WINNIPEG, MB – Fresh water is a vital resource that is facing pressing challenges. To ensure that fresh water in Canada is clean and healthy, the Government of Canada is taking unprecedented action by launching the Canada Water Agency and investing $650 million over 10 years in the Freshwater Action Plan to protect and restore water quality and ecosystem health in major watersheds across the country.

“Fresh water sustains life on Earth—it supplies drinking water, grows food, and supports ecosystems,” said the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “Our government is taking action to protect this vital resource. The Freshwater Action Plan is helping to improve water quality by supporting local community-driven projects, greatly contributing to the protection and restoration of Canada’s freshwater quality and ecosystem health.”

Terry Duguid, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Special Advisor for Water, announced that Canadian groups, organizations, and governments with freshwater projects can now apply for funding under five Freshwater Ecosystem Initiatives, including Lake Simcoe, the Wolastoq/Saint John River, the Great Lakes, Lake Winnipeg, and Lake of the Woods. The EcoAction Community Funding Program, which supports freshwater projects across Canada, is also now accepting applications. Led by the Canada Water Agency, these programs support partner-led projects that will have a positive and measurable impact on freshwater quality and support the priorities of Canada’s strengthened Freshwater Action Plan.

“By supporting Canadian groups, organizations, and governments that are working hard to improve freshwater quality across Canada, we are creating strong partnerships that are vital to addressing the many challenges facing freshwater ecosystems and ensuring that Canadians will have access to clean, fresh water for generations to come,” said Duguid.

The Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium and the Manitoba Métis Federation participated in the announcement to highlight their projects currently funded by the Canada Water Agency. The Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium is receiving funding from the Lake Winnipeg Basin Program to support the in-lake science platform, which coordinates monitoring and scientific research activities on Lake Winnipeg. The Manitoba Métis Federation is receiving funding through the EcoAction Community Funding Program to restore and improve aquatic habitats in the Red River Basin, including the restoration of habitat along the Seine River. The Government of Canada will build on the progress made from these initiatives by continuing to invest in projects that protect the country’s treasured watersheds.

Indigenous communities, non-governmental organizations, academic and research institutions, municipalities, and businesses may be eligible to apply. For more information on the call for applications, including eligibility criteria and how to apply for funding, please visit the Funding Programs webpage.

The submission deadline for applications to EcoAction and the Lake Simcoe and Wolastoq/Saint John River Freshwater Ecosystem Initiatives is March 22, 2024.

The call for applications for the Great Lakes, Lake Winnipeg, and Lake of the Woods Freshwater Ecosystem Initiatives opened in December 2023. The submission deadline for these initiatives is February 15, 2024, except for Letters of Intent related to the Lake Erie Precision Conservation.

Quick facts

  • In Budget 2023, the Government of Canada announced major investments in fresh water in Canada, including:
    • $650 million over 10 years to support monitoring, assessment, and restoration work in the Great Lakes, Lake Winnipeg, Lake of the Woods, the Saint Lawrence River, the Fraser River, the Wolastoq/Saint John River, the Mackenzie River, and Lake Simcoe.
      • This includes an investment of $420 million in new funding over 10 years for the Great Lakes, accelerating Canada’s implementation of the Canada–United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
    • $22.6 million over three years to support better coordination of efforts to protect fresh water across Canada.
    • $85.1 million over five years, starting in 2023–2024, and $21 million ongoing thereafter to support the creation of a Canada Water Agency.
  • The new Canada Water Agency is the federal agency focused on fresh water, working in partnership with Indigenous peoples, provinces, territories, and stakeholders to strengthen collaboration. The Agency delivers key elements of the Freshwater Action Plan.


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