Since the Canadian Coalition for Healthy Waters (CCHW) took shape last year, it has been making a real impact through federal advocacy for freshwater health! Now at 56 members, the CCHW is setting the stage to advocate for policy change.
In mid-January, the CCHW sent a letter with 31 signatures from Coalition members to Minister Guilbeault outlining three asks and requesting a meeting. Knowing a letter is only the first step, members continued advocating for that meeting to happen. As a result, the CCHW not only met with the Minister in mid March, but also with Parliamentary Secretary Terry Duguid and staff within the Environmental Minister’s Office who are working on the water file through a series of additional meetings.
These are great starting points! The Coalition knows from these conversations that the government is aware of the CCHW’s three asks and that these asks are all within the ECCC Minister’s Mandate Letter in some form.
However, having the CCHW’s asks in a Mandate Letter, while good, doesn’t make them reality. This is especially true seeing the signals from the recent Budget where funding for water is much less than promised. As such, the CCHW is continuing to foster ongoing connection points with the government, and making plans on how best to respond to a disappointing Budget. The Coalition also needs to be an active champion of these asks by creating the material to bring them to life and make them easier for the government to implement. To that end, the Coalition has finalized the CCHW policy position on building the Canada Water Agency as well as its policy position on renewing the Canada Water Act. The Coalition approached these policy positions with balance in mind. The team made them detailed enough that they have substance, while also keeping them high-level enough so that individual CCHW members have the room to advocate for their own priority issues and/or issues relevant to the waters within their geographic area.
So, what’s next? These policy positions will provide a needed ‘north star’ to aim for, but the documents are too long for key decision makers. As a result, the Coalition is now working on short briefing notes to complement these documents. At the same time, the CCHW is also reaching out to key decision makers and staff in the Minister’s Office and within ECCC to continue its advocacy. More to come!