Looking for the "Blue" in the Federal Throne Speech

On the heels of the Throne Speech in which the government promises to deliver an “ambitious green agenda,” we are highlighting what to look for in terms of “blue” commitments.

There are three important priorities we hope will be emphasized in this throne speech: 

  • A commitment to nature-based solutions (including natural and green infrastructure, protected areas, wetlands, and forests); 
  • A specific commitment to advancing water security, likely through the establishment and development of the Canada Water Agency; and 
  • A commitment to a just and equitable recovery.

These commitments will guide a recovery that is good for overall ecosystem health, good for freshwater health, and good for communities. Let’s look at them in a little more detail.

Firstly, nature-based solutions to climate change is a big topic of conversation in the virtual “walls” of Ottawa lately. COVID-19 shut down access to many green spaces, beaches and protected areas. This crisis has underlined the important co-benefits of nature to the mental and physical health of communities across this country and around the world. Investments in nature-based solutions would go a long way to supporting not only community resilience, but also, ecological health and climate resilience. That’s because trees, green spaces, wetlands, rain gardens, etc. infiltrate rainwater and snowmelt more readily than hard surfaces making for smaller volumes of water running off to lakes and rivers (and helping to lessen the impacts of floods). And they also help filter rainwater and snowmelt, so the quality of water that enters our lakes and rivers is cleaner. 

In the throne speech, look for commitments to: 

  1. Advance ecological protected areas; 
  2. Renew Infrastructure Canada’s Disaster, Mitigation and Adaptation Fund; and 
  3. Make investments in targeted natural infrastructure tools. 

For more on our expectations about nature-based solutions, check out this letter we coordinated with signatures from 40+ national and regional groups across the environmental, municipal and research sectors.  

Threats to water security are revealing themselves across the country. Our partners at the Our Living Waters Network released a list of over 300 ‘shovel ready and shovel worthy’ projects that would advance water security while providing job creation in all sizes of communities including across small, rural and indigneous communities.  The groups called for an immediate investment in 100 million and in each year following for the next 5 years.  On the heels of this call to action groups in BC advance calls for the establishment of a Water Security Trust in the province with a 1 time 400 million dollar investment in the province. CWA

In the throne speech, look for commitments to:

  1. Creating the Canada Water Agency and a specific timeline and scope for water security priorities; 
  2. Renewed support for water security funds such as those awarded under EcoAction Canada.

Check out the work we have supported with our friends at the Our Living Waters Network on both the Canada Water Agency and Blue Stimulus proposal.

Finally, a recovery that benefits all Canadians must be an equitable and just recovery. We know that Indigenous communities and people of colour have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19 and its impacts have been most felt in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighbourhoods and remote communities. A just and equitable recovery means putting people, families and communities—especially those most impacted—first in any plans for recovery.  

In the throne speech, look for commitments to: 

  1. A people-centered approach to recovery;  
  2. A commitment to support those who have been most impacted. 

Check out the principles for just and equitable recovery, which we fully support.  

We have big hopes for a renewed mandate of this government. 

Although COVID-19 has been extremely hard the emotional, physical and social health of people and communities across this country, it has never been more clear that now is the time to invest in community and ecological resilience and health. We look forward to seeing this commitment reflected in next week's speech from the throne.  

Want to do more? Sign our petition asking for a Green Recovery in Canada and pledge to Open Up to Nature in your community.