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Liberals commit to Canadian Freshwater Strategy, including a focus on Canada’s flood-prone regions

Posted on April 19, 2011

WINNIPEG – As a key component of a new Canadian Freshwater Strategy, a Liberal government will focus on flood mitigation for flood-prone regions of Canada like those in Manitoba, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff announced today.

“The people of Manitoba repeatedly endure the devastating effects of spring flooding,” said Mr. Ignatieff. “In Manitoba and elsewhere in the country, these floods wreak havoc and devastation on entire communities, put lives at risk, and harm agriculture and local economies – all at a considerable long-term cost.”

Seasonal floods affect many parts of Canada, in the Red River Valley in Manitoba, southern Québec, the Saint John Valley of New Brunswick and British Columbia’s lower mainland.

Natural Resources Canada has found that water-related disasters, like droughts and floods, remain Canada’s most expensive natural disasters.

Many Aboriginal communities, in particular, have confronted flooding challenges year after year, the effects of which worsen already challenging living conditions resulting from inadequate housing and a lack of access to clean drinking water.

“There are a number of serious water issues in Canada,” said Mr. Ignatieff. “It’s time the federal government showed leadership, and convened all jurisdictions, including the provincial and municipal governments, Aboriginal leaders, experts and stakeholders to develop a Canadian Freshwater Strategy to address all the complex and inter-related water issues we face, including flooding, drought, groundwater contamination, and conservation.”

A Liberal government will invest $225 million in its first two years in a new Canadian Freshwater Strategy.  This Strategy will include a focus on risk prevention and flood mitigation.

“Where significant, long-term infrastructure investments are needed, particularly for flood prevention, knowledge gained through the Canadian Freshwater Strategy will inform those investments,” said Mr. Ignatieff. “This will ensure that all levels of government work together and get maximum value for money.”

“The previous Liberal government invested $665 million with the Manitoba government in the Red River floodway expansion in 2004,” said Mr. Ignatieff. “We need to make sure the federal Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements Act responds promptly and thoroughly to help Manitobans in the aftermath. The next federal government must also work with Manitobans proactively to prevent recurring disasters in flood-prone areas, including First Nations lands.”

BACKGROUND
Liberal Freshwater Strategy

A Liberal government will work with the provinces, municipalities, Aboriginal leadership and other stakeholders to develop a new Canadian Freshwater Strategy.  This will include an investment of $225 million in the first two years of a Liberal government in Canada’s first comprehensive federal water policy in over 20 years.

A critical component of the Canadian Freshwater Strategy will be securing our fresh water systems through risk prevention and flood mitigation by working with provincial and territorial partners to make strategic investments in critical infrastructure to avoid skyrocketing flood recovery costs.

The Canadian Freshwater Strategy will also address growing challenges such as drought, ground water contamination and water consumption efficiency. The objective of the Strategy will be to preserve Canada’s freshwater heritage for the generations to come.   Other efforts that will arise from the Freshwater Strategy include:

  • Restoring degraded and threatened areas across the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence regions;
  • Supporting efforts to clean up Lake Winnipeg, which suffers from excess levels of phosphorus and nitrogen; and
  • Advancing research and improve efforts to protect freshwater ecosystems from invasive species such as the Zebra Mussel.
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