Government Gives Nod to Nature Conservation in Throne Speech, Budget

In last week’s Throne Speech, and then in this week’s Federal Budget release, the Federal Government made a number of promising announcements for those who love nature.

First, the Government announced it plans to “create significant new protected areas,” including a new urban national park in the Rouge Valley of eastern Toronto. Secondly, the Government pledged to “engage a broad range of stakeholders on the development of a National Conservation Plan.”

Talk of a national conservation plan is good. Conserving wildlife, wild spaces, and the environment is a complex challenge, but fortunately there are many people helping. People in Aboriginal, provincial, and territorial governments, nonprofit organizations, local clubs, landowners, businesses, industries, and others are all doing their part.

A national plan to support and coordinate these efforts would make the job of nature conservation so much more effective. I’m looking forward to working with the Federal Government on bringing the plan to fruition.

We learned a few more details from the Federal Budget – including $5.5 million over 5 years to establish Mealy Mountains National Park in Labrador. Nature Canada campaigned for over 15 years to protect the majestic Mealy Mountains region, a place characterized by wild lakes and rivers, glacier-worn mountains, subalpine plateaus, bogs and fens, marine coasts, salt-swept islands, sandspits, coastal plains and boreal forests. The establishment of this National park is great news for the Woodland Caribou, Harlequin Duck and other wildlife that call the Mealy Mountains home.

There were other commitments made in this week’s budget announcement that should benefit nature, including $5 million over 2 years to improve near-shore water and ecosystem health, and better address the presence of phosphorous in the Great Lakes, renewed funding for the Clean Air Agenda, and the ecoEnergy Retrofit Homes program.

The Green Budget Coalition (Nature Canada is a founding member and home for its Secretariat) released a scorecard this week summarizing these and other nature-related budget announcements, which you can see online.

These announcements are promising words that need to be backed up with action. Much work remains to protect and conserve nature in Canada and we at Nature Canada look forward to working with the government to ensure that happens.