Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of the Environment and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, it gives me great pleasure to respond to the question from the distinguished member for Davenport.
I am pleased to report that today the Minister of the Environment along with the Ontario minister of environment and energy made an official announcement about the finalized Canada-Ontario agreement respecting the Great Lakes basin ecosystem. The agreement was signed in March 2002.
During the period of negotiation on the agreement and through to its official announcement today, ongoing work on the Great Lakes has continued apace. The public has been aware that an agreement was to be announced shortly. In fact a draft of the COA was made available to the public for comment in the fall of 2001. The draft agreement has been available on Environment Canada's website since that time.
The delay in announcing the final COA was due to scheduling difficulties between the two governments but I can assure everyone that the implementation of this agreement is under way. The governments of Canada and Ontario share a common interest in rehabilitating, protecting and conserving the Great Lakes basin ecosystem.
The 2002 Canada-Ontario agreement is a successful model of federal-provincial co-operation which recognizes the shared jurisdiction surrounding many of the issues faced within the Great Lakes basin. It establishes common goals and results. It co-ordinates actions to eliminate overlap and duplication and optimizes the use of resources for maximum results.
Previous Canada-Ontario agreements have enabled us to achieve significant progress toward our shared vision of a healthy, prosperous and sustainable Great Lakes basin for present and future generations. We have reduced the levels of many pollutants, improved water quality and restored species and their habitats.
The 2002 agreement will enable us to continue to make progress on priority issues. The agreement recognizes the need to continue to tackle the most pressing issue, the cleanup of the 16 remaining Canadian areas of concern, while also addressing broader issues such as binational management on a lake by lake basis and the reduction of harmful pollutants.
Signatories to the agreement are the federal ministers of agriculture and agri-food, the environment, fisheries and oceans, health, heritage, natural resources, public works and government services and transport and the provincial ministers of agriculture, food and rural affairs, the environment and natural resources.
At the outset of negotiating the Canada-Ontario agreement, the Government of Canada demonstrated its continuing commitment and leadership by announcing an additional $40 million specifically for the cleanup of areas of concern. At the conclusion of negotiations, Ontario announced $50 million for work on areas of concern and other Great Lakes management issues. While these resources are allowing us to accelerate actions, the governments of Canada and Ontario recognize that it is going to take considerable time, effort and resources to achieve the goal of a healthy, prosperous and sustainable Great Lakes Basin ecosystem.
Both governments have made a commitment to undertake ongoing public consultations and report back regularly on both the state of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem and the government progress on commitments under the COA. The efforts of the Government of Canada and Ontario alone cannot achieve the vision of a healthy, prosperous and sustainable Great Lakes basin. The engagement and efforts of all levels of government, the private sector, community groups and individuals are required.