Wolastoq/Saint John River Freshwater Ecosystem Initiative

Starting January 22, 2024, the Wolastoq/Saint John River Freshwater Ecosystem Initiative will be accepting project applications. The deadline to submit a full project application is March 22, 2024. Please contact us by email at aei-iea@ec.gc.ca for more information.


As part of the Federal Freshwater Action Plan, the Government of Canada is taking action to restore and protect freshwater ecosystems of national significance through Freshwater Ecosystem Initiatives. The Wolastoq/Saint John River Freshwater Ecosystem Initiative will provide financial support for eligible projects that will improve the water quality and ecological health of the Wolastoq/Saint John River Watershed.

Call for Applications start date: January 22, 2024

Call for Applications deadline: March 22, 2024


Eligible projects

The Wolastoq/Saint John River Freshwater Ecosystem Initiative will fund projects to be implemented by domestic partners in the Canadian portion (Quebec/New Brunswick) of the Wolastoq/Saint John River watershed that address at least one of the following three program priorities:

  1. Advancing Science and Knowledge: Projects will increase the knowledge and scientific understanding in either of the following two areas of focus:
    • Impacts of Excess Nutrients and Harmful Algal Blooms/Benthic Mats: Projects will increase knowledge to better understand the state of, threats, and pathways of excess nutrients, algal blooms/benthic mats, and their impacts on water quality and ecosystem health. Projects will involve the collection, analysis, and sharing of information to support informed decisions and actions to address these water quality issues.
    • Harmful Pollutants: Projects will increase knowledge to better understand the state of, threats, and pathways of harmful pollutants such as bacteria and contaminants of emerging concern and their impacts on water quality. Projects will involve the collection, analysis, and sharing of information to support informed decisions and actions to address these water quality issues.

Types of projects to be funded include:

  • Assessment of stressors, risks, and baseline environmental conditions related to nutrients and harmful algal blooms/mats.
  • Measurement, monitoring, modeling, or analysis of nutrients and harmful pollutants on:
    • the impacts on ecosystem health.
    • ecosystem changes or trends.
    • multiple stressors and related cumulative effects.
  • Community-based monitoring to supplement existing water quality monitoring data.
  • Development of scientific tools, systems, and innovative technologies.
  • Identification of data and research gaps, sharing of knowledge and information, and/or development of data management strategies.
  • Advancing the understanding of the impacts of climate change on nutrient pathways and loading, and other harmful pollutants.
  1. Nutrient Reduction: Projects will implement actions to reduce nutrient loading and increase public awareness and engagement on water quality protection.

Types of projects to be funded include:

  • Development and testing of innovative tools, technologies, techniques, and demonstration projects that reduce nutrient loading into the river.
  • Implementation of beneficial management practices (BMPs) known to reduce nutrient loading through prevention, reduction, and mitigation of nutrient loading to water bodies.
  • Training, outreach, and/or education to support the implementation of nutrient reduction actions.
  1. Indigenous Knowledge, Capacity Building and Engagement: Projects will support Indigenous-led efforts to increase knowledge of water quality issues and/or build the capacity of Indigenous organizations and communities to address water quality issues.

Types of projects to be funded include:

  • Gathering of Indigenous knowledge and applying Indigenous knowledge systems to inform actions and decision-making related to water quality.
  • Building capacity, outreach, training, and engagement for Indigenous organizations and communities to research and address water quality issues.
  • Data collection, monitoring, and trend analysis related to water quality and impacts of water quality on ecosystem health.
  • Opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations to build relationships and work collaboratively on identifying common priorities and partnerships to address water quality issues.
  • Projects that bring together diverse knowledge systems and perspectives to support actions and decision-making related to water quality issues.

Eligible recipients

Canadian-based organizations are eligible to apply and include:

  • Domestic not-for-profit organizations such as professional associations, non-governmental organizations and groups, charitable and volunteer organizations.
  • Domestic Indigenous governments, organizations, boards, communities, and associations.
  • Domestic coalitions and networks of organizations.
  • Domestic research, academic and educational institutions.
  • Domestic municipal and local governments.

Although business / industry, federal, provincial, and municipal governments are not eligible funding recipients, they are encouraged to partner with applicants on projects.

