Ask government to spend a little to save a lot

On February 5, 2013, the federal government’s environmental watchdog released a report suggesting that Canada has a long way to go to protect our coastal ecosystems and oceans.

The report — by Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Scott Vaughan -- questions why Canada has only protected one per cent of our oceans, and cautions that we won’t meet our commitment to protect 10 per cent of our oceans for decades to come unless we take action now.

Meanwhile, Australia and the United States are well on their way to meeting ocean conservation goals (at 40 and eight per cent respectively)

In short, it’s a lot of talk and little action.

Canada’s 243,000-kilometre coastline provides employment for over 315,000 and contributes more than $26 billion annually to Canada’s economy. It makes good fiscal sense to take care of an asset this big and productive. Unfortunately, we aren’t doing that.

Through successive and consistent funding cuts, the government of Canada is failing to acknowledge the liabilities created from overuse and under-investment in our oceans.

Please tell the federal government that we’ve talked long enough. It’s time to start funding a program to establish marine protected areas and ensure Canada’s oceans are healthy now and into the future.

 

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Right Honourable Stephen Harper – Prime Minister of Canada <pm@pm.gc.ca >
Hon. Peter Kent - Federal Environmental Minister <minister@ec.gc.ca>
Hon. James Flaherty - Federal Finance Minister <jflaherty@fin.gc.ca>
Less talk, more action on Marine Protected Areas.
The Office of the Auditor General of Canada raised criticisms in a February 5 report from the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Scott Vaughan. The chapter on Marine Protected Areas points out that “the recently released Oceans Action Plan did not address all of the barriers to implementing a national oceans strategy, including the need for strong leadership and coordination over the long term, and the need for adequate funding.” In simpler words, too much talk and not enough action. Another respected voice on fiscal management, the Conference Board of Canada, recently placed Canada 15th of 17 similar countries in environmental performance. Clearly, we can do better. Canada’s 243,000-kilometre coastline provides employment for over 315,000 and contributes more than $26 billion annually to the gross domestic product. Healthy oceans provide a critical input to our economy. It makes good fiscal sense to take care of an asset this big and productive. Unfortunately, we aren’t doing that. Through successive and consistent funding cuts, the government of Canada has failed to acknowledge the liabilities created from overuse and under-investment in our oceans. Maybe that’s because the loss isn’t seen during a single fiscal quarter. The deficit in real dollars and environmental health shows up over many years. Considering the increasing risks presented by climate change, and potential impacts of increased shipping, including oil tanker traffic on our Pacific coast, it’s time Canada started including strong budgetary provisions to monitor, manage and protect our oceans. After all, nature traditionally generates Canada’s wealth. I urge you to follow the budget recommendations of the Green Budget Coalition. With major development projects totalling over $650 billion coming on stream in the next 10 years, it would benefit us all if you developed a budget strategy that guarantees the health of our ocean ecosystems. We aren’t asking for much – just basic funding to establish marine protected areas for which we already have national and international commitments.
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