ANDREW BUTTIGIEG,
Office of Minister of the Environment,
Conservation and Parks

Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, issued the following statement, following a virtual meeting of the Great Lakes Guardians’ Council today, co-chaired by Glen Hare, Grand Council Chief of the Anishinabek Nation.


“The sixth meeting of the Great Lakes Guardians’ Council was an opportunity for Grand Council Chief Glen Hare and I to hear from leaders and experts from across Ontario, including: First Nations and Métis communities, environmental organizations, and the science community, on ways to safeguard the world’s largest freshwater lake system.


Ninety-nine percent of Ontarians live in the Great Lakes basin, so it is vital we focus our collective efforts on protecting these valuable water resources, by reducing plastic pollution, improving water quality and supporting healthy shorelines.


It was especially fitting the Council met today, which is both Earth Day and Great Lakes Day. Protecting and restoring the Great Lakes is a key commitment in the government’s Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan.


Each year, Ontario invests approximately $14 million in protection and restoration projects such as the Great Lakes Local Action Fund and the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup. The province is also partnering with the federal government, to finalize the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health.


In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also investing $12 million in a new initiative, to detect the COVID virus in wastewater, which will enhance the ability of local public health units to identify, monitor and manage potential outbreaks.


I’d like to thank everyone who participated in the sixth meeting of the Great Lakes Guardians’ Council, especially: co-chair Grand Council Chief Hare, Great Lakes partners Anishinabek Nation Chief Water Commissioner Autumn Peltier, Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald of Chiefs of Ontario, as well as representatives from Ducks Unlimited Canada, Federation of Ontario Cottagers, Pollution Probe, the Council of Great Lakes Region and Swim Drink Fish.


It is through collaborations like this Council we can share ideas and build partnerships which make it possible to continue making important progress on our commitments to ensure the Great Lakes can be enjoyed today and for generations to come.”