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Federal Budget 2023 and Lake Winnipeg

The 2023 federal budget includes dedicated multi-year funding for Canada’s freshwater lakes and rivers as part of a new Freshwater Action Plan – though the total investment for Lake Winnipeg is still not clear.

Released on March 28, Budget 2023 provides $650 million over 10 years for freshwater protection, with funding to support monitoring, assessment and restoration work across eight Canadian watersheds – including Lake Winnipeg’s.

A 10-year commitment is positive news, as multi-year funding will enable the development of a robust, evidence-based program to generate tangible results for Lake Winnipeg. However, the $650 million announced as part of Budget 2023 is only 65 per cent of the $1 billion freshwater investment first promised in 2021.

How much of this total funding will be allocated to the federal Lake Winnipeg Basin Program is not yet known. As a next step, we’ll be reaching out to Environment and Climate Change Canada to find out exactly what portion of the freshwater funding announced in Budget 2023 will support regional initiatives to protect Lake Winnipeg.

We’ll also be working to ensure federal support for Lake Winnipeg is invested for greatest impact.

We’re calling for a funding program that uses evidence to target phosphorus-reduction projects in phosphorus hotspots, supports Indigenous peoples in reclaiming and restoring their relationship with water, and effectively monitors progress to support adaptive management.

The Lake Winnipeg Basin Program should be designed to achieve measurable phosphorus reduction using evidence-based decision-making, with funding targeted to known phosphorus hotspots where phosphorus reduction will have a measurable impact for Lake Winnipeg. The program must include robust phosphorus monitoring and strong accountability measures to ensure effective delivery of proposed outcomes. As well, tangible supports must be provided to Indigenous rightsholders and governments to enable them to participate fully in water governance and knowledge-sharing.

Thank you to everyone who joined us in advocating for renewed federal freshwater funding over the past year. Budget 2023’s multi-year investment demonstrates that our collective efforts are having an impact!

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