Funding for restoring Great Lakes areas of concern

The application submission period for funding under the Great Lakes Protection Initiative is now closed. Please contact us by email at for more information.

The Great Lakes Protection Initiative

The goal of the Great Lakes Protection Initiative (GLPI) is to target the most significant environmental challenges affecting Great Lakes water quality and ecosystem health by delivering on Canada’s commitments under the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA). The Initiative focuses on eight priority areas for action:

  • working with others to protect the Great Lakes
  • restoring Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOCs)
  • preventing toxic and nuisance algae
  • assessing and enhancing the resilience of Great Lakes coastal wetlands
  • evaluating and identifying at risk nearshore waters
  • reducing releases of harmful chemicals
  • engaging Indigenous Peoples in addressing Great Lakes issues
  • increasing public engagement through citizen science

To assist in achieving this goal, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) supports action by others to:

  • restore AOCs: Supporting action at the local level to restore water quality and aquatic ecosystem health by implementing projects identified in AOC Remedial Action Plans (RAPs)
  • prevent toxic and nuisance algae: Increasing participation in the application of phosphorus load reduction measures by demonstrating innovative approaches and best practices and promoting broad uptake and application
  • reduce releases of harmful chemicals: Increasing participation in the application of beyond-compliance measures to reduce releases of chemicals of mutual concern by developing, implementing, assessing and promoting use of innovative approaches
  • engage Indigenous Peoples in addressing Great Lakes issues: Enhancing Indigenous capacity to address Great Lakes issues through projects that engage Indigenous peoples at the community level
  • increase public engagement through citizen science:  Enhancing Canadians’ knowledge of and engagement in addressing Great Lakes issues through participation in citizen science

Context: restoring Areas of Concern

Areas of Concern (AOCs) are specific locations designated by Canada and the U.S. under the 1987 GLWQA where water quality and ecosystem health have been severely degraded by human activity at the local level resulting in a range of issues (e.g. beach closures, loss of habitat for fish and wildlife, negative effects on fish and wildlife populations, restrictions on fish consumption, effects on drinking water). Restoring AOCs contributes to the improvement of Great Lakes water quality and ecosystem health as well as the environmental, economic and social wellbeing of local communities in the basin.


An objective of the GLPI is to restore the water quality and aquatic ecosystem health of Canadian Great Lakes AOCs. To assist in achieving this objective, ECCC is making funding available to support action at the local level to restore water quality and aquatic ecosystem health by completing actions identified in AOC Remedial Action Plans (RAPs).

The purpose of the 2023-2024 Call for Proposals is to solicit project proposals that implement actions identified in the AOCs’ most current RAPs, and contribute to the restoration of beneficial uses and the eventual delisting of the AOCs. Proposals must clearly demonstrate how the project will contribute to these goals. 

Eligible recipients

Applicants may include:

  • conservation authorities
  • Indigenous communities or their governments
  • Indigenous organizations or associations
  • municipalities
  • non-governmental organizations
  • not for profit and for profit organizations
  • research, academic and educational institutions

Provincial government agencies are not eligible for funding.

Types of projects eligible for funding

Remedial Action Plans have been developed for each Canadian Great Lakes AOC. These plans identify activities required to restore AOC water quality and aquatic ecosystem health, including projects that contribute to directly eliminating identified Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) from the three priority areas under the AOC program Action, Science or Engagement. Examples of eligible projects include:


  • restoring degraded habitat
  • remediating contaminated sediment
  • reducing point and non-point pollution


  • conducting science and monitoring to inform remedial action planning and implementation
  • surveillance and monitoring processes to track the effectiveness of remedial measures and confirm restoration of beneficial uses


  • community engagement for decision making on RAP implementation and assessment:
    • identification of BUIs and causes
    • determination of criteria for the restoration of beneficial uses that take into account local conditions
    • identification of remedial measures to be taken, including identification of entities responsible for implementing these measures
  • developing and maintaining resources for RAP decision making:
    • websites
    • social media
    • other forums for communication supporting engagement


  • All applications proposing Engagement projects must submit a detailed work plan in addition to the application (to be submitted as an attachment).
  • Any approved project will be required to report on performance indicators as part of final reporting. 
  • Refer to Appendix B for a list of RAP websites.

Funding details

  • funding is available on an annual basis
  • GLPI may fund up to 100% of the project costs; however, project proponents are strongly encouraged to seek other sources of funding and/or in-kind project support
  • projects may be multi-year in nature, with a recommended maximum duration of three years

Eligible costs

Only costs directly attributed to carrying out the project will be eligible for funding, including:

  • human resource costs, including salaries and benefits
  • management and professional service costs, such as accounting, monitoring, communications, official languages translation, audit and legal charges
  • travel
  • material and supplies
  • printing, production and distribution costs
  • equipment and Capital Assets purchase or rental
  • vehicle rental and operation costs
  • contractors required to perform activities related to the project
  • cost associated with land acquisition or other means of land securement (i.e. leases, easements, covenants or servitudes)
  • a reasonable share of overhead and/or administrative costs
  • any GST/HST that is not reimbursable by Canada Revenue Agency and any PST not reimbursable by the provinces
  • other incremental expenditures directly related to the project (as pre-approved by ECCC)

Costs, other than those herein allowed, are ineligible unless specifically approved in writing by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change or his/her representatives at the time of project approval. For all costs, only those deemed to be a reasonable share for completing the project shall be considered eligible. Note that GLPI does not provide funding for capital or operating costs of municipal infrastructure or land acquisition.

