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Speaking Notes for
The Honourable Peter Kent, MP, PC
Minister of the Environment To the 2013 Joint Scientific Congress of the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society,
Canadian Geophysical Union and the Canadian Water Resources Association Teachers' Credit Union Place,
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan May 27, 2013
Thank you and good morning everyone.
This is quite an event! This is the first time ever that the "big three" -- Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS), Canadian Geophysical Union (CGU) and the Canadian Water Resources Association (CWRA) -- have come together for a joint scientific congress.
This is a first rate congress, with some of the best scientists, educators and policy makers from across Canada and around the world. It is a powerhouse of knowledge with all of you brought together to share ideas on important issues such as weather, climate change and the water cycle.
The theme this year is "Bridging Environmental Science, Policy and Resource Management." And as the theme suggests, we are presented with a unique opportunity for us to build bridges -- across disciplines, across borders, across the country -- and where better than right here in Saskatoon -- a place known as "the city of bridges." And furthermore, this is an excellent opportunity to engage in a dialogue.
Today, I would like to speak very briefly about Environment Canada, my department, and its contribution towards helping Canadians make informed decisions for their health, safety, security, economic prosperity and the protection of the environment. There are three areas I would like to touch on in this regard, this morning -- science, weather and water.
Science is the foundation on which we build -- the basis for the decisions we make. And it is a large part of the contribution we make to Canada and the world.
I am extremely proud to note that Environment Canada is one of the most productive institutions in environmental research in the world. Our scientists are the authors of more than 700 peer-reviewed publications every year.
Just as important, is the outward-looking, collaborative nature of that research. Our expert scientists conduct and publish around 90% of their research in partnership with external researchers. In addition, more than 45% of our publications result from international collaboration.
It is therefore not a surprise to anyone in this room that sound science is the basis for all of our efforts, whether it is on climate change, setting up monitoring plans or to threats to the air we breathe and the water we drink or to the biodiversity in our communities.
Science frames our ability to responsibly manage increasingly complex environmental issues. It supports the essential services we provide to Canadians -- everything from raising awareness of environmental threats and hot spots to forecasting weather and issuing warnings.
Environment Canada is also a national focal point for scientific research on climate and climate change. Our vast historical weather and environmental information has been critical to this research as well as to the development of climate change models. All of this helps us to better understand the impacts of climate change and how we might adapt to them. As an Arctic nation, we are more in tune and sensitive to this reality.
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada recently announced that seven innovative environmental projects will benefit from more than $32 million in research funding over five years through the new Climate Change and Atmospheric Research initiative.
This funding will advance our understanding of climate and the risks related to climate change. Environment Canada scientists are working closely with university researchers to strengthen our understanding of climate science and atmospheric processes in the North.
Furthermore, science is the foundation of the Joint Canada-Alberta Oil Sands Monitoring Plan. I was extremely proud to announce this exciting new initiative a month ago with my counterpart from Alberta, Minister McQueen. The Portal will bring rigorous and comprehensive monitoring of the oil sands and provide us with the best data we have ever had on the cumulative effects of oil sands projects. Furthermore, the Oil Sands Environmental Monitoring Information Portal is ensuring that data is transparent and accessible to everyone, from the comforts of our own homes.
Let me turn my focus to the subject of weather.
At Environment Canada we know that weather forecasting is not just about trying to determine if it is bring weather to an umbrella to work or to wear a tuque when heading out the door. It is about how we travel, work, play, build our homes and conduct business. It is about warning Canadians of potentially life-threatening hazards and allowing businesses to reduce their vulnerability to loss.
As people in this province know all too well, weather is an important consideration in when and where to plant crops. It is also central to aviation and marine safety. It can be a factor in how we design our cities. And it can affect businesses from tourism to transportation.
For Canadians, accurate weather information is not just a nice to have -- it is a necessity. And that is why we are committed to strengthening Environment Canada's Weather Services.
We have invested significant resources -- including nearly $35 million through Canada's 2010 Economic Action Plan to deliver new meteorological and navigational warning services in the Arctic, and approximately $79 million in 2011 to strengthen and improve weather monitoring. In this year's budget, our Government committed an additional $248 million over five years to further strengthen Canada's meteorological services.
In order to ensure our weather services are timely, accurate and reliable, sound science is absolutely key.
Our commitment to meteorological excellence has not gone unnoticed by the international community. The World Meteorological Organization recognizes our work. Their election of Environment Canada's very own -- David Grimes -- to be its president is not only an honour for Canada but it is also a source of pride for my department.
I would like to turn my attention to my final issue this morning -- that of water. Our water resources are critical to sustaining life, jobs and economic growth -- especially in our transportation, fishing, agriculture and tourism industries, but also important to the health of our environment
Not only does Canada have the third largest supply of fresh water in the world, -- and longest coastline in the world -- , but a recent discovery in Timmins, Ontario, revealed that we also have the oldest water in the world!
But, of course, it is on water a little closer to the surface that we spend most of our time.
Environment Canada is the official source for data on our supply of surface water.
We provide real-time water levels and flow information, through Environment Canada's Water Survey of Canada -- which allows provincial and territorial agencies to forecast floods for Canadians.
Environment Canada engages hundreds of scientists and technicians that are out in the field every day. They are at the forefront, monitoring the quality -- and quantity -- of our water. And they are leading research on our aquatic ecosystems.
The work they do informs the decisions made by all levels of government to preserve and improve Canada's water resources, for today and for the future.
The Government of Canada works closely with its provincial, territorial and municipal partners collecting, interpreting and sharing information because we all understand and share in this collective responsibility of managing our water.
We also work closely with our American neighbors in managing our shared resources, improving the quality of our water and enhancing the health of the ecosystems along our common border.
Environment Canada's scientists, research and services certainly play an important role -- providing sound science that can inform our cutting edge weather and water services
Your work is critical to ours. Your research informs our decisions and guides our actions. Together, our collaborations are helping to ensure Canada's communities can thrive in a clean, healthy environment and -- a strong economy.
Thank you. I wish all of you a very successful Congress.
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