Ottawa cuts water surveillance amidst warnings to heed climate change

OTTAWA — Environment Canada is cutting the scope of its water surveillance, internal documents show, even as Ottawa is being publicly warned to mind the serious effects of climate change.

OTTAWA — Environment Canada is cutting the scope of its water surveillance, internal documents show, even as Ottawa is being publicly warned to mind the serious effects of climate change.

A new report from the soon-to-be-defunct National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy warns that both business and government are dragging their feet in preparing for the inevitable effects of global warming.

At the same time, an internal memo from Environment Canada shows that budget cuts will require the department to scale back its monitoring of water — the very element that climate change most influences.

“The Sustainable Water Management Division is the most impacted,” John Moffet, director general of legislative and regulatory affairs at Environment Canada, says in a note to his colleagues explaining how some of the budget cuts will work. The note has been widely circulated among environmental activists.

“The work related to water use efficiency and conservation, including the Municipal Water and Wastewater Survey, will end; the work on surface water modeling will end.”

Other parts of the water monitoring operation will be split up and folded in to other areas of the department, says the memo.

The cuts to water and elsewhere on the environment file, along with new measures to streamline environmental assessment and to audit charities, amount to a giant blow, says John Bennett, executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada.

“They are systematically dismantling the federal government’s ability to monitor the environment,” he said. “They would just like everybody to get out of the environment business.”

A spokesman for Environment Minister Peter Kent says the cuts in the area of sustainable water management will save $1.5 million, and no harm will come of it.

That’s because the programs in question duplicate services in water quantity — not quality — performed at other levels of government, spokesman Adam Sweet said.

“Duplication” is the same reason Kent has given for eliminating the National Round Table. Its $5-million budget will be cancelled at the end of this fiscal year because its services are available elsewhere from universities and think tanks, Kent has said.

The round table president — hand-picked by the Conservative government — refutes that rationale.

David McLaughlin heads the advisory panel that has produced a string of hard-hitting reports that model the effects of climate change on the economy, and devised a solid carbon-pricing scheme to mitigate the effects.

“This is new and original information that we’re putting out,” he said. “Maybe the government in some cases” produces some of the analysis that the round table is working on. “But that work isn’t always public,” McLaughlin adds.

The occasional think tank has done some similar work, too, but not in a systematic way or with the sophisticated modelling that has led to the round table breaking ground on detailing the probable effects of climate change, he said.

Just Posted

Spring book sale this weekend in Red Deer

Red Deerians can get lost in a world of inexpensive books this… Continue reading

Central Alberta wildlife rehab facility not prepared to take orphaned bear cubs, yet

It’s been about eight years since the Medicine River Wildlife Centre was… Continue reading

Regional sewage line moving ahead despite concerns

Cost sharing among concerns of municipalities involved in Sylvan Lake-to-Red Deer sewage line

Red Deer family who lost everything in house fire begin rebuilding

Couple had moved into north-end home only two days before basement fire

Tory Leader Andrew Scheer says he doesn’t feel betrayed by Maxime Bernier

MONTREAL — Andrew Scheer says he doesn’t feel betrayed by former Tory… Continue reading

WATCH: Fine wine and food at Red Deer College

The Red Deer College Alumni Association hosted its 14th annual Fine Wine… Continue reading

Boston’s Tuukka Rask, Riley Nash step up in Game 4 win over Leafs

Bruins 3 Maple Leafs 1 TORONTO — The Boston Bruins didn’t need… Continue reading

Supreme Court ruling corks B.C. vintners’ hopes for free trade of Canadian wines

VANCOUVER — The Supreme Court of Canada ruling upholding interprovincial trade laws… Continue reading

Lance Armstrong settles $100M lawsuit with U.S. government

Disgraced cyclist reached $5-million settlement with sponsor U.S. Postal Service

Montreal couple hoping city lets them keep beloved pet pig named Babe

MONTREAL — Babe the pig spends his days sleeping, going for walks… Continue reading

WATCH: This is a story about a stoned raccoon at a fire station

An unusual pair showed up in the pre-dawn hours at Fire Station… Continue reading

Plastic makers’ credit ratings may be hit by pollution rules

Plastic packaging makers may be less credit-worthy in the future as governments… Continue reading

Black Press Media acquires two new Alaska newspapers

New Media Investment Group to acquire the Akron (OH) Beacon Journal while Black Press Media takes on daily newspapers in Juneau and Kenai Alaska

‘Dining of the future’: vegan restaurant boom fuelled by meat eaters

Foodies say Canada is in the midst of a renaissance in plant-based… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month