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement which is currently under review by both
countries. A new Agreement beyond 2010 would consider the recommendations and
results of that review.
    "I am pleased this agreement supports our ongoing work with our many
partners to protect and restore the health of the Great Lakes," said Ontario
Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay. "It will strengthen our efforts to
meet present and future challenges to the integrity of the Great Lakes, their
watersheds and their ecosystems."
    With the Canada Ontario Agreement now in place, the governments of Canada
and Ontario are initiating a broader dialogue to develop a common direction
and actions to achieve Great Lakes sustainability beyond 2010. This will begin
with the launch of a forum in the fall of 2007. We commit to engaging the
Great Lakes community, including municipalities, Aboriginal communities,
non-governmental organizations, other Great Lakes experts and the interested
public.
    The Agreement may be viewed on-line at: http://www.ec.gc.ca/CEPARegistry/
and http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/publications/6263e.pdf

    
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                                 BACKGROUNDER
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                   The Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting
                       the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem

                   A RENEWED COMMITMENT TO THE GREAT LAKES

    TORONTO - The governments of Canada and Ontario have signed an agreement
to protect the Great Lakes that includes cleaning up 15 Areas of Concern where
the natural environment has been severely degraded, reducing harmful
pollutants, and improving water quality. The Agreement also aims to, conserve
fish and wildlife species and habitats, lessen the threat of aquatic invasive
species and improve land management practices within the Great Lakes Basin.
    The Agreement, which is valid until 2010, contains new areas of
cooperation such as protecting sources of drinking water, understanding the
impacts of climate change and encouraging sustainable use of land, water and
other natural resources.
    It is guided by the vision of a "healthy, prosperous and sustainable Great
Lakes Basin Ecosystem for present and future generations." It comprises
overarching principles and management accountabilities and four annexes that
spell out the specific commitments that Canada and Ontario will deliver.
    Successful implementation will require continued involvement of the Great
Lakes community, including municipalities, conservation authorities,
Aboriginal communities and organizations, non-government organizations,
academic institutions and industrial, agricultural and other business sectors.

    Areas of Concern - Annex 1

    There are 15 Areas of Concern around the Great Lakes Basin where the
natural environment has been severely degraded. The new agreement will focus
on efforts to complete the actions necessary to restore the degraded
ecosystems in four of these Areas of Concern: Nipigon Bay, Jackfish Bay,
Wheatley Harbour and the St. Lawrence River (Cornwall); and on making
significant progress towards recovery in the remaining 11 Areas of Concern.

    Key actions will include:

    - Reducing municipal wastewater and stormwater pollution.
    - Encouraging improved management practices on urban, industrial and
      rural lands that are linked to aquatic habitats and water quality.
    - Developing contaminated sediment management strategies in nine of the
      Areas of Concern.
    - Restoring and protecting fish and wildlife habitats and populations.
    - Fostering community stewardship and participation in restoration
      activities.
    - Increasing knowledge through research, monitoring and reporting.

    Harmful Pollutants - Annex 2

    Work will continue on reducing current, persistent pollutants, such as
PCBs, dioxins, furans and mercury, with the goal of their virtual elimination.
Furthermore, a revised list of substances will be developed as part of a new
initiative to create and initiate a program for the sound management of
chemical substances in the Great Lakes Basin.

    Key actions will include:

    - Creating a list of chemicals requiring action through consultation with
      industry, environmental organizations and other groups, including
      municipalities and conservation authorities.
    - Evaluating strategies for reducing emissions of smog-forming chemicals.
    - Investigating the optimization of existing sewage treatment facilities
      and evaluating the potential of new technologies to assist
      municipalities and other sectors in reducing pollutant releases.
    - Raising awareness among health practitioners of environmentally-related
      illness.
    - Carrying out research on sources, fate and impacts of harmful
      pollutants in the Great Lakes Basin.

    Lake and Basin Sustainability - Annex 3

    Annex 3 focuses attention on stewardship of aquatic resources and
encourages the integration of these practices into our every day activities.
    It includes commitments to promote sustainable lifestyles and uses, reduce
pollutants, restore and protect fish and wildlife species and habitat, address
issues of aquatic invasive species, understand climate change and protect the
Great Lakes as sources of drinking water.

    - Stewardship work with landowners, community groups and non-government
      organizations to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of land,
      water and aquatic resources throughout the Great Lakes Basin.
    - Improving water quality through the virtual elimination of persistent
      bioaccumulative toxic substances and reducing other pollutants.
    - Protecting and rehabilitating habitats, including coastal wetlands and
      Great Lakes Rivers.
    - Protecting and restoring heritage fish species such as Atlantic salmon,
      coaster brook trout, lake sturgeon and American eel.
    - Lessening the threat of aquatic invasive species.
    - Monitoring, researching and reporting on new science about the state of
      the Great Lakes.
    - Applying the new science to understanding the expected impact of
      climate change on Great Lakes waters, ecosystems and benefits.
    - Making progress on collaborative, watershed-based action to protect the
      waters of the Great Lakes Basin as safe, reliable and trusted sources
      of drinking water.

    Monitoring, Research and Information - Annex 4

    This Annex ensures that scientific information is coordinated and
available to support remediation and protection efforts and to measure their
success. The Annex also ensures that information be readily available to the
Great Lakes community.

    (Egalement offert en français)
    




For further information:

For further information: Eric Richer, Press Secretary, Office of the
Minister of the Environment, (819) 997-1441; Environment Canada Media
Relations, (819) 934-8008, 1-888-908-8008; Anne O'Hagan, Office of the Ontario
Minister of the Environment, (416) 325-5809; Mark Rabbior, Ontario Ministry of
the Environment, (416) 314-6666


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