Let me begin today by saying that as Minister of the Environment, I'm very proud of the high priority Canadians are placing on the environment. Canadians understand the value of our environment and they're getting involved more and more in the protection of our environment, and that's great news for everyone.
There is a growing understanding today that the links between our environment and our economy are absolutely inseparable. How we manage and care for our environment directly impacts the legacy we leave for the next generation. Our government understands this, and we are not only listening attentively to Canadians, we're taking real action to get real results for Canadians and for our environment.
In Budgets 2006 and 2007, our government announced investments of more than $9 billion in funding for priorities and initiatives related to environmental initiatives that will be implemented over a span of several years. Of this funding, close to $1 billion will flow to Environment Canada in the next five years to deliver on environmental initiatives.
This government has taken action on environmental priorities, actions that show beyond words and rhetoric that we are serious about protecting and improving our environment. Our government not only gets it, but we're showing the world that Canada is serious about reducing our emissions.
After 13 years of rising emissions, our government has put forward a plan, our “Turning the Corner” plan, which demonstrates real action, a commitment that goes beyond signing on the dotted line. For the first time in Canada's history, we've enlisted industry to take action and to implement mandatory, not voluntary, targets to reduce both greenhouse gases and air pollution. We are leading our country down a new path, and climate change has not been the only priority we're delivering on. We're also focusing on priorities like clean water, environmental protection, and something that's very important to me, conservation. We've been working to make sure that our natural legacy and ecosystems are conserved and that our wildlife and migratory birds are protected. Our government committed $22 million in Budget 2007 to hire more environmental enforcement officers. Our commitment will ensure improved accountability in environmental enforcement: polluters will pay.
We are also working to ensure the safety of Canadians through our weather services and our storm warning systems. Protecting Canada's natural heritage has also been a priority, and we have targeted part of the budget funding toward supporting a massive natural areas conservation program, expanding protected areas in the Northwest Territories, and implementing the Species at Risk Act.
Let me give you a few examples of some of the important work we're doing at Environment Canada to protect wildlife. Environment Canada is doing research on the ecology of the polar bear as well as negotiating a conservation agreement among Canada, Nunavut, and Greenland.
As you may know, we expect the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada to report on the status of the polar bear population. We've engaged 18 of the top scientists from academia, government, and non-government groups across Canada to determine the critical habitat of the caribou of the boreal forest. This will not only help the caribou population but contribute to the biodiversity of the boreal forest in our great country.
We've completed a recovery strategy for two important seabirds, the pink-footed shearwater and the short-tailed albatross. And as my colleague, the member for Langley, recently announced, we will be taking action to protect the Scott Islands in British Columbia, which will further help these species.
We're also doing important research on another migratory seabird, the marbled merlet, a species that resides in the Great Bear rainforest, which this government contributed $30 million to help protect. We're hopeful that this action will result in a downgrading of its status in the Species at Risk Act.
These are just a few examples of the excellent work done by the men and women of Environment Canada who are dedicated to protecting some of the most vulnerable species. Canada is fortunate to be served by such high-quality public servants who are truly dedicated to a noble cause.
Mr. Chair, our government promised to focus its budget on priority setting, and as you can see, we are remaining true to our word. Yet even with our numerous investments and environmental priorities, Environment Canada has been facing challenges to deliver ongoing programs and services to Canadians, notwithstanding the substantial investment being made by this government for the environment.
This does not mean that the department has grown in each and every area. When we look at the current departmental budget and supplementary estimates, we must recognize that we are only partway through the fiscal year. What we are looking at right now is not the total picture. The department's budget may still change as a result of funding from supplementary estimates later this fiscal year.
Right now Environment Canada's budget for this fiscal year stands at $842 million. The supplementary estimates currently before the House of Commons include another $290 million, which, if passed, will increase the department's budget to over $1 billion.
It must be noted, however, that what we see in the present supplementary estimates is in large part funding that was associated with the new programs being transferred to Environment Canada from another department.
The largest increase relates to the transfer of the Toronto waterfront revitalization initiative to Environment Canada, a budget item that's previously been shown in Treasury Board Secretariat's estimates. The fact is it will include funding from supplementary estimates (A) without the funding for the newly transferred functions. The overall budget for the department will increase this year by approximately $55 million.
Mr. Chair, what needs to be understood is that the new funding coming to the department is specifically targeted towards delivering on the government's environmental priorities. This funding does not add to the department's bottom line. Therefore, core funding remains constrained.
Even as the department is receiving new money, it is not allocated to legacy and existing programs and services in all cases. There are a number of reasons for the financial pressures on core funding at Environment Canada.
First of all, the 2005 expenditure review undertaken by the previous government resulted in a cut of about $22 million, which is no longer available to the Department of the Environment year over year. The fact is that was made and approved by one of my predecessors in that year.
In fact, Environment Canada is feeling the effects of another spending restraint measure dating back to 2003, again under the previous government. This is a reality that we have inherited and we are doing our best to deal with.
In addition, because of the cuts made by the previous government, Environment Canada's budget has been limited by the amount of funding available for the department to carry forward into the next fiscal year. In previous years this amount totalled $25 million to $35 million; however, it went down to as little as $13 million.
The budgetary situation has further been compounded by new requirements, which are being addressed internally. The department has had to enhance its informatics operations required to provide the capacity and security in support of our science-based programs. The department moved forward towards audited financial statements, requiring additional investments to meet this requirement.
The department also underwent a significant reorganization less than two years ago. This reorganization aimed to move the department towards a new results-based structure to ensure that the highest priorities are being addressed. This came with financial impacts.
The transformation implemented in April 2006 has had an impact on the department.
Collectively, all of this has added to a tight but manageable financial situation. Prudent management dictates that a constant review of current operations is required, making sure that limited resources are managed efficiently and that funds for lower priorities are moved into higher ones.
Given that my timeline is coming to an end, I'll move to the conclusion.