Hon. Marty Klyne: Minister, my question is about the Canada Water Agency. As you know, establishing the CWA is part of the mandate letters for you and the Minister of the Environment. It’s a goal that I and many others hope to see the government move expeditiously on.
Given recent extreme weather events and increased risk in the future, establishing the CWA and rewriting the Canada Water Act are important priorities. They can help mitigate flooding, preserve safe drinking water, manage drought and limit forest fires. Water management also impacts food security in Canada.
Where do things stand with the establishment of the CWA, and do you have a timeline you can share with this chamber?
Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau, P.C., M.P., Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food: As you know, the Canada Water Agency is under the leadership of my colleague the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. I am working closely on that issue as well, particularly because the agricultural sector has a significant interest in it. A large part of the mandate of the agency would be related to irrigation and water management for agriculture. As you said so well, it has an impact on our food security and on sustainable agriculture, particularly considering last year’s drought in one part of the country and floods in another.
Canada is blessed in having 20% of the world’s fresh water, so we recognize that we have to put that strategy in place. We also have to bring all the experts from different departments together — all those who are working one way or another around the water resource — under this agency. In the last budget, you’ve seen $43.5 million over five years that we will be investing in this. The work is in progress. We are still in consultations, so it is a bit too soon for me to give clearer direction on this.