Ottawa - The Council of Canadians is calling on the Harper government to prioritize water in the upcoming budget, which will be delivered on March 22 – World Water Day.
The organization is calling for more than $7 billion in spending this year on priorities areas, such as a National Public Water Fund for municipal water and wastewater infrastructure, for clean drinking water in First Nations communities, the cleaning up of Canada’s waterways and Great Lakes, and increased water quality and quantity monitoring.
“It’s time for the federal government to step up their commitment to restoring the Great Lakes,” says Council of Canadians national water campaigner Emma Lui, “The Obama administration had originally proposed $475 million for Great Lakes clean up, even the Republican party supported $225 million for the Restoration Initiative. In the last budget, the Harper Government allocated a mere $8 million to protect the Great Lakes. The federal government needs to increase funding significantly in order to protect the Great Lakes as a commons, public trust and protected bioregion.”
The Council of Canadians chapter on water in the 2011 Alternative Federal Budget highlights these spending priorities:
- $5 billion in 2011-12 to be invested in a National Public Water Fund, municipal water transfers would then reach their yearly target of $4 billion in 2012-13 in order to pay down the infrastructure deficit in 7 years.
- $1 billion to build, upgrade and maintain water and wastewater infrastructure in First Nation communities.
- $1 billion from the existing funding in the Building Canada Fund and Green Infrastructure Fund, plus $3.375 billion in new funding over five years, to clean up polluted lakes and rivers, protect Canada’s waterways from invasive species, and to clean-up the Great Lakes.
- $325 million over three years for the development of an overarching water quality and water quantity monitoring framework to assist provinces and communities, an increase in monitoring stations, and training for staff in water monitoring (including funds for the Global Environmental Monitoring System).
- $150 million over three years to water operator training and certification in the public sector, along with water conservation programs.
- $30 million to an in-depth study on the impact of the tar sands on water.
- $5 million for a labeling program for water-efficient fixtures and appliances.
- $2 million to fund nation-wide environmental assessments on the impacts of hydraulic fracturing.
- funds to complete a comprehensive review on virtual water exports from Canada.
The Council of Canadians will available for comment on the upcoming federal budget and evaluating the Flaherty budget on the basis of these Alternative Federal Budget demands.
The Alternative Federal Budget 2011 can be read here.