The Canada Centre for Inland Waters (CCIW) opened in 1972 with a research mandate to focus on the Great Lakes and to provide science to guide the restoration of the Hamilton Harbour.
The Hamilton Spectator reports, “The centre was intended to be Canada’s flagship headquarters for fresh water management, a 54,000-square-foot complex of six interconnected buildings with more than 520 federal employees… Now it’s estimated there are closer to 350. …According to the union that represents scientists in the federal government — the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada — there are nearly 25 fewer scientists at the CCIW than in 2010.”
And along with the layoffs and downsizing, “many of the scientists who remain have been reassigned to study Alberta’s oilsands instead of the Great Lakes or Hamilton Harbour.”
“Lynda Lukasik says, ‘It’s a travesty that we are losing that expertise at the CCIW … to me it is frightening that we have a federal government bent on decimating this store of expertise.’ She says ‘ongoing stewardship of our watershed is essential … We can’t dust off our hands and walk away to go on to something else. New problems are always going to emerge.'”
“Conservative MP Mike Wallace (Burlington), whose riding takes in the CCIW, says the decline in staffing at the facility ‘is not a new phenomenon.’ …More recent cuts at the CCIW can be explained, he said, as being part of general cost-saving measures throughout the public service. The 2012 federal budget called for $5.2 billion in cuts and the elimination of 19,000 jobs.”
The main departments at the CCIW are Environment Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
The Council of Canadians recognizes the important role the CCIW plays to provide science to protect the Great Lakes and calls on the Harper government to stop its attack on this important institution. In January 2013, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow wrote, “Deep government cuts to federal departments and agencies responsible for protecting the environment threaten science, the environment and public health. Cuts include: …Environment Canada, which made deep cuts to staff at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters, the most important scientific monitoring agency for the imperilled Great Lakes…”
We will be holding our annual general meeting and conference in Hamilton this October 3-5 and will draw further attention to this issue.