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ARCHIVED - Government Response to Proposed COA

II - Framework

Great Lakes community: A comment was received requesting a definition of Great Lakes community in Article I.

Response: The term Great Lakes community is meant to be inclusive as possible and therefore does not require a definition.

Funding: Comments were received regarding the importance of adequate funding and distribution among priorities, and a suggestion to include some level of financial reporting.

Response: Article V commits the Government of Canada to provide the resources needed to implement the Agreement.

Funds are allocated to national programs and dedicated Great Lakes initiatives to deliver on the priorities in the Basin which are reflected in the goals, results and commitments of the Agreement.

Canada has placed a priority on the restoration of Areas of Concern. In Budget 2005, the federal government announced $40 million over five years to restore ecosystem health in Great Lakes Areas of Concern. Budget 2007 provided $11 million over two years for remediation of contaminated Great Lakes sediments. Canada regularly reports on its activities and funding in Areas of Concern.

COA Review: Comments received asked for more information about the review process.

Response: Article X of COA commits to a comprehensive review of COA by November 2009, including consultation with the Great Lakes community. The COA review will consider the recommendations and results of the GLWQA review. Details of the COA review process have not been finalized.

COA Reporting: Comments received also asked for increased COA public reporting.

Response: COA makes a number of commitments to report both on COA progress and on specific issues, such as the status and trends in water quality and aquatic ecosystem health. For example, COA commits the governments to preparing a report card on the status of beneficial use impairments in 15 Areas of Concern by 2010 (Annex 1, Result 2.6) and a report on pollutant release profiles in the Great Lakes Basin (Annex 2, Result 4). In addition, Article VI commits the COA management committee to report to the public on progress in a manner that is meaningful, timely, reliable and in plain language.

Many Great Lakes initiatives report regularly on issues relevant to COA. For example the Binational Toxics Strategy reports annually on progress being made to reduce specific substances that are relevant also to COA.

COA Workplanning: A request for clarification on the workplanning process and for the involvement of other members of the Great Lakes community.

Response: The COA workplanning process engages COA signatory agencies in the development, sharing, and review of detailed multi-year workplans to ensure coordinated actions in response to COA commitments. Workplans are updated annually. Coordination and engagement of other stakeholders is accomplished through a variety of mechanisms which include the Remedial Action Plans for Areas of Concerns, lakewide programs and the Binational Toxics Strategy.

COA Principles: A number of comments were received seeking clarification or changes to the principles:

  • It was questioned how the COA principle of conservation is reflected in the Agreement.
  • Prevention and precaution should be explicitly applied throughout COA.
  • Define Traditional Ecological Knowledge and explain how it would be used in COA.
  • Ensure that the communications principle reflects two-way communication.
  • An alternative definition of the Net gain principle was provided.

Response: Canada and Ontario have developed a series of principles that will guide actions under COA.

  • The principle of conservation is applied and promoted across all COA goals and results. It is a particular focus of one goal in Annex 3 which is to encourage and enhance Great Lakes sustainability to achieve social, economic and aquatic ecosystem well being. This goal includes a commitment to foster sustainable water use and conservation consistent with the intent of the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement. COA also includes commitments to support biodiversity conservation.
  • Prevention and precaution are implicit principles behind the implementation of COA.
  • The addition of the term traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in the principle of science-based management acknowledges this field of environmental expertise. There are many different definitions of TEK. In order not to limit the use or scope of TEK in support of the achievement of COA commitments, TEK has not been defined in the Agreement.
  • The cooperation and collaboration principles includes the concept of two-way communication. In addition, a communications strategy will be prepared for the term of the Agreement.
  • The principle of net gain can be expressed in many different ways and the definition provided in COA captures the essence of this concept.

COA Management Committee and Annex Implementation Committee: A comment received supported having appropriate representatives from federal and provincial agriculture ministries included in the COA Management and Annex Implementation Committees. Comments were received requesting inclusion of non-signatory entities, such as conservation authorities, environmental non-government organizations and the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Cities Initiative in COA management committees.

Response: All COA signatory agencies are represented in the COA Management and Annex Implementation Committees including representation from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

There are mechanisms within the Agreement that engage municipalities, conservation authorities, and non-government organizations, such as the Remedial Action Plan process in AOCs, the lakewide programs, the Binational Toxics Strategy and the State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference. Consistent with Article VI of COA, Canada will continue to work with others in the basin to explore the best means to enhance effective and efficient participation.

Amending the Agreement: A comment was received to ensure that the Great Lakes community is engaged in any amendments to the Agreement.

Response: As stipulated in Article XI, any amendments to the Agreement will be undertaken in an open and transparent manner which will include public consultation.

Term of the Agreement: A comment was received supporting the term of the agreement until March 31, 2010 and another suggested a longer term would be beneficial.

Response: A term to March 31, 2010 allows for Canada and Ontario to more effectively respond and align to any potential changes to the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement that may result from the review process currently underway.

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