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Policy Briefing: Water & Oceans

Government to keep Canada as a leader in oceans management

We understand that by championing the overall health of our oceans, we will ensure long-term, growing economic and social wealth for future generations.
Environmental policy analysts say undefined responsibilities and out of date risk assessments put Canada's freshwater at risk.
Beyond protected areas, we must work to prevent and mitigate harm from human activity that could negatively impact on our oceans.
Research on changing ocean currents and rising ocean acidity calls for more aggressive climate change policy.
There are few public policy objectives that command greater consensus in Canada than the principle that we should not permit the bulk removal of water from its natural basins.
Unfortunately, according to the federal environment commissioner, the Harper government has yet to develop and implement a national climate change adaptation strategy.
Canada is at the forefront of efforts to solve some of the world's water challenges. This is an environmental, human health, and moral imperative for us. It also affords significant economic opportunity for Canada. The ability to both source and produce fresh water should become part of Canada's global brand in the next decades.
And, thanks to the climate crisis, the pressure of time is accelerating.
Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield should accept the recent challenge of the Coastal Zone Canada Association to convene a national summit of key stakeholders to develop a plan of action for the health, resilience, safety and sustainability of our oceans, coasts and Great Lakes resources.
The concerns we have raised in this report are hardly new. About 20 years ago, the federal government acknowledged that the impacts of climate change would pose significant, long-term challenges throughout Canada, from more frequent and severe storms in Atlantic Canada to changes in the amount of rain available to farmers. And today, the federal government still lacks an overarching federal strategy that identifies clear, concrete actions supported by coordination among federal departments.
Transport Canada recognizes the need for up-to-date emergency management plans, and has committed to review and update our plans annually.
Departments are building on their activities in relation to the environment through credible science, successful partnerships, and a commitment to high-quality service delivery to Canadians.
Canadian Coast Guard will establish a periodic review process to ensure that its national and regional emergency management plans remain accurate and relevant. This review will be in place by spring of 2012.

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