Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie, a former astronaut and head of the Canadian Space Agency for bringing forward this important motion.
Scientists across the country are crying out about the lack of research funds in this particular budget. It extends right to my riding, the farthest one in the country right on the Alaska-Yukon border, where Norm, an anthropologist from Yukon College, is doing great work on ancient peoples on the border. He needs that research money and decries the cuts to the major research funding councils in Canada.
In the north, we also need funding for caribou. There are great northern caribou herds. The indigenous people, such as the Gwich'in in my riding, in the north depend on the caribou for their existence. These caribou herds include: Porcupine, Wager Bay, Bathurst, Cape Bathurst, Peary, Dolphin and Union, West and East Bluenose, Beverly, Ahiak, Lorillard, Pen Island, Qamanirjuaq, Southampton and Coats Island, Cape Churchill, Baffin Island, Rivière aux Feuilles, and Rivière George.
Some of the great caribou herds are declining. We have done a lot of research, but we still need to know where they are, how they organize themselves, what defines the population and its range, and how their numbers change from decade to decade.
I was also disappointed to hear, in one of the speeches this morning, that research money for fisheries has been cut. We have great fisheries needs in Yukon. The second staple of one of our first nations, the Gwich'in, when the caribou are not there, is salmon. Yet, the salmon had drastic declines this year on the northwest coast. I am lobbying the secretary of state to cut the pollock fishery bycatch, but that is not the only thing affecting them.
We need that ocean research. What about the warming of the Pacific Ocean? How does the change in the current affect the location of the fish? How does it affect diseases and how do we help bring back those chinook salmon stocks?
When the former deputy prime minister of Canada, Anne McLellan, announced $150 million for International Polar Year, it put Canada at the forefront of that great episode which is now just winding down. We cannot lose that momentum of Arctic research. We have to keep it going.
One of the areas that was embellished at that time was the Sustaining Arctic Observing Network. These are basically observations in the north. The north is very important for us to study, so we can improve lives for the indigenous and other peoples living in the north. There are over 350 researchers, but more work needs to be done. It needs to be made permanent so that there are no gaps in the research.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Vancouver Centre.
The SAON has come up with an idea of a permanent Arctic Observing Forum, AOF. There will be a meeting on that soon, sponsored by the Arctic Council and the International Arctic Science Committee. I implore the government to make sure it does its part, along with the other northern nations in funding that Arctic Observing Forum, so that we can sustain the observations in the Arctic, so we can create those networks, fill in the gaps in research, and have the information necessary, especially at this time when changes in the Arctic are so rapid, so we can have a better environment, social conditions, and better economic and cultural conditions for the people of the north.
A high Arctic station is good, but we also need to embellish the other Arctic infrastructures, the Arctic Institute and the Cold Climate Innovation Centre in my riding as well as the great research centres in Nunavut and Northwest Territories. That has been done to some extent in this budget, and that is good.
It is great having these great stations, but if there are no scientists there, we can imagine the vision of all these beautiful stations in the north empty, no scientists, nothing happened. As one member said today, the infrastructure is like the car and the scientist is like the driver.
A perfect example is the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory, PEARL, in Eureka. One cannot get much farther north than that. This is a great strength to our sovereignty in the farthest part of the far north. The Conservatives, who pretend to believe in sovereignty, are closing that down.
Let me read from The Globe and Mail, from a week ago:
The Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, which had been financing his work, received no new money in budget 2009...But without new funding, CFACS will shut down by March 2010 and 24 research networks that have studied climate change and related issues will close down with it.
Can we imagine closing down 24 research networks in that particular area?
The Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences is very important and I cannot understand why the Conservatives would shut that down. It is Canada's only organization dedicated to funding university research on weather, the atmosphere and climate, and it did not receive any new funds in the recent budget.
As of 2008 all its funds have been fully committed and once these funds have been used, targeted support for climate and atmospheric science in Canada will simply no longer be available. Existing projects will start closing down in 2010 and the foundation's doors will close in early 2011.
New funds are required to support the continuation of high quality research aimed at federal policy needs to address the new and ongoing challenges related to the impact of changing climate conditions in Canadian society. And at the same time to support federal policy initiatives related to environmental commitments in strengthening the health, security and economic well-being of Canadians.
To date the foundation has also funded many initiatives where results coming from the research activities have led to breakthroughs in climatology, meteorology and oceanography. The results have found their way into the operations of both the federal government and private companies.
It funded 184 research grants at 35 Canadian universities and as a result either directly or indirectly supported over 400 Canadian researchers and the direct training of over 900 post-graduate students and post-doctoral research fellows, Canada's next generation of highly qualified and skilled people. All those 900 are gone.
The foundation committed over $115 million to the support of climate and atmospheric science and leveraged another $150 million in cash and in-kind support from partner organizations. CFCAS also committed one-third of its available funds of $30 million in university-led work on Arctic storms, melting permafrost, Arctic pollution, air quality, and changing sea ice conditions and the melting of Canada's glaciers.
Should CFCAS' doors close no other government agency has the mandate or funds to fill the resulting void. The loss of funding will significantly affect Canada's ability to undertake and participate in climate and atmospheric projects and initiatives both internationally and at home. A lack of new research funds will also result in the loss of both existing highly skilled personnel in university and government laboratories as well as the next generation of Canadian researchers.
Canada's economic redemption lies in the development and implementation of innovative ideas which in part are developed by highly skilled people supported by the appropriate resources. Experienced scientists in university and government laboratories are working on developing new ideas in technology and training young people for the future. Now is not the time for the evaporation of funds to support meteorology, climate, air quality and Arctic related science. A loss of these disciplines and their associated high quality personnel will leave decision makers and strategists ill-equipped to put Canada on a path to renewed economic prosperity while at the same time developing effective short- and long-term adaptation in emission reduction strategies.
Without new funds, the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences will have to cease research activities which in turn will stop improvements in forecasting Arctic storms, understanding and predicting the melting of the Arctic sea ice and permafrost, understanding and predicting drought in western Canada, understanding and predicting Arctic ozone recovery, and predicting the effects of climate change on northern water resources.
In the recent budget, CFCAS did not receive new funding. Without renewed research funds, the Canadian climate and atmospheric science community is unlikely to stem the loss of existing highly skilled scientists and researchers from university and government laboratories, nor train Canada's next generation of highly skilled people in meteorology, climatology and oceanography.
I can say that this lack of information is one of the great crises facing the earth today. The earth's mean temperature has risen 0.8° since 1880. Most of the increase has occurred in the last 30 years and human activities have been largely responsible. The results on the north are more dramatic than anywhere else in the country. The effects on the northern people, on their food supplies, on their living conditions, and on their culture are dramatic. To cut all this funding for the hundreds of scientists make no sense at all.