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Upcoming Negotiations for a New Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem

For over 40 years, Canada and Ontario have worked together under a series of agreements to restore, protect and conserve the Great Lakes. Our collaborative efforts have resulted in real progress toward addressing our most serious challenges. Recent examples include:

  • Significant progress made in restoring ecosystem health in Areas of Concern (AOCs). AOCs are areas of significant environmental degradation in the Great Lakes. The Wheatley Harbour AOC was de-listed in 2010, which means that the goals identified in the remedial action plan for this area were achieved. In addition, the Jackfish Bay AOC was re-designated to an Area in Recovery (AIR) in 2011. An AIR is an area where all required remedial actions have been taken, but time is needed for the ecosystem to recover. Most recently, in May 2012, a contaminated sediment remediation project was initiated in the Peninsula Harbour AOC.

  • The use and release of persistent toxic substances into the Great Lakes has been greatly reduced. Lower concentrations of these chemicals have allowed populations of sentinel species such as the Sturgeon, Bald Eagle and Osprey to re-establish around the Great Lakes.

  • Thousands of projects have been undertaken that support wildlife habitat rehabilitation. Through these projects, over 800 kilometers of riparian stream habitat has been rehabilitated, 3,600 hectares of shoreline habitat and wetlands have been restored, and more than 20,000 hectares of forest and prairie/meadow habitat has been protected or restored.

  • Major sewage infrastructure improvements have been made in the Great Lakes Basin. Recent examples include projects located in Red Rock, Owen Sound, South Dundas, Cornwall, Nipigon, Kirkland Lake, Hamilton, the Halton Region, and the Regions of York and Durham.

Environment Canada is proud of the progress which has been made toward addressing environmental challenges in the Great Lakes and to meeting Canada’s obligations under the Canada‑United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA).

Over the coming months, the governments of Canada and Ontario will negotiate a new COA. This new COA will set out the action plan for federal and provincial governments to work cooperatively toward the achievement of shared goals. Canada’s intention to begin negotiations is reflected in a recent letter from the Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of Environment, to the Honourable Jim Bradley, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment.

The Government of Canada looks forward to working with Ontario to meaningfully engage and involve the Great Lakes community in the development of a new COA. COA negotiations will be further informed by findings and recommendations from a review of the Agreement completed in 2009.

Should you have any questions or comments about the upcoming COA negotiations, please submit them to the Great Lakes Environment Office, Environment Canada at

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