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441-01138 (Environment)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons in Parliament Assembled


  • Irresponsible practices by industry and multi-national corporations have led to the destruction and denigration of much of Canada's waterways and watersheds;
  • Current laws do not sufficiently protect Canada's waterways and watersheds from such irresponsible practices; and
  • Protecting waterways and watersheds also protects Canada's forests, fisheries, land, and air.

We, the undersigned citizens and residents of Canada call upon the House of Commons in Parliament assembled to:

  • Update Canada's water laws to ensure that no industry or corporation takes precedence over the health of Canada's waterways and watersheds, and by extension the health of the country's people, species, and land; and
  • Ensure Canada's water laws are updated under the guidance of professionals and specialists in the field of water conservation.

Response by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable STEVEN GUILBEAULT

A clean and safe freshwater supply is essential to the well-being of Canadians, the health and sustainability of the environment, and the economy. Hence, the Government of Canada has committed to:

  • establishing a federal Canada Water Agency to work with the provinces, territories, Indigenous communities, and other stakeholders to find the best ways to keep Canada’s water safe, clean, and well-managed;
  • implementing a strengthened Freshwater Action Plan, including a historic investment to provide funding to protect and restore large lakes and river systems starting with the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River System, Lake Simcoe, the Lake Winnipeg Basin, the Fraser River Basin and the Mackenzie River Basin;
  • investing in the Experimental Lakes Area in northern Ontario to support international freshwater science and research; and
  • following the establishment of a Canada Water Agency, advancing the modernization of the Canada Water Act to reflect Canada’s freshwater reality including climate change and Indigenous rights.

To advance these commitments, Budget 2022 proposed to provide $88.1 million over 5 years in new funding for Environment and Climate Change Canada, which included:

  • $43.5 million over five years, starting in 2022-23, and $8.7 million ongoing to create the new Canada Water Agency.
  • $19.6 million in 2022-2023 to sustain the Freshwater Action Plan. This funding will support clean-up efforts in the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River, Lake Winnipeg, Lake of the Woods, the Fraser River, the Saint John River, the Mackenzie River, and Lake Simcoe. The future of this initiative will be communicated at a later date.
  • $25.0 million over five years, starting in 2022-2023, for the Experimental Lakes Area in northern Ontario to support international freshwater science and research.

Another way that the Government of Canada protects and conserves Canada’s water resources is by administering laws that control pollution such as the Fisheries Act.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is the lead department responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Fisheries Act pollution prevention provisions (except for their application to aquaculture and the control and eradication of aquatic invasive species and aquatic pests, which are under the responsibility of the Department of Fisheries and Ocean). Subsection 36(3) prohibits the deposit of any deleterious substances in water frequented by fish or to any place where it may enter water frequented by fish, unless authorized by federal regulations. Deleterious substances include any substance that, if added to water, would degrade, alter or form part of a process of degradation or alteration of the quality of water so that it is rendered deleterious to fish or fish habitat or to the use of fish by humans. 

Any regulations developed under section 36 set strict requirements on deposits to water. These regulations can impose conditions such as limits on the maximum quantities of deleterious substances released into water, and can include environmental effects monitoring and other reporting requirements for facilities. Modern Fisheries Act regulations include the Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulations, the Pulp and Paper Effluent Regulations, and the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations.

Environment and Climate Change Canada is developing proposed regulations to address deposits to water from coal mining and is investigating risk management approaches for tailings ponds from oil sands operations.

To learn more about these proposed regulations, as well as upcoming improvements to existing regulations, please consult the Fisheries Act Forward Regulatory Plan 2022-2024 available at

Environment and Climate Change Canada enforces the subsection 36(3) prohibition, as well as regulations under the Fisheries Act according to the Compliance and Enforcement Policy for Habitat Protection and Pollution Prevention Provisions of the Fisheries Act:

Presented to the House of Commons
Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
February 13, 2023 (Petition No. 441-01138)
Government response tabled
March 29, 2023
Photo - Elizabeth May
Saanich—Gulf Islands
Green Party Caucus
British Columbia

30 signatures

Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.