Investing in Canada’s Water Security - MP Toolkit

Included in this toolkit:

  • Need to Know Documents
  • What are we asking for?
  • Who are we asking?
  • Setting up a meeting with your MP
  • Tips for meeting with your MP/MLA/MPP
  • Talking points for meeting with your MP
  • What to do after your MP Meeting
  • Other opportunities for action

Need to Know Documents

  1. The Our Living Waters Network's Letter to the Prime Minister with accompanying appendices on our stimulus projects.


What are we asking for?

The Our Living Waters Network is advancing action at the federal level (see our letter to the Prime Minister) by requesting that the Government of Canada immediately:

  1. Allocate $100 million in this fiscal year as part of the short-term green recovery stimulus package to support the shovel-ready and shovel-worthy projects that advance water security across Canada.
  2. Commit an additional $100 million annually for five-years, beginning in 2021, to ensure long-term recovery and support national progress on water security.
  3. We are also inviting MPs to champion support for specific projects in their ridings!

In British Columbia, the Watershed Security Coalition is asking the provincial government to:

  1. Invest in local watershed protection as a stimulus
  2. Establish, immediately, a provincial watershed security trust. 

Does your group have additional provincial, territorial, municipal or First Nations asks? Please let us know and we would be happy to include here.


Who are we asking?

Within the federal government, over the short term, we are looking for specific changes to existing programs that would allow for investment in water security projects. 

Specifically, we are asking:

  1. Environment and Climate Change Canada to:
    • Expand EcoAction funding program with a dedicated water security stream which includes community based water monitoring. 
    • Commit to longer term investment in water security through a specific fund and program administered via the Canada Water Agency.  
  2. Infrastructure Canada to:
    • Recommit, with increased accessibility, to the Disaster, Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF).
    • Enable the Invest in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) to distribute stimulus dollars to strategic natural infrastructure investments over the next 1-3 years.

In British Columbia, we are asking for two key investments in Watershed Security. 

  1. Invest $27 million in immediate recovery projects. Through a comprehensive ‘sector survey’ we determined there is an exciting opportunity for the Province to partner with local governments, First Nations and community organizations to increase prosperity for British Columbians by investing in Watershed Security
  2. Following recovery spending, we are asking for longer-term investment in Watershed Prosperity of $600 million in a “Watershed Security Fund”.


Setting up a meeting with your MP

  1. Find Your MP’s contact information
  2. Determine when Your MP will be in their Riding via the Parliamentary Sitting Calendar. (Dates shaded green are those that the House is sitting. Some MPs may be in Ottawa on these dates though as a result of COVID the House of Commons is holding virtual sittings so your MP will likely be spending much of the next few months in their riding).  
  3. Template Letter to MP. This letter introduces the OLW Blue Stimulus research and requests a meeting to discuss the project.


Tips for meeting with your MP

Preparing for your meeting: 

  • Read up on the “Need to know” documents linked at the top of this toolkit. 
  • Print 2 copies of the letter and appendices to offer take-away material for your MP and their constituency staff (or, given COVID, have the PDF documents ready to send after your meeting)
  • Prepare any materials needed to highlight your local projects. If you would like us to design a feature project page for your project send us a high resolution photo for your project and your organization’s logo and we would be happy to prepare one for you.
  • Convene your meeting team

Be clear on meeting objectives.

  • To highlight the opportunity to invest in local water security while creating important local jobs -- if you can tie the jobs created as transferable to service, tourism jobs lost due to COVID-19 then that would be ideal!
  • To invite local MPs to champion federal support for local projects.
  • To invite MPs to support our requests to the federal government for longer term support for water security initiatives.

Link these objectives to government agendas.

  • Government Mandates that connect to this work (that is, key mandates within Mandate Letters):
    • Use science, indigenous knowledge and local perspectives to advance an ambitious new plan to conserve 25 percent of Canada’s land and 25 percent of Canada’s oceans by 2025;
    • Better protect people and the environment from toxins and other pollution;
    • Create a new Canada Water Agency working together with the provinces, territories, Indigenous communities, local authorities, scientists and others to find the best ways to keep our water safe, clean and well-managed; and
    • Develop further protections and take active steps to clean up the Great Lakes, Lake Winnipeg, Lake Simcoe and other large lakes.
  • Covid-19 Agenda
    • The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action to support Canadians and businesses facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Make sure your presentation is well structured for maximum impact 

  • Tell them what you are going to tell them  
    • Summary of OLW Research (see talking points below) 
    • Overview of local projects
    • Questions for MPs (see list below)
    • Invite their support

Consider the context in which you are communicating  

  • MPs are often bombarded and good at filtering information.  
  • They may not be briefed on the issue and may not act.  
  • Ultimately, they want to avoid controversy and want to keep their jobs. 

