Windsor

MP calls for national strategy to protect Canada's freshwater

NDP MP Tracey Ramsey grew up on the water's edge in Essex County — and her love for the water has her pushing for a national strategy to protect freshwater across the country. 

The existing freshwater strategies haven't been updated since 1987

Local MP Tracey Ramsey her private member's bill is coming at a "critical time." (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

NDP MP Tracey Ramsey grew up on the water's edge in Essex County — and her love for the water has her pushing for a national strategy to protect freshwater across the country. 

According to Ramsey, the freshwater policies that currently exist haven't been updated since 1987 — too long, in her opinion. 

Ramsey detailed her private member's bill Wednesday at the Freshwater Restoration Ecology Centre in LaSalle. 

"This is one of the groups locally doing incredible work to protect species, ecosystem and the biodiversity that we enjoy here," said Ramsey about the centre. 

"We're surrounded by water. Globally, water scarcity is becoming a bigger issue."

According to Ramsey, her private member's bill is coming at a "critical time."

"This is something I think our communities take for granted," said Ramsey. "How can we protect the freshwater that we have?"

The bill asks for Catherine McKenna, minister of environment and climate change, to renew and adopt a national freshwater strategy, including established drinking water standards to stop boil water advisories which have existed on First Nations reserves for years.

"It's critically important that we take the time to create a strategy and not just have this piecemeal approach," said Ramsey. "We have a lot of ocean protections in place but not a lot around freshwater."

The bill also looks at infrastructure systems surrounding Canada's freshwater, and the ability to adapt to rapid climate changes, causing species to disappear, algal blooms and the introduction of invasive species. 

"A lot of people who live on the lake are questioning constantly the rise and fall of the lake," said Ramsey. "How do we address that issue so we don't have flooding? I think the people locally pay attention to what's happening with the water."

Ramsey said the bill has support from Trevor Pitcher, executive director at the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, as well as environmental groups across the country.

"How lucky are we that we grow up on the shores of this beautiful water?" asked Ramsey. "It's hard not to love the water in our region."

With files from Stacey Janzer

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