Ontario’s Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Rod Phillips issued the following statement on June 16, 2019 at the conclusion of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors’ and Premiers’ 2019 Leadership Summit:
“Over the past several days, I had the privilege to meet with leaders from neighbouring Great Lakes states and other jurisdictions to discuss how we can work with each other and our respective federal partners to protect and restore the Great Lakes while also growing the region’s economy.
This included joint meetings I had with the other heads of delegation from several U.S. Great Lakes states and Québec as well as bilateral meetings with New York, Québec, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
The Great Lakes, along with our inland waterways, are the life support system for our province and our people. They are the foundation of Ontario’s prosperity and wellbeing – supplying water to our communities, supporting Ontario’s economy, and providing healthy ecosystems that support recreation and tourism as well as biodiversity and fisheries. I’m certain the same can be said by our neighbouring Great Lakes states and Québec.
At the summit, we agreed to several important actions to both grow our economy and protect the world’s greatest freshwater system, including addressing drinking water contaminants like lead and perfluoroalkyl substances, stopping Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes and reaffirming our commitment along with Ohio and Michigan to reduce the amount of phosphorus entering Lake Erie’s Western Basin by 40 per cent by 2025.
Now more than ever, summits such as this one are of crucial importance because we know our water resources, including the Great Lakes, are facing many pressures, such as climate change, pollution, and urban growth.
This is why Ontario proposed a number of important actions in our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan to restore and protect our Great Lakes. Many of these actions focus on partnerships and dialogue with our partners, such as continuing negotiations with the federal government for a new Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health and continuing partnerships with the federal government and others to implement the Canada-Ontario Lake Erie Action Plan. We will also be reviewing and updating Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy.
We all have a role to play in protecting this valuable shared resource. I look forward to upcoming Great Lakes meetings where Ontario can continue strengthening relationships with other jurisdictions and working collaboratively to grow our economy and protect the Great Lakes.”