The Government of Canada invests in Great Lakes Protection Initiative

News Release

December 1, 2017 – Toronto, Ontario

Canada is committed to providing strong support to working collaboratively with the Government of Ontario and Indigenous Peoples for the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes.

Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, announced that the Government of Canada will invest $44.84 million for the Great Lakes Protection Initiative, which is part of the $70.5 million of new funding allocated for freshwater protection, in Budget 2017.

This investment will tackle issues that matter to the lives of Canadians—from cleaner drinking water, to beaches we can enjoy, to waters in which we can fish and swim.

The Great Lakes region represents the third-largest economy in the world, if measured as a country. It supplies 51 million jobs or nearly 30 percent of the combined American and Canadian workforce. Building on a solid foundation of existing Great Lakes programming, this investment will further focus efforts on issues of greatest importance to Canadians, including the continued implementation of the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement as well as the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health. Healthier Great Lakes mean more opportunities for economic growth.

New programming will focus on reducing toxic and nuisance algae and strengthening the resilience of Great Lakes coastal wetlands. It will prioritize identifying at risk nearshore waters, which are those most used by Canadians for drinking and recreation. It will target reducing the release of harmful chemicals. And, it will seek to strengthen engagement with Indigenous Peoples and the public in addressing Great Lakes issues.

Reaffirming the strong Canada-Ontario partnership in the protection of the Great Lakes, Minister McKenna was joined at today’s announcement by the Parliamentary Assistant to Ontario’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Arthur Potts.

The Minister also convened a round table, moderated by the Council of the Great Lakes Region, to continue ongoing dialogue on the future of the protection of the Great Lakes. Participants included representatives of Indigenous groups, the province of Ontario, municipalities, industry, and environmental non-government organizations.


“Canada believes that sustained action on Great Lakes restoration is key to the health and economic prosperity of citizens in this important region. Working alongside American and Canadian partners, the Government of Canada will continue to promote strong action on both sides of the border—to tackle climate change and protect the shared waters of our Great Lakes.”

– Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“Ontario is proud to collaborate with Canadian, municipal and international government counterparts, First Nations and Métis partners, and others to restore the Great Lakes. Ontario is continuing to protect the Great Lakes to help ensure they are drinkable, swimmable, and fishable for surrounding communities and future generations.”

– Chris Ballard, Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change

“The lakes are critical to Ontario and the binational Great Lakes region. They’re also the centrepiece of a regional, cross-border economy. While there’s much work to do to restore and protect the Great Lakes, the investment that the Government of Canada is making today will allow us to continue on the path of building the most sustainable and prosperous region in the world.”

– Mark Fisher, Chief Executive Officer of the Council of the Great Lakes Region

“These investments will be critical to sustaining efforts to address increasingly pressing issues, from harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie and invasive-species control to the cleanup of polluted areas. This is a clear signal that the federal government recognizes the importance of a healthy Great Lakes ecosystem to Canada’s future.”

– Tony Maas, Manager of Strategy with Freshwater Future

“Today’s Great Lakes federal funding announcement is welcomed by the mayors of communities on the shorelines of the Great Lakes. This funding will support cities and towns in taking action through important on-the-ground projects to reduce phosphorous runoff and naturalize waterfronts.”

– Sandra Cooper, Mayor of Collingwood, Ontario, and Vice-Chair of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative

Quick Facts

  • One out of four Canadians and one out of ten Americans drink Great Lakes water.

  • The Great Lakes contain approximately one fifth of the world’s fresh water supply.

Associated Links


Marie-Pascale Des Rosiers
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll free)

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Twitter page

Environment and Natural Resources in Canada’s Facebook page

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