The Great Lakes are vitally important to the Province of Ontario. 98% of Ontarians live in the Great Lakes basin where most of our economic, agricultural and social activities take place. The lakes themselves are a direct source of drinking water for the majority of Ontarians.
The Province of Ontario has worked collaboratively for decades to protect Great Lakes water quality and ecosystem health and is guided by the vision of Great Lakes that are drinkable, swimmable and fishable for generations to come.
To support these efforts, the Government of Ontario, represented by the Ministries of Environment and Climate Change; Natural Resources and Forestry; and, Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, has signed and entered into a new Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health, 2014 (COA) with the Government of Canada.
COA is a principal mechanism through which Ontario and Canada coordinate their work to address their respective and shared commitments to protect the Great Lakes. The term of the Agreement is from December 18, 2014 until December 17, 2019. The full text of the COA can be obtained through this hyperlink. This new Agreement is the 8th Canada-Ontario Agreement since 1971.
This decision posting comes at the end of Ontario’s process of negotiating an agreement with the Government of Canada and engagement with the public, First Nations, Métis, and the broader Great Lakes community. This process included:
- Specific engagement sessions during the development of the 8th COA:
- The Great Lakes community (November 19, 2012, December 18, 2012, and April 3, 2013)
- The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (December 3, 2012)
- Conservation Authorities (April 3, 2013)
- Chiefs of Ontario (February 22, 2013, March 21, 2013, June 13, 2013 and January 31, 2014)
- Métis Nation of Ontario (February 10, 2014)
- First Nations communities and organizations (including Provincial Territorial Organizations and Independents) were kept up-to-date on negotiations through on-going monthly teleconferences
- Input obtained through engagement on the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act, Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy, the second extension of the 2007 COA, and feedback Canada received as it amended the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA), also informed Ontario’s negotiating position
- The Draft COA was posted for public review and comment on the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change’s Environmental Bill of Rights Registry in April 2014
- Canada concurrently posted the Draft COA on the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) Environmental Registry, with a policy proposal notice in the Canada Gazette
- On October 4, 2014, as stipulated under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), Canada posted a response to public comments to the CEPA Registry.
Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health, 2014 (COA):
The COA consists of a Framework Agreement and Fourteen Annexes.
The Framework Agreement includes 12 Articles which describe the purpose, principles and administration of the Agreement. Oversight of the Agreement will be entrusted to an Executive Committee, consisting of Regional Director Generals and Assistant Deputy Ministers or most senior level 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 implementation of the Annexes of the Agreement will be entrusted to a Management Committee, consisting of the federal and provincial leads for each Annex, as well as director or managerial level representatives from all departments, ministries, and agencies of the Parties who are responsible for leading or supporting one or more commitments in the Annexes.
Each Annex specifies:
- 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;
- Results that the Parties will pursue in order to contribute towards the achievement of the stated goals; and
- Commitments 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.
Annex 1: Nutrients
This Annex takes an integrated approach to reduce excess nutrients and to reduce harmful and nuisance algal blooms. It includes a commitment to conduct watershed studies and implement on the ground actions in rural, urban and agricultural landscapes.
Annex 2: Harmful Pollutants
This Annex guides cooperative and coordinated actions to reduce or eliminate releases of harmful pollutants into the Great Lakes basin. It includes commitments to strengthen spill prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.
Annex 3: Discharges from Vessels
This Annex ensures that discharges from vessels do not adversely impact the Great Lakes.
Improving Wetlands, Beaches and Coastal Areas
Annex 4: Areas of Concern
This Annex aims to restore water quality and ecosystem health in Areas of Concern (AOCs) and includes the goals of completing priority actions for delisting in five AOCs – Nipigon Bay, Peninsula Harbour, Niagara River, Bay of Quinte and St. Lawrence River and making significant progress in the other remaining AOCs.
Annex 5: Lakewide Management
This Annex advances restoration, protection and conservation of the Great Lakes through collaboration among jurisdictions and with the Great Lakes community on a lake-by-lake basis. It includes initiatives and lake specific priority actions to address current and future threats to beach quality.
Protecting Habitat and Species
Annex 6: Aquatic Invasive Species
This Annex ensures cooperative and coordinated efforts to reduce the threat of aquatic invasive species to Great Lakes water quality and ecosystem health. It includes a commitment to understand and respond to the potential for new or expanded ranges of Aquatic Invasive Species in the Great Lakes.
Annex 7: Habitat and Species
This Annex continues efforts to restore, protect and conserve the resilience of Great Lakes native species and their habitats. It includes a commitment to conserve priority habitats using a variety of tools, including collaborative initiatives.
Enhancing Understanding and Adaptation
Annex 8: Groundwater Quality
This Annex supports efforts to gain a better understanding of how groundwater influences Great Lakes water quality and ecosystem health, and identifies priority areas for future action. It includes a commitment to assess the state of groundwater science as it pertains to Great Lakes water quality and ecosystem health.
Annex 9: Climate Change Impacts
This Annex continues to build understanding of climate change impacts and advance the integration of this knowledge into Great Lakes adaptation strategies and management actions. It includes a pilot assessment of the vulnerability of the impacts of climate change on a municipal water treatment plant in southern Ontario.
Annex 10: Science
This Annex enhances the effectiveness and efficiency of Great Lakes science activities through planning, cooperation, coordination and communication. It includes undertaking targeted, issue-specific reviews and assessments of key threats and emerging issues of concern to the Great Lakes as required.
Promoting Innovation and Engaging Communities
Annex 11: Promoting Innovation
This Annex creates long-term, environmentally sustainable economic opportunities that improve water quality and ecological health and contribute to the well-being of the Great Lakes community. It includes working with companies to commercialize their new technologies in the water sector/market.
Annex 12: Engaging Communities
This Annex empowers communities by providing opportunities for individuals and groups to enjoy and help take care of the Great Lakes. It includes helping school boards, school administrators and teachers to become aware of opportunities to use the Great Lakes as a context for teaching and learning.
Annex 13: Engaging First Nations
A Goal of this Annex is to collaborate and build relationships with First Nations to assist in the restoration, protection and conservation of the Great Lakes. The Annex includes collaborating with First Nations in the delivery of the Agreement and opportunities to collaborate with First Nations on traditional knowledge.
Annex 14: Engaging Métis
A Goal of this Annex is to collaborate and build relationships with Métis to assist in the restoration, protection and conservation of the Great Lakes. The Annex includes collaborating with Métis in the delivery of the Agreement and opportunities to collaborate with Métis on traditional knowledge.