Eligible project costs

The following project costs are eligible:

  • Human resource costs, including salaries and benefits.
  • Management and professional service costs such as accounting, monitoring, communications, official language translation, audit, and legal fees.
  • Hospitality, travel and venues/conference expenses that are attributed directly to carrying out the project (in accordance with the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Directives on Travel, Hospitality, Conference and Event Expenditures).
  • Costs associated with an Indigenous participation or ceremony.
  • Monetary Honoraria offered to Indigenous Elders and/or Knowledge Keepers related to specific participation activities which may include but not be limited to translation and interpretative costs, leading a traditional opening/closing ceremony and/or prayer, the sharing of traditional knowledge and protocols, (including spiritual advice to individuals), and demonstrating traditional art and other practices.
  • Materials and supplies.
  • Printing, production, and distribution costs.
  • Equipment and capital assets purchase (less than $10,000) or rental.
  • Vehicle rental and operation costs.
  • Contractors required to perform activities related to the project.
  • Costs associated with land securement (e.g. leases, easements, covenants or servitudes).
  • A reasonable share (15% or less) of overhead and/or administrative costs directly attributed to project delivery.

Projects not eligible for funding

The following types of projects are not eligible for funding under the Wolastoq/Saint John River Freshwater Ecosystem Initiative:

  • Monitoring and data collection as stand-alone projects. These projects must be part of an overall trend analysis, or integrated planning process.
  • Projects that have a single issue ‘action’ focus such as stream clean-ups, attending conferences, training, workshops, and meetings.
  • Ocean-based and fish-based ecosystem projects are not eligible.
  • Infrastructure projects are not eligible.

Amount of funding available and matching requirements

Projects are eligible for funding up to a maximum of $250,000 per project. Projects can be single or multi-year in nature but must be completed by March 31, 2027.

The current request for applications is for projects that will begin during the 2024/25 Fiscal Year. Projects that are not funded can be re-submitted through a future call for applications.

At least 30% of the total project funding must be obtained from sources other than the Government of Canada. Employment support programs within Employment and Social Development Canada and programs for Indigenous peoples within Indigenous Services Canada are exempt from this requirement. Other sources of funding may be in the form of cash or in-kind contributions, or a combination of both.

In-kind support may include donations of:

  • Equipment, materials and/or office space.
  • Volunteer time for project activities, coordination or professional services.
  • Expertise from consultants, elders or academics.
  • Any other donated goods or services that contribute to covering the costs of the project.

Geographic location

Projects must take place within the Canadian portion of the Wolastoq / Saint John River Watershed (Quebec or New Brunswick).

Application process

Applications will ONLY be accepted online through the ECCC Grants and Contribution Enterprise Management System (GCEMS).

For application instructions on how to apply, visit:

For technical assistance when using GCEMS:

Selection process

The Wolastoq/Saint John River Freshwater Ecosystem Initiative project funding decisions will be based on a merit-based competitive process. Completed applications will undergo a three-stage review process:

  1. Administrative review by program staff to confirm eligibility (projects considered not eligible will be notified at the end of this stage).
  2. Technical review by subject-matter experts to evaluate scientific and technical feasibility, including methodology.
  3. An Application Review Committee will ensure that program priorities and criteria are considered in the project evaluation and approval process.

Notification and reporting requirements

Upon departmental decisions, all applicants (both successful and unsuccessful) will be notified in writing. If your project application submission is approved, you will be contacted to negotiate a Contribution Agreement, which outlines the terms and conditions of funding. Federal MPs and/or their team may be advised about the approval of a project and may be provided with information provided in the project application, including applicant’s name, project title, project description, project location, funding amounts, and contact information.

Funding is conditional on the successful negotiation of a Contribution Agreement between the applicant and ECCC. We work towards completing this process within 40 working days. Please note that this 40 working day standard for the development of a contribution agreement is a shared responsibility and largely depends on the submission of all required documentation to ECCC in a diligent and timely fashion.

Each Contribution Agreement must include written confirmation of all funding sources, a summary of project design, delivery, progress evaluations, and anticipated results, as well as a budget forecast. All of these components must be accurately completed before the agreement can be signed.

All approved recipients are required to submit reports to ECCC throughout the duration of the project as outlined in the Contribution Agreement. Payments are based on reporting and cannot be made until a report has been submitted, reviewed, and approved by an ECCC project officer.

Once a project has finished, a final report is required. The final payment will not be provided (minimum 10% holdback) until a final report has been submitted, reviewed, and approved by ECCC.

Contact us

If you have questions about the Wolastoq/Saint John River Freshwater Ecosystem Initiative, please email us at: aei-iea@ec.gc.ca

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