Recommendations fail to protect 99% of lakes and rivers in Canada

March 23, 2017
Media Release

99% of lakes and rivers are unprotected

The Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities tabled its recommendations today on the Navigation Protection Act, formerly the Navigable Waters Protection Act. The recommendations fall below what is needed to protect all lakes and rivers in Canada.

“This was an opportunity for the Standing Committee and the Trudeau government to show leadership on water protection, and it is deeply disappointing that they have failed to do so,” says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “Freshwater protections are crucial to upholding the human right to water. Without protections for all lakes and rivers, Trudeau’s election promises ring hollow.”

The Standing Committee’s report recommends that protections be kept off of 99 per cent of waterways, which had protections removed by the previous government. While the report recommends that the federal government “rapidly improve the process of adding waterways” to the scant list of protected lakes and rivers, these recommendations put the onus on the public to protect lakes and rivers in their communities and in some cases give the government power to deny protections.

“The federal government should immediately restore protections on all lakes and rivers and then consult with communities on how to strengthen the act. The federal government is obligated to obtain free, prior and informed consent under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” says Emma Lui, water campaigner for the Council of Canadians. “Our only hope now lies with communities that will defend local water sources for their children and grandchildren.”

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