Friday, September 23, 2011

Environment Canada cuts expand beyond ozone monitoring

Good reporting at iPolitics this afternoon, following the trail of the government's Environment Canada cuts: "Oilsands monitoring plan threatened by cuts: experts."
The looming job cuts at Environment Canada spell trouble for the federal government’s recently unveiled oilsands monitoring plan, according to experts.

The plan was publicized with much fanfare by Environment Minister Peter Kent in July, promising increased monitoring of air quality, water quality and biodiversity. Even the Opposition agreed it was a “world-class” plan.

But since then, more than 700 Environment Canada employees have been notified that their positions may be eliminated as part of an efficiency review. Among those who received the letters are scientists in the ozone monitoring program and the aircraft division — people who carry out research that is required by Kent’s plan.

The cutbacks are “gutting” the department’s ability to monitor the oilsands, said Tom Duck, an environmental scientist at Dalhousie University.

“I don’t see how they can implement this plan,” he said.
The report goes on to include an Environment Canada spokesperson saying we should fear not, they're moving into the "implementation" phase of the program in collaboration with Alberta and are committed to the monitoring system. Their actions, as reported, suggest otherwise.

One other note on this report and some of the others this week...let's hear it for the academics like Professor Duck who offer their expertise publicly on the big issues of the day. And in doing so, provide a helpful check on the view being expressed by the government. Needed ever so more in Canada these days.