Canada-Ontario agreement on Great Lakes: articles

NOW THEREFORE the Parties have agreed as follows:

ARTICLES

ARTICLE I

Definitions

In this Agreement:

  • (a) "Agreement" means the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health, 2014, including any Annexes;

  • (b) "Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement" means the Great Lakes Water Quality Protocol of 2012 between Canada and the United States;

  • (c) “Chemicals of Concern” means chemicals which Canada and Ontario agree are of concern to human health or the environment in the Great Lakes and should be considered a priority for specific action(s). A Chemical of Concern could be considered for nomination under the Chemicals of Mutual Concern Annex of the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement;

  • (d) “Good Governance” means pursue a decision-making process based on public participation, transparency and accountability;

  • (e) “Great Lakes” means the waters of Lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie and Ontario and the connecting river systems of St. Marys, St. Clair including Lake St. Clair, Detroit, Niagara and St. Lawrence at the international boundary or upstream from the point at which this river becomes the international boundary between Canada and the United States, including all open and nearshore waters;

  • (f) “Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem” means the interacting components of air, land, water and living organisms, including humans, and all of the streams, rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water, including groundwater, that are in the drainage basin of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River at the international boundary or upstream from the point at which this river becomes the international boundary between Canada and the United States;

  • (g) “Great Lakes community” means First Nations and Métis; municipal governments; conservation authorities; non-government organizations; the scientific community; the industrial, agricultural, recreational, tourism and other sectors; and members of the public with an interest in Great Lakes issues;

  • (h) “Harmful Pollutants” are chemicals or pathogens that have an adverse effect on human or ecological health including, but not restricted to, chemicals of concern or substances of emerging concern;

  • (i) “Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy” means the 2012 document that maps out the Province of Ontario’s priorities and plans for action to restore, protect and conserve the Great Lakes.

ARTICLE II

Purpose

  1. The purpose of this Agreement is to restore, protect and conserve Great Lakes water quality and ecosystem health in order to assist in achieving the vision of a healthy, prosperous and sustainable region for present and future generations.

  2. The Parties commit to continuing to work together in a cooperative, coordinated and integrated fashion, with each other and with others around the Great Lakes on a good governance basis, to achieve the vision.

  3. To achieve the vision, the Agreement:
    • (a) establishes principles that will guide the actions of the Parties;

    • (b) describes the development of Annexes to respond to existing or emerging environmental issues;

    • (c) sets in place administrative arrangements for the effective and efficient management of the Agreement;

    • (d) establishes common priorities, goals, results and commitments for the restoration, protection and conservation of the Great Lakes; and

    • (e) establishes a commitment to report on the progress being made in achieving the goals and results of the Agreement, to be aligned with the three-year binational reporting requirements established under the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

  4. By defining a vision for the Great Lakes, specific goals and results, and the commitment to action by the Parties, this Agreement is intended to give momentum to wider efforts and to facilitate collaborative arrangements and collective action among all people and organizations with an interest in the Great Lakes.

  5. Implementation of this Agreement will contribute to meeting Canada's obligations under the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy.

ARTICLE III

Principles

The following principles will guide the actions of the Parties under the Agreement:

  • (a) Accountability - remain accountable to citizens by establishing clear goals, results and commitments for this Agreement and reporting regularly on progress in relation to environmental conditions;

  • (b) Adaptive Management - conduct activities with openness, innovation and a view to continuous improvement to ensure effective and efficient management of the Agreement;

  • (c) Collaboration, Cooperation and Engagement - ensure that the decision-making process provides the Great Lakes community with meaningful opportunities to discuss, advise and participate directly in activities that support the Agreement, and incorporates consideration of opinions and advice from the Great Lakes community;

  • (d) Communication - ensure that effective methods are used to inform the public of the importance of the Great Lakes, the increasingly complex environmental challenges faced by the Great Lakes and ongoing efforts to overcome the challenges, and to encourage collaborative and individual action and stewardship to restore, protect and conserve the Great Lakes;

  • (e) Conservation - promote the conservation and wise use of energy, water and other resources to sustain the physical, chemical and biological integrity of the Great Lakes;

  • (f) Cumulative Effects - consider the combined impacts of individual actions on the environment;

  • (g) First Nations and Métis - their identity, cultures, interests, knowledge and traditional practices will be considered by the Parties in the restoration, protection and conservation of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem;

  • (h) Free Exchange of Information - collect data once, closest to the source, in the most efficient manner possible and share the information with others;

  • (i) Net Gain - design human development and management actions to maximize environmental benefits rather than acting only to minimize environmental costs;

  • (j) Polluter Pays - recognize that the polluter should bear the cost of pollution;

  • (k) Pollution Prevention - use processes, practices, materials, products, substances or energy that avoid or minimize the creation of pollutants and waste and reduce the overall risk to the environment or human health;

  • (l) Precautionary Principle - where there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation;

  • (m) Science-Based Management - provide advice to establish management priorities, policies and programs based on best available science, research and knowledge, including traditional knowledge when available;

  • (n) Sustainability - consider social, economic and environmental demands to balance the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs;

  • (o) Virtual Elimination - adopt the principle of virtual elimination of Chemicals of Concern, as appropriate; and

  • (p) Zero Discharge - apply the philosophy of zero discharge of releases of Chemicals of Concern, as appropriate.

ARTICLE IV

Annexes

  1. The Parties agree to develop and implement Annexes that focus on environmental issues that are a priority for the Parties and will benefit from cooperative and coordinated action.

  2. Through this Agreement, Canada and Ontario provide specific goals, results and commitments to work together and with the Great Lakes community on a good governance basis to restore, protect and conserve water quality and ecosystem health in the Great Lakes. They are addressed in fourteen Annexes, which are grouped under five priorities:

    Protecting Waters

    Improving Wetlands, Beaches and Coastal Areas

    Protecting Habitat and Species

    Enhancing Understanding and Adaptation

    Promoting Innovation and Engaging Communities

  3. Each Annex specifies:
    • (a) goals for the Great Lakes specific to the subject of the Annex, and that, in the opinion of the Parties, are the long-term articulation of what both Parties will strive to achieve;

    • (b) results that the Parties will pursue in order to contribute towards the achievement of the stated goals; and

    • (c) commitments that each of the Parties will deliver jointly or separately for the duration of the Annex in order to contribute to the achievement of the stated goals and results.
  4. Annexes may be developed at any time, and will come into force upon signing by the Parties. The Parties commit to engaging the Great Lakes community on a good governance basis as appropriate when developing or amending Annexes.

ARTICLE V

Administration of the Agreement

Figure 1 - Administration of the Agreement. (See long description below)
Long description of graphic

Committees:  COA Executive Committee, Canada-Ontario Chemicals Management Committee, COA Management Committee, Ad-Hoc Subcommittees.

Priorities:  Protecting Waters, Improving Wetlands, Beaches and Coastal Areas, Protecting Habitat and Species, Enhancing Understanding and Adaptation, Promoting Innovation and Engaging Communities.

Annexes:  Nutrients, Harmful Pollutants, Discharges from Vessels, Areas of Concern, Lakewide Management, Aquatic Invasive Species, Habitat and Species, Groundwater Quality, Climate Change Impacts, Science, Promoting Innovation, Engaging Communities, Engaging First Nations, Engaging Métis.

COA EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

  1. The oversight of the Agreement will be entrusted to the COA Executive Committee. The Committee will consist of Assistant Deputy Ministers, Regional Director Generals or most senior regional representatives from all departments, ministries and agencies of the Parties who are responsible for leading or supporting one or more commitments in any of the Annexes. The Committee will be co-chaired by Environment Canada and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.

  2. Canada will invite the Ontario members of the COA Executive Committee to participate on the Canada-United States Great Lakes Executive Committee pursuant to Article 5 of the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The COA Executive Committee will convene discussions prior to meetings of the binational Great Lakes Executive Committee to review and advise on issues to be raised at the meetings.

  3. Canada will invite Ontario to participate on appropriate Annex-specific subcommittees to the Canada-United States Great Lakes Executive Committee, as required, to assist in the implementation of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement pursuant to Article 5 of that Agreement.

  4. The COA Executive Committee will be responsible for:
    • (a) setting priorities on an annual basis to ensure the achievement of the goals, results and commitments of the Agreement;

    • (b) undertaking annual evaluations and assessments of the Agreement and recommending amendments and/or action to facilitate progress as appropriate;

    • (c) facilitating strategic discussions on issues such as infrastructure, science and innovation between signatory and non-signatory departments, ministries and agencies of the Parties and others to ensure the effective coordination of actions;

    • (d) overseeing periodic strategic assessments of current and emerging issues and addressing the implications to the Agreement;

    • (e) overseeing the development, amendment and implementation of Annexes;

    • (f) reviewing science priorities on an annual basis;

    • (g) overseeing the Great Lakes specific work of the Canada-Ontario Chemicals Management Committee;

    • (h) overseeing the delivery of communications and reporting to the Great Lakes community on progress and activities under the Agreement in a timely manner;

    • (i) ensuring opportunities for engagement and cooperation with the Great Lakes community to facilitate increased collaborative action on Great Lakes priorities;

    • (j) holding roundtable discussions, as appropriate, with invited representatives of relevant domestic Great Lakes bodies or jurisdictions that have an interest in the management of the Great Lakes and representatives of the Great Lakes community, including downstream interests along the St. Lawrence River;

    • (k) developing common positions for representing Canadian interests and engaging in cooperative initiatives with United States agencies and the International Joint Commission; and

    • (l) making every effort to ensure that there are strong linkages and open communications among members of the COA Executive Committee and with other Great Lakes governance bodies that have a role or mandate addressing Great Lakes issues or that could have an impact on the commitments under this Agreement.

COA MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

  1. The implementation of the goals, results and commitments over the five-year work cycle will be entrusted to the COA Management Committee. The Committee will include: a co-chair from Environment Canada and co-chair from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change; the leads of each Annex; and the Chairs of the Canada-Ontario Chemicals Management Committee or their designate.

  2. The COA Management Committee will be responsible for:
    • (a) coordinating and managing the implementation actions of the Parties to ensure effective, efficient and timely implementation and achievement of Agreement goals, results and commitments;

    • (b) seeking opportunities for enhanced cooperation, collaboration and integration of activity between the Parties and the Great Lakes community to achieve the goals, results and commitments of the Agreement;

    • (c) recommending action to the COA Executive Committee when authority or policy direction is required to effectively achieve the goals, results and commitments of the Agreement;

    • (d) monitoring progress against the goals, results, and commitments and presenting it to the COA Executive Committee for review; and

    • (e) convening subcommittees of federal and provincial representatives and the Great Lakes community as appropriate to examine emerging issues and advise on particular activities, projects and events, as required.

ANNEX LEADS

  1. To manage the implementation of each Annex, the Parties will identify federal-provincial leads as needed for:
    • (a) overseeing Annex-specific coordination, cooperation and integration of activities, including the establishment of Annex teams as needed;

    • (b) coordinating implementation of multi-year work plans and undertaking an annual assessment of work plan progress for review and approval by the COA Management Committee. Every effort will be made to ensure a coordinated and cooperative approach by maximizing the integration of activities of contributing departments, ministries, agencies and others;

    • (c) recommending a course of action to the COA Management Committee when more authority or policy direction is required to achieve the goals, results and commitments of the Agreement; and

    • (d) ensuring opportunities for engagement, participation and cooperation with the Great Lakes community as appropriate in the delivery of Annex commitments.

ARTICLE VI

Reporting

The Parties agree to report jointly on progress made under the Agreement in a manner that generally aligns with reporting requirements under the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy.

ARTICLE VII

Resources

The Parties commit to providing the resources needed to implement the Agreement and the Annexes pursuant to it, subject to there being an appropriation for such purposes in Parliament or the Legislature, as the case may be, in the relevant fiscal year. The Parties agree to create opportunities for others to contribute resources, as appropriate, to achieving the Purpose of the Agreement.

ARTICLE VIII

Notification

  1. Prior to undertaking any changes to the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, Canada will consult with Ontario.

  2. Prior to undertaking any activities with the United States that may significantly affect this Agreement, Canada will notify Ontario.

  3. Prior to undertaking any agreement with States of the United States that may significantly affect this Agreement, Ontario will notify Canada.

  4. The Parties agree to continue to cooperate in anticipating, preventing and responding to threats to the Great Lakes. The Parties agree to facilitate the exchange of information using existing mechanisms to provide notice of any proposed activity that could have a significant impact on the waters of the Great Lakes.

ARTICLE IX

Amending the Agreement

The Agreement may be amended by the Parties at any time. The Parties commit to engaging the Great Lakes community, as appropriate, when amending the Agreement. An amendment will be confirmed by an exchange of letters by the Parties setting out the amendment and the date it enters into force.

ARTICLE X

Dispute Avoidance

  1. The Parties are committed to working collaboratively to avoid and resolve any dispute concerning the management of the Agreement and the performance of obligations set out in the Annexes.

  2. The Agreement’s Executive Committee will make all reasonable efforts to resolve any dispute under this Agreement.

  3. In the event that a dispute under the Agreement is not resolved by the Executive Committee, either Party may provide written notice to the other Party of the matter in dispute together with related information and documentation requesting further efforts by the Parties to resolve the matter. In that event, within 60 days of notice, the Parties will meet to discuss the dispute in a cooperative and collaborative manner. If the dispute is not resolved within 60 days of the meeting, or such longer period as the Parties may agree, the Parties may jointly retain a third party to provide mediation in connection with the resolution of the dispute.

ARTICLE XI

Entry Into Force

This Agreement will enter into force on December 18, 2014, and will remain in force for five years, until December 17, 2019. The Agreement may be terminated earlier by either Party giving the other at least six months written notice.

ARTICLE XII

Compliance with Law

  1. Nothing in this Agreement alters the legislative or other authority of the Parties with respect to the exercise of their legislative or other authorities under the Constitution of Canada.

  2. The Parties acknowledge that the obligations in this Agreement are subject to the applicable laws of Canada and Ontario.

 

ORIGINAL SIGNED BY

ON BEHALF OF Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Canada

Minister of the Environment (and Minister Responsible for Parks Canada Agency)
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
Minister of Health
Minister of Natural Resources
Minister of Transport
President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs

ON BEHALF OF Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Ontario

Minister of the Environment and Climate Change
Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry
Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

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