Selection method

Project proposals will undergo a two-stage review process:

  1. administrative review by ECCC to ensure applications are complete and meet program eligibility requirements
  2. project evaluation by ECCC against evaluation criteria. ECCC may seek advice on proposal submissions from external advisors with knowledge and expertise relevant to the proposal; however, approval decisions will be made by ECCC

Administrative review

To be considered eligible for funding, project proposals must meet the following requirements:

  • the proposed project addresses priorities of the Remedial Action Plan or workplan of an AOC
  • the project applicant is eligible to receive funding
  • the geographic scope is limited to Canadian AOCs
  • funding will not be used for capital or operating costs of municipal infrastructure or land acquisition

Project evaluation

Eligible project proposals will be assessed on the extent to which proposals meet the following evaluation criteria:


  • the proposed project addresses issues in an AOC identified for completion of remedial action in the Canada–Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health and Remedial Action Plans
  • the proposed project will achieve a significant environmental result in the AOC
  • the proposed project, if it is a monitoring and assessment project, will help redesignate a BUI(s) or identify priority remedial actions
  • the proposed project, if related to engagement, will help redesignate BUIs through coordinated information exchange, and public and stakeholder engagement
  • the importance of implementing the project in the current year(s) proposed is explained

Project feasibility / likelihood of success:

  • the proposed project is technically feasible
  • the project timeline and work plan are realistic
  • the project proponent has, or has access to, the necessary technical expertise and staff to effectively implement the project
  • the necessary permits have been identified and/or received
  • the project proponent has experience planning and managing this type of project

Additional benefits:

  • the proposed project provides benefits to other GLPI priorities
  • the proposed project aligns well with other priority remedial actions in the AOC
  • the proposed project includes public outreach and/or engagement with the public, Indigenous communities and key stakeholders, which would benefit the Remedial Action Plan and AOC Program
  • the proposed project includes innovative approaches that could accelerate achievement of BUI delisting criteria or the delisting of the AOC

Value for money:

  • the proposed project represents good value for dollars invested
  • the proposed project includes cash and/or in-kind contributions from other sources

Description of the online application process and application sections

Environment and Climate Change Canada requires that applications to the GLPI be submitted online via the Grants and Contributions Enterprise Management System (GCEMS). The GCEMS is accessed through the department’s Single Window system.  For additional information on accessing the GCEMS through ECCC’s Single Window system, please see Appendix A.

The online Application Form for the GLPI: Restoring AOCs funding stream includes nine sections:

  • Section 1: Tombstone Data
  • Section 2: Project Summary
  • Section 3: GLPI – AOCs (program-specific section)
  • Section 4: Project Budget
  • Section 5: Project Work Plan
  • Section 6: Evaluation Plan and Performance Measures
  • Section 7: Other Supporting Information
  • Section 8: Official Languages
  • Section 9: Certification

In Section 1: Tombstone Data, provide basic information about your group as well as contact information for the individual leading the application.

In Section 2: Project Summary, provide basic information about the proposed project, including the name and location of the project, the project start and end date, the project goals/objectives, a brief general description of the proposed project, the experience of project team members and the financial and management capacity of the organization submitting the project proposal. If your project is approved for funding, the summary description you provide in your application may be made available to the public.

In Section 3: GLPI - AOCs (program-specific section), provide information about various aspects of the proposed project, including the proposed project’s priority focus(es) *(Action; Science; and/or Engagement); how the proposed project will assist with the restoration of beneficial uses within the AOC and the achievement of delisting targets; how the proposed project will assist with the completion of RAP recommended actions; a site description; and, details related to performance monitoring and the project budget.

*Projects must address one or more of the following priority focuses:

  • action: implement remedial actions that contribute to restoring a beneficial use in AOCs including, habitat rehabilitation, rural non-point source control, contaminated sediment remediation, municipal wastewater treatment, and urban storm water/combined sewer overflow control
  • science: conduct science and monitoring to assess status of BUI against delisting targets and inform remedial action planning and implementation
  • engagement: support strategic engagement with local communities for RAP work planning, implementation, and decision-making towards restoring BUIs

In Section 4: Project Budget, provide the total amount of ECCC funding that is being requested for the proposed project, outline the project’s budget and give an estimation of its forecasted expenses organized according to a set of pre-defined cost categories (such as salaries and wages; management and professional services; travel; and, material and supplies costs). The estimated cost of all project expenditures should reflect fair market values at the standard rate for that product or service in your area.