Meetings are more than making the case they are also about listening effectively

  • Ask them questions (see our recommendations below) and document questions they may have.
    • Don’t answer what you don’t know but agree to follow-up with additional thoughts, and answers after the meeting. 
    • Send us these questions and we will endeavour to offer some suggested follow-up responses.  
  • Send an email within 24-hours of the meeting to thank them for the meeting. 
    • Follow up on their questions and comments 

Day of your meeting 

  • Arrive 15 minutes ahead (if in person)
  • Turn off phones 
  • Confirm how much time you have 
  • Watch the time / stick to schedule 
  • Keep tone positive and non-partisan 
  • Thank MP for taking the time to meet with you and encourage follow up


Talking Points for your MP Meeting

Key findings from our research: 

  • Read up on the “Need to know” documents.
  • A survey of over 300 water security projects across Canada showed that the sector could offer important job opportunities throughout a COVID-19 recovery timeline.
  • 3,638 jobs were supported across 310 projects, translating to approximately 1.5 million job hours. A total investment of $225 million dollars is needed to support the projects. 
  • Project benefits included a range of outcomes including (feel free to select the project benefits that most resonate in your community): Ecosystem restoration and preservation; Monitoring, knowledge and data; Support for fish populations and habitat; Capacity to sustainably manage water; Supports local decision-making; Flood resilience; and Supporting Indigenous capacity; Tourism and recreation; Supports reconciliation; Climate change mitigation and adaptation; and Public health benefits. 

Who is the Our Living Waters Network?

  • Our Living Waters is a national network of over 100 community representatives and organizations working together towards the goal of all Canada's waters in good health by 2030.
  • The 2030 date aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
  • A robust shared measurement system tracks progress of the sector towards this goal using a number of Network defined impact measures.    
  • OLW is a project on the MakeWay shared platform.

The question of jurisdiction on water may arise. Why the federal focus? 

  • Water security is a key component of green recovery, and the federal government has demonstrated its desire to embed green priorities in its pandemic recovery efforts.
  • Water doesn’t follow municipal or provincial boundaries. Many of the projects on our list span or impact multiple jurisdictions.
  • Water issues are shared across the country, and investments in water health and security benefit all Canadians. There is an opportunity for the federal government to take a leadership role around water solutions, especially in rural and Indigenous communities.

Why is additional federal investment needed? 

  • Existing federal funding streams, such as Infrastructure Canada’s Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, are generally targeted towards large-scale projects
  • Funding for small-scale community-level water projects is often limited to specific regions, such as the Lake Winnipeg Basin.
  • There is a gap of available funds to support smaller community-level projects with budgets between $10,000 to $500,000.

Local connections: 

  • The projects compiled by Our Living Waters will create local jobs, investment, and benefits through supporting community groups and programs.
  • One of the projects in this riding is: (if possible, discuss your project and its benefits).

Questions to ask your MP: 

  • How will you help advance the national conversation about water health, security, and funding?
  • What opportunities do you see for continued engagement with the federal government around funding for water projects?
  • How will you champion water projects in your riding (including this project)?


What to do after your MP Meeting

  • Send a thank you email to your MP.
  • Report back on your findings to us via this handy survey.  
  • Follow up with any additional information you agreed to send along.
  • Recruit other local influencers to meet with MP -- messages resonate more when heard by multiple constituents.


Other Opportunities for Action

  1. Write a blog, Letter to the Editor or OP-ED
    1. Examples and Templates coming soon!
  2. Share project on social media channels or in your e-news (version françaises incluses). Remember to use the hashtag: #ourlivingwaters
    1. Example: Freshwater Alliance Website Twitter Post 
    2. Example: Canadian Environmental Law Association Facebook Post.
Lindsay Telfer
About Lindsay Telfer
Mom, organizer, capacity builder, outdoor enthusiast, justice advocate. Thoughts posted are my own :).
Investing in Canada’s Water Security - MP Toolkit
Investing in Canada’s Water Security - MP Toolkit
Imagine a Canada where all waters are in good health: