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Liberal government would commit millions to help ‘stressed’ Lake Winnipeg

The Liberals are pledging to create a Canada Water Agency, modernize the Canada Water Act and provide $1 billion over the next ten years to protect and restore large lakes and river systems, among other things, including supporting the second and third phases of Winnipeg's North End Treatment Plant upgrades. Global News

Liberal members of Parliament up for re-election in their Winnipeg ridings say a Liberal government will commit substantial funding increases to protect Manitoba’s freshwater resources, including the Lake Winnipeg basin.

Terry Duguid, the Liberal candidate for Winnipeg South, was at The Forks Thursday morning for the announcement.

He said a re-elected Liberal government would focus on four key projects:

  • Creating a Canada Water Agency next year to tackle the droughts and floods exacerbated by climate change
  • Modernizing the Canada Water Act
  • Providing $1 billion over the next ten years to protect and restore large lakes and river systems
  • Supporting the International Institute for Sustainable Development’s research at the Experimental Lakes Area with $37.5 million over six years.

They’re commitments Duguid called “good news for a lake that is one of the most stressed in North America and the world.”

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Read more: Feds, province team up for work on improving quality of Lake Winnipeg

The $1-billion funding would mark an increase of $100 million a year, he said, up from its previous commitment of $70 million over five years for the Great Lakes and the Winnipeg basin.

Duguid said more details surrounding the sum allotted for the Lake Winnipeg basin specifically would come with the next budget, but annually, it would amount to four or five times more than previous years.

Duguid also said a Liberal government would support the second and third phases of upgrades to Winnipeg’s North End Sewage Treatment Plant — in addition to the first one to which it’s already provided more than $116 million — to reduce the amount of phosphorus that ends up in the lake and contributes to toxic algae blooms.

“We’ve stepped up on Phase 1. We’ve committed to stepping up on Phase 2 and Phase 3,” he said.

“We’ve just got to get it done because Lake Winnipeg can’t wait.”

Read more: Canada election: Complete list of promises made during the 2021 campaign

The news comes a day after the Liberal Party unveiled its 2021 election platform and as support for the party wanes behind the Conservatives, according to recent polls.

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On Wednesday, the Conservative Party said if elected, a Conservative government will support upgrades to the North End Sewage Treatment Plant, along with the Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin Outlet Channels Project to minimize the risk of flooding and protect the communities surrounding the lakes, although the party didn’t specify how much it would commit.

“These projects will ensure that Manitoba has the modern infrastructure needed to keep people and goods moving, meet the needs of growing communities,” Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said in a news release.

But under Conservative leadership, Duguid said, O’Toole would only maintain the status quo when it comes to Canada’s freshwater program.

“That really is in my view going backwards and not keeping with the times and not meeting the scale of our challenge with freshwater,” he said.

“Ask any farmer. Ask the folks in Morden who have no water, and they will tell you that there’s a water crisis in this country and we need to address it.”

Meanwhile, the NDP have outlined a number of environmental commitments in their election platform, including protecting 30 per cent of freshwater, land and oceans by 2030, in addition to implementing a national freshwater strategy and reducing emissions from fishing and shipping.

Click to play video: 'Feds, province team up for work on improving quality of Lake Winnipeg' Feds, province team up for work on improving quality of Lake Winnipeg
Feds, province team up for work on improving quality of Lake Winnipeg – Aug 12, 2021

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