Freshwater Future Canada Blog

Freshwater Canada Weekly – August 20, 2020

This week: Flint Children Beneficiaries of Legal Settlement + New York’s Environmental Justice Communities Eligible for New Water Infrastructure Project Financial Incentives + The 2020 Water Is Life Festival Goes Virtual Sept 5 and 6th + The Great Waterspout Outbreak of 2020 + Show Your Lake Erie Love on Social Media, August 26th with #WeAreLakeErie + Fall Project Grants Due September 30!

Flint Children Beneficiaries of Legal Settlement

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office announced the Flint Water Crisis victims will receive an anticipated $600 million settlement from the State of Michigan. The funds will be primarily directed to Flint children harmed from the exposure of lead contaminated water. While Freshwater Future is happy to see that some responsibility is being taken by the state, we know that this will not make Flint residents whole, and we will support their efforts to ensure the needed resources become available.

New York’s Environmental Justice Communities Eligible for New Water Infrastructure Project Financial Incentives

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced changes to New Yorks’ financing tools giving priority to water infrastructure projects that provide critical financial assistance to disproportionately affected low-income and disadvantaged communities that have historically faced some of the worst environmental impacts from years of neglect and disinvestment. New York’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund will provide zero- and low- interest loan incentives to support critical water infrastructure that protect the environment and public health.

The 2020 Water Is Life Festival Goes Virtual Sept 5 and 6th

The Annual Water is Life Festival celebrates our connection to the water and builds power through community to protect water resources. This year’s live-stream event encompasses music, art, youth activities, as well as poignant discussions on water equity. The Water is Life Festival is free-of-charge and open to the public. For event information and to register, visit their info page. 

The Great Waterspout Outbreak of 2020

Great Lakes water temperatures have climbed high under the scorching sun this summer. Recent cold fronts that have passed over these warm waters in conjunction with changing wind direction resulted in a massive waterspout outbreak.  During the week of August 10, 84 waterspouts were spotted around the Great Lakes, crushing the previous record in 2013 at 67. 

Show Your Lake Erie Love on Social Media, August 26th with #WeAreLakeErie 

As western Lake Erie continues to be plagued by annual—and sometimes toxic—algal blooms, Ontarians and Americans are being asked to join in a social media rallying cry for urgent action to protect the lake and, along with it, drinking water for millions of people. People can participate in this 4th annual social media event by sharing Lake Erie stories and photos on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook with the hashtag #WeAreLakeErie to help create a virtual wave of support for the lake to demonstrate to decision-makers the important role the lake plays in the lives of so many people. The event was created in 2017 by three Canadian environmental organizations: Environmental Defence Canada, Canadian Freshwater Alliance, and Freshwater Future Canada. Anyone who participates will be entered into a draw to win a custom “I Love My Lake” tee.

Fall Project Grants Due September 30! 

For 25 years, Freshwater Future has provided grants to community and grassroots groups supporting advocacy efforts to protect or improve drinking water, rivers, lakes, wetlands, shorelines, and groundwater in the Great Lakes region.  Check-out Freshwater Future’s 2020 grant opportunities guidelines to see if your organization is eligible.  Visit our website for additional information:

Grant Opportunity!

Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk is offering funding for projects that help the recovery of aquatic species at risk. Information on the objective of the Fund, proposal criteria, and how to apply here.

ESA Review Comment

In January, the Government of Ontario initiated a review of the province’s Endangered Species Act (ESA). The stated intent of the review is to “improve protections for species at risk, consider modern and innovative approaches to achieve positive outcomes for species at risk, as well as to look for ways to streamline approvals and provide clarity to support economic development.” However, the government’s discussion paper on the review [LINK to:  ERO #013-4143 Review of the Endangered Species Act, 2007] seems to place  much more emphasis on streamlining approvals and providing clarity for economic development than on the core purpose of the legislation, which is to identify species at risk, protect endangered species and their habitats, and promote strategies and stewardship activities that advance species recovery.
The review, which is framed as a response to “barriers to economic development” associated with the ESA, includes a number of troubling options that could undermine the very cornerstones of the law, including listing of species based on science (including Indigenous Traditional Knowledge), mandatory habitat protection, and legislated timelines for planning and reporting. Freshwater Future is one of over 35 organizations endorsing a formal submission to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks on the ESA discussion paper developed by Ontario Nature, the David Suzuki Foundation, and Environmental Defence. We believe the recommendations outlined in the submission will be critical to ensuring the protection and recovery of species at risk and the habitats and aquatic ecosystems they depend on to thrive and survive. You can read the full comment here.

New Advocacy Rules for Charities: Limits on (non-partisan) Political Activities Lifted

The Canadian federal government has proposed new rules for charitable policy advocacy. These rules would allow charities to engage in public policy dialogue and development activities without limitation as long as it furthers the organization’s charitable purposes. Policy advocacy groups will probably not be able to become charities, but the definition of charitable organizations would include groups where some or all of their activities are public policy dialogue and development activities for charitable purposes. This means non-partisan political activity restrictions will be lifted for charitable organizations. Here is a break down of the new rules and what they could mean for your charity.

Public Policy Dialogue and Development Activites will have to further an organization’s charitable purpose not a political one.

Public Policy Dialogue and Development Activities (PPDDAs) further a charitable purpose if:

  • The PPDDAs relate to the stated charitable purpose
  • The PPDDAs will benefit the public

What is a charitable purpose?

A charitable purpose must meet the following three criteria under the Canadian policy statement CG-027

  • The purpose appears in the charities governing documents
  • The purpose benefits the public
  • The purpose falls within one of these four categories
    • Relief of poverty
    • Advancement of education
    • Advancement of religion
    • Other benefits to the community: protect the environment, uphold human rights, promote health ect. (see Annex A for a more complete list)

Partisan activities are still prohibited, including supporting or opposing a political party or candidate.

Under the Income Tax Act a charity may agree or disagree with a decision but may not support or oppose any candidate or party for public office. A charities communication should focus on the policy issue and not refer to any candidate or political party

You can read more about the draft administrative guidance here. And provide feedback to the Canada Revenue Agency until April 23rd here.

Press Release: Launch of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Collaborative Strategy

Panel of Experts to Investigate Protection of the
Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River

Stakeholder-Led Collaborative Strategy receives federal funding

Toronto, ON, Friday, October 26, 2018 – Today, an independent panel with experts from across the Canadian portion of the Great Lakes and along the St. Lawrence River held its first meeting, launching an 18-month process to develop recommendations for all governments to safeguard Canada’s greatest reserve of freshwater and the St. Lawrence River estuary.

The Expert Panel will be co-chaired by two former provincial environmental commissioners of Ontario and Quebec respectively, Mr. Gord Miller and M. Jean Cinq-Mars. The independent panel will be advised by Indigenous organisations, stakeholders representing a cross section of industrial, agricultural, maritime, municipal, recreational, fishery and environmental interests, and other academic and scientific experts.

Environment and Climate Change Canada is providing $400,000 to fund the initiative. The outcome of the process will be a Collaborative Strategy for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, proposing new and innovative approaches to protection efforts and better alignment of government science, programs and investments. The recommendations will be submitted to the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and shared with provincial counterparts, indigenous and municipal leaders, and the broader community in the Region.

The Collaborative Strategy, which has been championed and organized by the Council of the Great Lakes Region, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities InitiativeFreshwater Future CanadaStrategies Saint Laurent and Great Lakes Fishery Commission, will focus on four key challenges:

  1. Climate Change
  2. Toxics and other harmful pollutants
  3. Nutrients
  4. Beaches and bacteriological contaminants

The Strategy will proceed in two phases, beginning first with the Great Lakes and then concluding with the St. Lawrence River.

For more information on the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Collaborative, including a full list of Expert Panel members and Issue Table co-chairs, please go to:


“Protecting our water, air and nature is a priority for our government. Millions of people depend on the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence to sustain the economy, their livelihoods, their health and their wellbeing. This work is essential to protect the environment and grow the economy, and ensure a healthy and prosperous future for our kids and grandkids.”
The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“The Great Lakes, though grand in scale, are sensitive inland aquatic ecosystems. We will work with all those who depend on the lakes to find ways to better care for them.”
Gord Miller, Expert Panel Co-chair

“The St. Lawrence is part of the heritage and fabric of Quebec society. By finding solutions to the most pressing threats to this vital artery we will be better prepared for the future.”
Jean Cinq-Mars, Expert Panel Co-chair

“We hope many voices around the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence regions will join this effort to identify restoration challenges and needs, increase investment, and strengthen protection of the inland waters on which so many of us, and so many species, depend.”
Bob Lambe, Executive Secretary of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission

“The Great Lakes Regional Collaborative and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in the United States has shown what can be achieved when all levels of government work alongside industry, academia and the nonprofit sector to advance common environmental goals in the Great Lakes by leveraging programs and investments. It’s time Canadian governments and stakeholders come together like never before to find new ways of tackling a range of complex issues, especially the impacts of unabated climate change.”
Mark Fisher, CEO of the Council of the Great Lakes Region

“The Mayors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative are pleased to be part of this Collaboration. We look forward to discussing new innovative approaches to protect these vital freshwater treasures, now and in the future.”
John Dickert, President and CEO, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative

“This initiative presents a unique opportunity to mobilize diverse expertise to protect and restore the health of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. It holds great potential for new partnerships among governments, environmental organizations and business and industry, and for increased investments to address the increasingly complex challenges we are facing across the region.”
Tony Maas, Manager of Strategy, Freshwater Future Canada

“The Collaborative will allow us to establish priorities to address transboundary challenges, to propose new initiatives that build on existing measures, as well as to identify additional financial resources to support essential programs like the Areas of Prime Concern (ZIP) Program along the St. Lawrence.”
Jacques Durocher, President, Stratégies Saint-Laurent

Media contact:

Nicola Crawhall, GLSL Collaborative Strategy Secretariat
Tel: 416-407-5880
Email: [email protected]com