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e-3867 (Environment)

Initiated by Erik Schomann from Tiny, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

  • Ancient deposits under the Simcoe Uplands in Ontario’s Tiny, Springwater, Oro-Medonte and Tay townships contain pristine groundwater;
  • First Nations have long used this water in what is now the territory of Beausoleil First Nation of the Ogemawahj Tribal Council and Williams Treaties First Nations;
  • This water is the gold standard for water worldwide, a national and global treasure;
  • A gravel pit in Concession 1 of Tiny Township in the Simcoe Uplands is licensed to take 600,000 tonnes of aggregate annually and 6.6 million litres of water daily for 210 days and wants to expand;
  • Two adjacent pits have licences to take gravel and have applied for 10-year permits to take 1.6 million litres of water daily for washing gravel for 180 days yearly;
  • Ontario legislation applies minimum water quality standards;
  • Federal intervention is urgently needed to protect this exceptional water;
  • Removing vegetation, topsoil, sand and aggregate threatens this natural filtration system;
  • Leading Canadian experts propose a five-year study into how this purity is created and maintained; and
  • Research could help identify exceptional water worldwide and isolate natural features useful in purification systems.
We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to work under, but not limit itself to, the Canada Water Act to protect the pristine waters of the Simcoe Uplands in Ontario so that research may proceed, and these waters be preserved forever.

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 wellbeing of Canadians, the health and sustainability of the environment, and to the economy. Freshwater sustains life on earth – it supplies drinking water, grows food, and supports ecosystems. It is also sacred to many Indigenous peoples, a source of life that plays a central role in Indigenous cultures, ceremonial practices, governance, welfare, and societies. The Government of Canada is committed to safeguarding our country’s freshwater resources, including groundwater resources, for current and future generations. Freshwater management in Canada is a responsibility shared by federal, provincial and territorial governments, as well as many other partners.

The federal government derives its jurisdictional responsibilities for transboundary and boundary waters from Canada’s Constitution. Under the Constitution Act (1867), while the provinces are "owners" of the water resources and have wide responsibilities in their day-to-day management, the federal government has specific responsibilities relating to water such as fisheries and navigation, as well as exercising overall responsibilities such as the conduct of external affairs relating to transboundary waters. The federal government has an obligation to prevent pollution of boundary waters and waters flowing across the boundary between Canada and the United States.

Various other federal legislative instruments provide the Government of Canada with authorities to address freshwater issues across the country, such as:

  • Canada Water Act (1985): provides for the management of water resources in Canada including research as well as the planning and implementation of programs relating to the conservation, development and utilization of water resources; provides an enabling framework for collaboration among the federal and provincial / territorial governments in matters relating to water resources; and, prohibits the deposit of waste of any type in any waters composing a water quality management area designated under the Act, or in any place under any conditions where the waste may enter any such waters.
  • Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA): focuses on the prevention of pollution as well as the protection of the environment (including water) and human health in order to contribute to sustainable development; and, regulates many of the substances that have a deleterious effect on the environment including aquatic ecosystems.
  • Fisheries Act, 2019: provides the Department of Fisheries and Oceans with clear mandates to restore lost protections, prioritize rebuilding fish populations and incorporate modern safeguards so that fish and fish habitat are protected for future generations and Canada's fisheries can continue to grow the economy and sustain coastal communities.

The Government of Canada works collaboratively with other governmental and nongovernmental partners to protect water quality and ecosystem health through established partnerships, such as the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, and instruments focused on the protection of major transboundary waters of concern, such as the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health.

Water also features prominently in the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change’s mandate letter from the Prime Minister. The Minister has been asked, with the support of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, to establish a Canada Water Agency and implement 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.

Creating the Canada Water Agency presents a unique opportunity for Canada to work with provinces, territories, Indigenous peoples, local authorities, scientists and others to strengthen collaboration, and find the best ways to keep our water safe, clean and well-managed, while also respecting the jurisdictions of other governments. The federal government is currently developing options for the proposed Canada Water Agency. The identification of freshwater priorities and creation of the Agency has been the subject of engagement with provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and the public. Priorities highlighted in consultations included: climate adaptation, enhanced coordination / improved governance of federal freshwater activities, science, data, and advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

The Government of Canada’s commitment to freshwater was most recently demonstrated through Budget 2022, which included $88.1 million over five years in new funding to advance the federal freshwater agenda. This includes resources to stand up a Canada Water Agency by the end of 2022, sustain action under the Freshwater Action Plan for an additional year to clean up major lakes and river systems, and support cutting edge science and research at the Experimental Lakes Area in Northern Ontario. Following the establishment of a Canada Water Agency, the Government of Canada has committed to advance the modernization of the Canada Water Act to reflect Canada’s freshwater reality, including climate change and Indigenous rights.

When it comes to the protection of groundwater in Ontario’s Tiny, Springwater, Oro-Medonte and Tay townships, the Province of Ontario has primary authority related to the siting and permitting of open-pit mining operations, along with groundwater management and source water protection. Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks can be contacted to provide further information.

Open for signature
March 2, 2022, at 12:37 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
June 30, 2022, at 12:37 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Adam Chambers (Simcoe North)
October 6, 2022 (Petition No. 441-00748)
Government response tabled
November 21, 2022
Photo - Adam Chambers
Simcoe North
Conservative Caucus