In this section, you are also required to provide details regarding the project's fiscal year breakdown. Determine the number of years of support from ECCC that your project requires (up to a maximum of 3 years) and indicate how the total amount of support requested will be allocated on an annual basis.

Disbursement of funds - Identify if your project involves the further disbursement of funds (such as landowner stewardship programs). 

Finally, in this section you are required to indicate other funding sources for the project if applicable. Provide letters of financial/in-kind support for the project in the Other Supporting Information section.

In Section 5: Project Work Plan, provide details on the activities that will be undertaken for the duration of the project.

In Section 6: Evaluation Plan and Performance Measures, provide details on how the expected results and successes of the project will be measured. Describe monitoring, or other follow-up activities, designed to assess the project’s performance (Note: It is important to describe monitoring in the context of delisting criteria/targets/performance for your AOC).

In Section 7: Other Supporting Information, provide further information relevant to the project that was not captured elsewhere in the application if needed. This may include water and sediment quality data, scientific publications, permit applications, material estimates, project schedule, and letters of financial/in-kind support for the project.

In Section 8: Official Languages, provide information related to the need to accommodate official language minority communities with respect to the proposed project’s activities.

In Section 9: Certification, certify that information provided in the Application Form is accurate and that you, as the applicant, have authorization to sign on behalf of the group.

Other instructions

Applicants are encouraged to provide the details necessary to give a full response to each section of the Application Form but should be as concise as possible.

Please ensure that all sections of the Application Form are complete prior to submission. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

Applicants may include additional information or documents with their application (such as examples of possible products, photographs, maps, etc.). If submitting additional material, it must be clearly marked and referenced accordingly in the relevant section of the application. All such material must be submitted in accordance with the instructions found online in the Other Supporting Information section.

Applicants are encouraged to identify any additional partner funding and/or in-kind project support that has been obtained and/or that is being sought. Please note that while this is not a requirement, applications demonstrating other sources of financial and/or in-kind support will be scored favourably when evaluated on value for money.

Note: if you are unable to complete and submit your application via the online application portal and wish to discuss options, please contact

Deadline and submission instructions

Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. EST on February 8, 2023. Late submissions will not be considered.

Once departmental approvals in principle have been confirmed, all applicants (both successful and unsuccessful) will be notified in writing. If your project is approved in principle, you will be contacted to negotiate a Contribution Agreement, which outlines the terms and conditions of funding. Please note that the letter of notification informing that your project has been approved in principle will also be shared with relevant federal MPs. We will work towards completing this process within 40 working days. Please note that meeting this standard for the development of a Contribution Agreement is a shared responsibility and largely depends on you submitting all required documentation to ECCC officials in a diligent and timely fashion.  

Project implementation can begin after formal notification of project approval, pending the execution of project agreements or contracts where applicable.

If a Contribution Agreement is signed, expenditures made by your organization towards the project after the date of official notification and before the Contribution Agreement is signed may be considered for reimbursement.

For clarification on any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact

Appendix A – the online application process

Environment and Climate Change Canada requires that applications to the GLPI: Restoring AOCs funding stream be submitted online via the Grants and Contributions Enterprise Management System (GCEMS). The GCEMS is accessed through the department’s Single Window system.

To sign in to the department’s Single Window system select your language preference on the welcome page and when prompted to choose a sign-in method, select the GCKey sign-in option. If you already have a GCKey username and password enter them in the appropriate spaces.

If you do not have a GCKey username and password proceed through the sign-up process to obtain your username and password.

New users to the Single Window system will then be prompted to enter their email address and guided through a process to create a user profile.

In order to gain access to the link that will allow you to navigate to the GCEMS, you must add an organization to your profile. On the menu select “Organizations” and follow the instructions on the web page that opens. Note that when entering the organization’s business number you may use one of the following; business number; GST number; charitable number/non-profit organization registration number; or First Nations Band number. Once you have added your organization, select “Home” on the menu to navigate to the webpage that contains the link to the GCEMS.

Once you have accessed the GCEMS site, click on the link “View funding opportunities” on the left hand side of the GCEMS “My applications” webpage. On the “View funding opportunities” webpage, locate the GLPI: Restoring AOCs in the “List of opportunities” table and view the funding opportunity information by clicking on the associated link in the “Action(s)” column. On the “View funding opportunity information” webpage, click on “Apply” to open the online application process for the GLPI: Restoring AOCs funding stream.

Information on how to access and use ECCC’s Single Window system.

For technical assistance with ECCC’s Single Window system, please contact

Information on how to access the GCEMS.

For technical assistance with the GCEMS, please contact

Appendix B – Remedial Action Plan websites 

Project proposals are not being solicited for the following AOCs: Nipigon Bay, Jackfish Bay, Peninsula Harbour, Spanish Harbour, and Port Hope Harbour.

Proponents are encouraged to contact local RAP coordinators or ECCC AOC staff at to discuss project proposals.   

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