The Winnipeg Free Press reports, “Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is trying to play the role of the white knight for Canada’s Experimental Lakes Area but the program isn’t ready to reopen for business just yet. Wynne announced Wednesday Ontario is working with Ottawa, Manitoba and the Winnipeg-based International Institute for Sustainable Development to keep the world-renowned research facility operating.”
“There is no deal yet but the negotiations would see Ontario take over some of the $2-million annual operating funding and the IISD take over the day-to-day operations from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. …’We are prepared to put money into this’, she said. …There are still matters being discussed, such as who will pay for what, including capital, said Wynne.”
“But so far, Ontario is the only party willing to put money on the table. …Manitoba believes the only way to save the program is if Ottawa is still at the table with some funding. ‘We know that it’s not only important research for Lake Winnipeg, it’s important research for all of Canada’, said Premier Greg Selinger. …He refused to commit dollars from Manitoba at this point, saying both Manitoba and Ontario are still seeking ‘a substantial commitment’ from Ottawa. He wouldn’t speculate on what the two provinces would do if Ottawa continues to refuse to fund the ELA.”
“Save ELA spokeswoman Britt Hall said if the talks can conclude soon, it should mean no research is interrupted. Because of the late spring, no experiments are likely to begin until at least mid-May.”
Yesterday, the Canadian Press reported, “Ottawa announced last year that it was closing the area to save $2 million annually. Provincial officials say that figure represents federal spending on research projects, and the operating costs are $600,000 annually.”
The Council of Canadians thanks Ontario Premier Wynne for her intervention and funding commitment to the ELA, and continues to ask the federal government and Premier Selinger to suport the ELA. In December 2012, the Council of Canadians the Boreal Forest Network wrote to then Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty and Manitoba premier Greg Selinger to ask that each provincial government contribute $1 million annually to the Experimental Lakes Area for a minimum of three years until federal funding could be reinstated after the next federal election. In January 2013, we received a letter from the Government of Manitoba declining our request. But the premier said at that time that he would work to encourage “the Government of Canada to ensure funding for this program”.