New Canada Water Agency to provide solutions for emerging water crisis—expert panel

The new Canada Water Agency—a mandated commitment of the federal government—will provide much-needed solutions to the emerging water crisis, according to Tom Axworthy, chair of a national water policy panel organized by Global Water Futures (GWF) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask).

“The pandemic has shown us what is possible when we work together to protect the health of Canadians,” said Axworthy, public policy chair at Toronto’s Massey College and former principal secretary to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
“Similarly, we need to work together to address water security challenges that have been underscored by climate change impacts in communities across Canada. Water-related natural disasters such as floods and fires have cost Canadians $28 billion between 2000 and 2017 alone.”
In mandate letters last December, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on the ministers of the departments of Environment and Climate Change and Agriculture and Agri-Food to create the new agency to “work together with the provinces, territories, Indigenous communities, local authorities, scientists, and others to find the best ways to keep our water safe, clean and well-managed.”
Axworthy noted that the focus on co-operative federalism in the Canadian constitution—from the British North America Act to its current form—has paved the way for a Canada Water Agency, which he said is critically important in the face of water security challenges that transcend national boundaries.
He pointed out that the multi-faceted issue of water security is spread out across more 20 departments in the federal government alone. The Canada Water Agency, he said, could begin to address this siloed approach “to protect and manage our freshwater for generations to come.”
The May 13 online national panel discussion, involving more than 650 scientists and water management professionals, marked the start of a series of national and regional discussions though the USask-led Global Water Futures program. Recommendations from these consultations are expected to inform the development of the new agency.

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Additional article from Environmental Science and Engineering Magazine is available here.