The Great Lakes are vitally important to all Ontarians for our drinking water, quality of life, and prosperity. More than 80 per cent of people in Ontario rely on the Great Lakes for their drinking water. The shorelines and beaches are favourite destinations. Their waters and watersheds are home to thousands of species of fish, plants and other living creatures.
We need to restore the lakes now, for this and future generations to continue to enjoy their benefits New challenges are overwhelming old solutions. Population growth and emerging issues including new chemicals of concern, invasive species, pollution and climate change are stressing the Great Lakes, so we need new tools to protect the Great Lakes.
Thanks to our efforts to date, we have seen a significant reduction in the amount of persistent toxic substances going into the lakes. PCBs, mercury, dioxins and furans have all been cut by 90 per cent.
In the past 40 years, Ontario has worked with the federal government to clean up toxic hot spots in Collingwood, Severn Sound and Wheatley Harbour. Cleanup actions at Spanish Harbour, Peninsula Harbour and Jackfish Bay have started the environmental recovery there. Our restoration efforts include more than $660 million in investments in municipal water infrastructure since 2007.
The Ontario Great Lakes Strategy was released in December 2012. The strategy is Ontario’s first road map to guide Ontario’s future actions to protect the Great Lakes.
Ontario also re-introduced the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act in February 2013, to restore and protect our Great Lakes to keep them drinkable, swimmable and fishable. While developing the legislation, we listened to the people of Ontario and they were clear about the importance of legislation to protect the Great Lakes. We will introduce amendments during the legislative period to reflect the feedback we received.
The province will continue to listen to First Nations and Métis communities, Great Lakes experts, interested stakeholders and the people of Ontario as the legislation proceeds through the House.
Read more about what actions the Ontario government, along with many partners, is taking to protect and restore the Great Lakes: