This is Rivers and Oceans Week, a chance to reflect on the fact that the water flowing through everything from rivers to oceans – and every body of water in between – is connected.
We have the good fortune to live next to the Great Lakes – the largest source of fresh water on Earth. According to the Ontario government’s web site, 98 per cent of Ontarians live in the Great Lakes Basin where we enjoy an abundance of drinking water and leisure activities.
What many people don’t realize is that the Great Lakes region is one of the biggest economic powerhouses in the world. According to the Council of the Great Lakes Region, there are 51 million jobs connected to the Great Lakes on both sides of the border. And many of the workers on the Ontario side of the Great Lakes are represented by OPSEU.
But the Great Lakes are in some serious trouble now thanks to the Ford government watering down policies that help protect one of our most precious natural resources.
Lake Erie is now vulnerable to overfishing and poaching because the Ford government thinks it makes sense to move the fisheries conservation officers 50 kilometres inland.
And in recent days, the Ford government slashed funding for nine Ontario programs responsible for keeping invasive species in check. When allowed to gain a foothold, invasive species can decimate the Great Lakes ecosystem. This, in turn, has a devastating effect on area industries – such as fisheries and tourism – not to mention our health and well-being. Invasive species in the Great Lakes can also spread and wreak havoc on other bodies of water.
Water is our planet’s lifeblood and we must make it a priority to protect it. Our lives, jobs and economy depend on it.
President Warren (Smokey) Thomas
First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida