Launch of the 2016–2021 program under the Canada-Quebec Agreement on the St. Lawrence 2011–2026

Backgrounder

Context

Since 1988, the governments of Canada and Quebec have been working together to conserve, restore, protect, and enhance the St. Lawrence ecosystem and to participate in the maintenance and recovery of uses of the St. Lawrence. Their efforts have contributed to:

  • reducing pollution
  • protecting human health
  • conserving, restoring, and developing habitats for plants and animals
  • encouraging sustainable navigation practices
  • increasing awareness and understanding of the St. Lawrence
  • raising awareness and promoting community involvement

Four agreements made it possible to coordinate these government actions on the St. Lawrence River, between 1988 and 2010. To continue this work while also adapting to emerging issues facing the St. Lawrence, the governments of Canada and Quebec made a commitment in 2011, with the signing of the Canada-Quebec Agreement on the St. Lawrence 2011–2026, to renew this partnership for a period of 15 years.

This fifth agreement is also called the St. Lawrence Action Plan 2011–2026, and it has close to 20 federal and provincial partner departments. It includes three five-year plans to be renewed in 2016 and 2021. It was drafted jointly by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Quebec Department of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change.

In line with the 2011–2016 program, the 2016–2021 program includes various measures and projects that are implemented to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainability of uses, and the water quality of the St. Lawrence.

Participating departments are the following:

  • Government of Canada
    • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    • Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
    • Parks Canada Agency
    • Public Health Agency of Canada
    • Canadian Space Agency
    • Environment and Climate Change Canada
    • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    • Health Canada
    • Public Safety Canada
    • Public Services and Procurement Canada
    • Transport Canada
  • Government of Quebec
    • Quebec Department of Municipal Affairs and Land Occupancy
    • Quebec Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
    • Quebec Department of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change
    • Quebec Department of Energy and Natural Resources
    • Quebec Department of Forests, Wildlife and Parks
    • Quebec Department of Public Security
    • Quebec Department of Health and Social Services
    • Quebec Department of Tourism
    • Quebec Department of Transport, Sustainable Mobility and Transport Electrification

St. Lawrence Action Plan achievements in 2011–2016

Thanks to the pooled expertise of specialists from many government partners, the 2011–2016 action plan has resulted in 43 joint projects focused on three priority issues: conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use, and water-quality improvement.

Among the 43 major projects carried out between 2011 and 2016 are the following projects:

  • The discovery of juvenile fish species in the deep habitats of the St. Lawrence Channel. This new knowledge acquired about the coexistence of wildlife and vessel traffic will influence future decisions concerning sustainable use of the St. Lawrence River.
  • The addition of a new interactive map on the St. Lawrence Action Plan website. The map provides a view of all protected areas on public and private lands and a continuously updating platform.
  • The creation of a unified mapping of the land use of the St. Lawrence Lowlands.

The St. Lawrence Action Plan includes a funding program, the Community Interaction Program, which supports community-based projects to conserve and enhance the St. Lawrence ecosystem. Between 2011 and 2016, the Community Interaction Program contributed $3.8 million to the implementation of 66 projects, with the involvement of 44 different organizations and their partners, for a total value of nearly $8.5 million invested for the benefit of the St. Lawrence.

In addition to implementing these projects, the St. Lawrence Action Plan has made it possible to expand our knowledge about the St. Lawrence. The State of the St. Lawrence Monitoring Program, launched in 2003, continues to play a leading role by providing information on various indicators related to, among other things, water quality, sediments, and biological resources. The third Overview of the State of the St. Lawrence, published in 2014, provides an account of all of these indicators.

The Numerical Environmental Prediction Program for the St. Lawrence also allows for the pooling of expertise and data from departments and the combining of their numerical prediction models. This program makes it possible to improve predictions and gain a better understanding of the hydrological system and the ecosystem of the St. Lawrence.

The integrated management of the St. Lawrence has been implemented through the gradual establishment, since 2012, of six regional round tables. These regional round tables bring together stakeholders involved in water resources in their area, with the aim of collaboratively identifying the issues of the area and of establishing actions to implement in response to challenges. The Forum on the St. Lawrence, first held in 2015, is an annual meeting of stakeholders involved in the protection and development of the St. Lawrence. The forum is also an important element in the implementation of the integrated management of the St. Lawrence.

The Areas of Prime Concern (ZIP) Program, which promotes co-operation among regional stakeholders and tackles local issues affecting the St. Lawrence, has also continued its work through the activities of the ZIP committees and Stratégies Saint-Laurent.

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