Budget 2023 matters. The opportunity to shift federal government water policy doesn't come often and we need to take advantage of these policy windows when they occur. This window has been open since about 2020 and Budget 2023 represents an important milestone! Through this budget, the federal government is showing the kind of leadership needed to tackle our present day water challenges, especially in the face of climate change. It’s the type of policy shift that countless water leaders have been advocating for through many collective actions—the very first water focused Days on the Hill, publishing op-eds (such as our latest one), and attending countless meetings with MPs, political staff and public officials.
Specifically, this budget confirms that a standalone Canada Water Agency is going to be created. "Standalone" is essential because it signals a whole-of-government approach with a dedicated mandate to support healthy waters across the country. The government committed to introducing the legislation required to create this standalone Agency by the end of 2023.
An effective Agency also needs the resources to meaningfully tackle water challenges. The investment of $650 million in the Freshwater Action Plan over 10 years is significant, especially the $420 million being allocated to the Great Lakes. However, this leaves only $230 million for the rest of the country, which will get stretched thin quickly. The Canadian Coalition for Healthy Waters has been advocating for a truly historic $1 billion investment over five years in the Freshwater Action Plan. $650 million over 10 years is a good start and we will continue to advocate for more.
Please celebrate this news publicly today! Just as it’s important to advocate for improvement, we also need to publicly celebrate when the government makes good decisions for water health. The more noise we can make as a water community, and the sooner we can make it, the better. To this end, we encourage you to create social media posts, and where you’re able, media releases to share this news.
Of course, there’s still much to do. We will continue to advocate for an effective Canada Water Agency as it’s set up, and for a truly historic investment of $1 billion over five years. There’s also the 50 year old Canada Water Act which is in need of renewal. But, for this moment, we want to celebrate the federal government showing this leadership and all the work the water community across the country has done supporting healthy waters. Cheers to water health and a good Budget 2023 for water!