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Water Today Title January 27, 2021

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Update 2019/10/15
Pre-election Q&As

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WT Staff

Last July, WT sent email questions addressed to top current ministers as a pre-election wrap-up. While, some ministers still have not answered, those who did clearly side-stepped our specific questions.

Our questions and the answers can be find below. We invite you to read them and judge for yourself whether these are website cut/pastes or answers from the ministers.

Catherine McKenna - Minister of Environment an Climate Change Canada (ECCC)

1. WaterToday - Canadian environmentalists have been bemoaning the absence of a National Water Strategy for years. While in opposition, the Liberal party endorsed this notion, with MP, Francis Scarpaleggia even promoting the creation of a Ministry of Water. Now that the Liberals are in power, this conversation has largely disappeared. The federal water policy is more than 25 years-old and badly outdated. Highly intensive industrial uses, agribusiness and pollution are having massive impacts on Canada’s water, can you tell us why this idea has not been pursued?

ECCC - The Government of Canada is committed to working with all orders of government, Indigenous peoples, and a range of important stakeholders to ensure that Canadians now, and for generations to come, have access to reliable and clean water resources. The protection and preservation of freshwater quality and quantity, and aquatic ecosystems, is an integral part of Environment and Climate Change Canada’s (ECCC) mandate. ECCC has an on-going role in water quality and quantity science and monitoring and also supports inter-jurisdictional water boards. ECCC also has legislative authority to take action on fresh water and improve coordination on freshwater-related initiatives through a number of acts including the Department of the Environment Act, the Fisheries Act, and the Canada Water Act, among others.

In addition, the Government of Canada is committed to the protection of priority water basins, as such, in Budget 2017, the federal government allocated $70.5 million over five years to ECCC to protect the Great Lakes and the Lake Winnipeg Basin. This investment is refocusing efforts to reduce the release of toxic chemicals; pursue ongoing cross-government collaboration to improve water quality, biodiversity conservation and sustainable use; and improve collaboration with Indigenous peoples. In addition, through Budget 2018, the Government provided ECCC with $89.7 million over five years to support the modernization of water services, including revitalizing water monitoring stations, improving services for long-range water forecasts, testing and implementing new technologies, and expanding technical and engineering capacity.

2. WaterToday - Since 2012, when Canada and the United States signed an agreement pledging to take action on high phosphorus levels in Lake Erie, the two countries have been working to develop ways to reduce them and the toxic algae blooms they produce. In 2016, the two countries committed to reducing the amount of phosphorus in the lake’s western and central basins by 40 per cent by 2025 (using 2008 levels as a baseline).

Is this bi-national effort to save Lake Erie having any noticeable impact in view of the fact that the problem is exacerbated by climate warming and invasive species such as the quagga mussels, not to mention that 72 per cent of the phosphorus-laden fertilizer comes from the US, where farmers are encouraged to voluntarily adopt sustainable practices without any enforcement mechanism in place.

ECCC - Canada is committed to supporting and promoting strong action by all levels of government, industry, nongovernmental organizations and others on both sides of the border to protect our Great Lakes. Binational science-based targets for Lake Erie have been developed to provide clarity on the magnitude of the change needed so that Canada and the U.S. can be held accountable for achieving the necessary load reductions. Domestic action plans to identify actions and organizations necessary to achieve these targets have been developed in Canada and the United States. The “Canada-Ontario Lake Erie Action Plan” to reduce phosphorus loads to Lake Erie from Canadian sources was released in Feb 2018. The development of the action plan was a joint effort between federal and provincial agencies and their partners (agricultural organizations, conservation authorities, municipalities and non-government organizations

In 2017, the Government of Canada announced an additional $44.84M for Canada’s Great Lakes Protection Initiative. Of this, $26M is dedicated to reducing toxic and nuisance algae and zones of low oxygen in Lake Erie. In order to reduce phosphorus loadings to Lake Erie from Canadian sources, the Great Lakes Protection Initiative is providing funding support for the implementation of projects which:
demonstrate innovative technologies and practices and the promotion of their broader uptake within sectors and communities, support watershed planning in order to focus efforts and investments on areas where the largest load reductions can be achieved and the greatest return on investment can be realized, and, support science to improve our understanding of algal issues in Lake Erie and measure and report on progress in reducing phosphorus loads to the lake.

At the present time, due to the large annual fluctuation in loads resulting from variations in precipitation and other factors, Environment Climate Change Canada cannot yet determine a reliable trend in loadings. The commitment to monitoring will be used to assess the long-term progress of planning and actions to reduce phosphorus loads from Canadian sources.

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Francois Philippe Champagne - Minister of Infrastructure and Communities (INFC)

1. WaterToday - There is an urgent need for housing in many native communities. Our media, WaterToday, has discussed housing with many Indigenous people; some have gotten six new homes, others have received an apartment block perhaps. In no way does this address the crisis, which is what it is. First Nations people have advised us to ask you, 'where's the help promised in the mandate letter? It's not good enough full stop'. Please can you address this with something that isn't a reprint from a website?

INFC- As housing does not fall under Infrastructure Canada’s purview, we would recommend contacting Indigenous Services Canada for more information on housing in Indigenous communities. Their contact information is available here: https://www.canada.ca/en/indigenous-services-canada/news/2018/09/new-contact-information-for-indigenous-services-canada-media-relations.html.

2. WaterToday - There is a renewable centre being developed in Kahnawake to teach Indigenous communities renewable energy. From what we know, looking into your past, renewable energy is something you are strong in. Would you see backing for these types of initiatives as something the infrastructure bank could help with? Perhaps using green bonds or tax credits as vehicles?

INFC- The Canada Infrastructure Bank will strategically invest $35 billion to attract private sector investment into revenue-generating infrastructure projects that are in the public interest. The investments made by the Bank will align with the Government of Canada’s priorities in areas like public transit, green infrastructure, trade and transportation and as announced in Budget 2019, broadband infrastructure.

As an arm’s-length organization, the Canada Infrastructure Bank works with provincial, territorial, municipal, Indigenous, and private sector investment partners to build new infrastructure in communities across Canada.

For more information on project eligibility and the Bank’s priorities and mandate, we would recommend you contact the Bank. Media enquiries can be referred to:
Félix Corriveau - fcorriveau@cib-bic.ca

You may also wish to contact Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank of Canada for more information on other potential financing avenues.

3. WaterToday - While protecting infrastructure from cyber threats is seen as a priority here and around the world, it is largely climate change that is wreaking havoc in the meantime. Many water plants, dams, wastewater facilities are or have been, affected by flooding. Shouldn't the infrastructure bank provide funding for some of the available flooding defences systems with a green bond or tax credit? It makes sense to protect the investments before something happens but what we are told is that there is no room for this sort of investment because it's not directly profit-generating. On the other hand, if an infrastructure is disabled or imperiled won't that cost much more money down the road? With your engineering background our viewers would be keen to hear your answer.

INFC- Disaster mitigation and climate change. Now more than ever, communities need support to adapt to the frequent and intensifying weather events that are associated with climate change.

Floods, wildfires, and winter storms are getting worse and more frequent. Disasters have a very real impact on Canadian communities, businesses, and families.

That’s why the Government of Canada launched the $2-billion Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF). The DMAF supports large-scale infrastructure projects -- including natural infrastructure, such as wetland restoration, wildfire barrier or setback and levees -- that help communities better prepare for and withstand the potential impacts of natural disasters.

To date, Infrastructure Canada has announced more than $1.4 billion in federal investments under the fund.

Attached, for your information, is a list of projects that have been funded to date. This information is also available on Infrastructure Canada’s website through the Investments Map< http://www.infrastructure.gc.ca/map-carte/index-eng.html>, which allows you to search projects based on location, program, and date.

4. WaterToday - There is a press release out about innovation almost every day, yet, we know of solar coatings for windows that can't get any financing, solar systems to reduce diesel use on ships, same issue, new thermal dynamic systems that make a kilowatt hour much cheaper than current pricing, overlooked as well. To a person these inventors say, you have to be politically connected to get help, or know the right person. Are you aware of this cynicism among these very bright Canadians? Why do we almost automatically have to go to foreign investment. Perhaps there's something that can be done through the infrastructure bank mechanism?

No answer provided.

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Minister Amarjeet Sohi - Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)

1. WaterToday - Our questions pertain to the Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities: Capacity Building Stream. You had two call for proposals both of which are now closed. Can you tell us how many were received and accepted? Where they came from, (for profit or non for profit organizations, governments, Indigenous Organizations)?

NRCan - The Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities (CERRC) Program, delivered by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), officially launched in February 2018 to support the clean energy projects that will reduce diesel reliance as well as build local capacity. Through two rounds of funding, NRCan has received 181 proposals, from every region in Canada. In the first round of proposals, 11 projects were recommended for funding which will be located in Indigenous communities. The second round of proposals are due by July 30, 2019.

Applicants come from a wide range of organizations, including private companies, non-profit organizations, communities, development corporations, and academic institutions.

2. WaterToday - Which of the three proposed streams - Scaling up, modifying or improving curriculum and technical training; Network development / peer-to-peer learning opportunities; or Community energy planning or community energy literacy- was the most popular? Can you give us a brief overview of one of these projects?

NRCan -The CERRC capacity building stream aims to support community-driven projects related to knowledge and skill development that will position or enable the reduction of diesel use in rural and remote communities. The thematic areas are designed to guide applicants, to focus their proposals and to target outcomes, however, they are encouraged to submit proposals that cut across several themes as they are interconnected. Many of the proposals touch on more than one of the thematic areas identified, however the majority of the proposals NRCan has received to date include some component of energy planning and awareness building on energy use in their community and the potential opportunities of transitioning to cleaner sources of energy for heat and power. The following two CERRC projects are good examples of this:

Energizing Youth: Capacity and Skill Building Program (NRCan supporting $400,000 over six years): Led by Opiikapawiin Services LP, this program will create pathways for interested youth to pursue employment in the clean energy field among 24 First Nation partners in Northern Ontario, 16 of which are remote, diesel reliant First Nation communities. The program will focus on teaching participants about the fundamentals of electricity transmission and distribution and provide them with job-shadowing opportunities and technical training. Its curriculum will incorporate traditional knowledge from participating communities and cross-cultural sharing.

NunatuKavut Youth Community Engagement Projects (NRCan supporting $245,000 over four years): Led by the NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC), this project will support the hiring of a clean energy coordinator, who will liaise between the NCC, research and not-for-profit partners, and communities to implement clean energy alternatives to diesel fuel. The funding will also assist in hosting gatherings that focus on community perspectives and youth engagement activities.

3. WaterToday - The main goal for this program was decreasing reliance on diesel in remote communities. Can you tell us how successful the program has been so far, how much diesel has or will be saved?

NRCan -The ultimate goal of the CERRC program is to provide opportunities for rural and remote communities to reduce diesel reliance for heat and power generation. The program will provide $220 million in funding over the next six years (April 2018 – March 2024), of which $210 million is for clean energy projects. Under this part of the CERRC program, NRCan may support projects related to one or more of the following components:
  • Deployment of renewable energy technologies for electricity including hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, and bioenergy. Heat may also be produced, but the primary purpose of the project must be electricity production.
  • Innovative demonstrations to reduce diesel use through the validation of novel renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, and smart-grid technologies and applications.
  • BioHeat to reduce fossil fuel use through the installation or investigation into the feasibility of biomass heating or combined heat and power systems for community and/or industrial applications.
While it is still early days for many of these projects, the Government of Canada is estimating that once they are operational, around 33 million litres of diesel fuel will be eliminated annually from off-grid communities for heat and power.

Minister Ralph Goodale - Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

1. WaterToday - As per your announcement at the Prairie Water Summit, Canadian municipalities need to plan and prepare for more flood events, the cost of paying for the damages after the fact is too high. How is your government recommending that municipalities protect Critical infrastructure ahead of the next flood season?

Public Safety - In response to your questions, provincial and territorial governments are ultimately responsible for overseeing flood mitigation efforts within their jurisdictions. Provincial and territorial governments design, develop and deliver disaster response and assistance programs within their own jurisdictions.

Although each province and territory manage flood risks separately, with the involvement of different departments and ministries, these efforts invariably involve working with local municipalities or other water agencies to identify flood mitigation needs, establish priorities and implement initiatives, such as preparing and maintaining flood mapping. Generally, local governments, working in conjunction with provincial/territorial authorities, are ultimately responsible for the identification of flood risks and the implementation of flood mitigation measures.

In addition, the federal government:
  • Shares the cost of mitigation projects under the National Disaster Mitigation Program (NDMP) and the New Building Canada Fund (NBCF)
  • Launched the $2 billion Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund to support large-scale infrastructure projects to help communities better manage the risks of disasters triggered by natural hazards.
  • Released the Federal Floodplain Mapping Framework to strengthen floodplain mapping, better addressing overland flooding.
  • Created the Flood Ready public awareness campaign to offer tools and tips to help people protect themselves before disaster strikes.
  • Is integrating climate resilience into the National Building Code and conducting research to factor climate resilience into the design of buildings and infrastructure.

2. WaterToday - Will your government be recommending that municipalities coordinate flood control barriers to avoid the public safety risk posed by sandbags?

No answer provided.


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