Thank you, Mr. Chair.
There are two key questions I want to get to, and if there's time remaining, if we can keep our responses reasonable, I'd like to pass the remaining time to Mr. Miller.
Minister, thank you for being here. I have a question regarding the glaring absence of any funding plans in the estimates for preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species, or AIS, particularly in my home province of British Columbia. The Okanagan Basin Water Board in Kelowna found that the introduction of invasive mussels into the Okanagan region alone would cost an estimated $43 million annually in mitigation and infrastructure maintenance. DFO's own evaluation of its fisheries protection program states that “the economic and environmental damage that some AIS have caused and can cause far outweighs the cost of prevention”.
Last year, MP Albas and I wrote you regarding the need for federal support for AIS prevention in B.C., and your response in October highlighted the $43.8 million proposed in the 2017 budget for preventing and eradicating AIS. DFO's own evaluation of the fisheries protection program states that aquatic invasive species component is currently restricted from “achieving an impact beyond the Great Lakes”. I am concerned if western Canada and the territories will see any of the funding you mentioned.
In your response to our letter, you wrote that “In British Columbia, there will be new DFO resources to develop, coordinate, and implement regional aquatic invasive species activities.”
Minister, as the 2018 boating and fishing season approaches, what new DFO resources will be provided to British Columbia to help prevent the introduction of zebra and quagga mussels?