News & Events

March 10, 2020: $1 billion needed to protect the St. Lawrence River

QUEBEC CITY, March 10, 2020- The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Collaborativetoday released Action Plan 2020-2030 for the Future of the St. Lawrence at  Salon des technologies environnementales du Quebec (Salon des TEQ). The Action Plan calls for an investment of $100 million per year over 10 years by the Federal Government to better protect the Saint-Laurent region, its quality of water and the health of its residents from the impacts of climate change and toxic substances.

June 18, 2019: Click here to read the Collaborative’s June newsletter

June 18, 2019: 10 year action plan to protect the Great Lakes proposed

May 16, 2019: Click here to read the Collaborative’s April/May newsletter

May 2019: Seeking feedback on the draft Great Lakes recommendations

We welcome feedback on the draft Great Lakes Issue Table recommendations. You can find the draft recommendations within the May 1st Summit Presentation Slides.

Please provide feedback on these recommendations by filling out the following survey links:

Climate Change Survey Link

Beaches Survey Monkey Link 

Nutrients Survey Monkey Link 

Toxics Survey Monkey link

In addition to reviewing the slides, you can also watch videos of the Issue Table co-chairs explaining the draft recommendations during the Great Lakes Summit on May 1st:

Introductory remarks video recording

Climate Change video recording

Beaches video recording 

Nutrients video recording

Toxics video recording

We are in the process of finalizing the recommendations based on feedback received during the Summit and the survey. The sooner we can get your additional feedback, the better, and please no later than Wednesday, May 22nd. Thank you in advance for your feedback.

Stay tuned as revised recommendations for the Great Lakes phase of the Collaborative will be released in mid-June.

May 1, 2019: Great Lakes Summit in Toronto

On May 1st, 2019, the Collaborative hosted a Great Lakes Summit in Toronto to provide an opportunity for the larger Great Lakes community to learn more about the recommendations under development and to provide thoughts and feedback before the recommendations are shared with key decision makers in June.

Issue Table Co-chairs presented draft recommendations for Great Lakes protection on four key issues:

1. climate change and its impact on shoreline communities

2. adopting a risk-based approach to beaches and bacteriological contamination

3. nutrients and the value of precision conservation and stormwater optimization

4. the management of toxics and harmful pollutants, particularly regarding cumulative exposure

Key note speaker, Cameron Davis, former special advisor on the Great Lakes to President Obama, spoke about the importance of collaboration between Canada and the United States on Great Lakes protection, and the contribution that the Collaborative recommendations could make to this important relationship.

Draft recommendations will be finalized over the coming weeks based on feedback received at the Great Lakes Summit and subsequent survey responses. A complete list of draft recommendations presented during the Summit can be found in the May 1st Summit presentation slides. The following is a high level summary of the recommendations:

Climate Change

The desired outcome of the Climate Change Issue Table is to identify the most climate-vulnerable shoreline areas, assess their levels of future risk, and implement measures to improve climate resilience to protect people, property, and natural areas along the shoreline. This should be done by providing direct assistance and funding to communities in five shoreline resiliency priority zones hardest hit by extreme flooding and erosion caused by climate change. Priority zones would target areas with unique needs and characteristics such as geographic location, particular exposure or vulnerabilities, severity of hazards, features at risk, and varying levels of capacity to adapt. While these may be adapted or expanded over time, proposed shoreline priority zones include:

  1. Central Western Lake Erie (Chatham-Kent, Leamington)
  2. Central Lake Huron (Amberley to Grand Bend)
  3. Central Lake Ontario (Toronto to Prince Edward County)
  4. Lake Superior (Fort William First Nation, Thunder Bay)
  5. Southeastern Georgian Bay (Penetanguishene, Tiny Township)

The Governments of Canada and Ontario should provide financial support to priority zone collaboratives, building on existing capacity to assess climate change shoreline impacts, risks, and the magnitude of need; build the business case for shoreline risk assessments and adaptation; and implement adaptation and risk-reducing measures on the ground.

Beaches and Bacteriological Contamination:

The desired outcome of the Beaches Issue Table is to ensure Great Lakes beaches are clean and protect public health by moving from a pollution notification/response approach to a pollution prevention approach.

This should be done by identifying beaches with chronic bacteriological  problems, and requiring action to clean up the source of bacteria, including untreated sewage. This would involve:

  1. Adopting a risk-based approach to beaches management that includes requirements and funding to track and address persistent sources of bacteriological contamination.
  2. Introducing a central portal that makes all beach testing and survey results publicly accessible.
  3. Modernizing Ontario beach owners’ use of new techniques and technologies that allow for more time-sensitive monitoring and reporting of beach quality.
  4. Improving maintenance, beach design, and naturalization of shorelines to make them more climate resilient and to protect shoreline integrity.


The Nutrients Issue’s desired outcome is to focus on subwatershed and property level/specific sites to apply practices where they can have most cost-effective impact to reduce phosphorus loss.

This should be done by harnessing the power of big data to identify nutrient hotspots and work directly with landowners, municipalities, First Nations, and others in priority areas to reduce nutrient runoff that causes harmful effects, such as algal blooms, and improve the health of our water. This would involve six steps:

  1. Adopt precision conservation and urban stormwater optimization approaches.
  2. Develop data management strategy to identify priority subwatersheds, properties, and best practices, and track water quality improvements over time.
  3. Create a Centre or Network to support precision conservation and urban stormwater optimization, as well as sustainable phosphorus cycle over the long term.
  4. Designate a network of extension workers with standardized training to provide consistent technical advice on phosphorus loss reduction.
  5. Develop an urban stormwater optimization strategy.
  6. Dedicate funding to invest in and support precision conservation and stormwater optimization.

Toxics and Other Harmful Pollutants:

The desired outcome of the Toxics Issue Table is to supplement existing programs to reduce human and environmental exposure to toxic chemicals and other harmful pollutants in the Great Lakes basin.

This should be done by actively investigating the ways we are exposed to harmful toxic chemicals and by requiring action to reduce our exposure. This would be done in three ways:

  1. Targeted environmental and human health biomonitoring programme in Great Lakes basin that will provide level of surveillance missing from current programs.
  2. Improve generation, integration, relevance and comprehensibility of information on exposure to toxic chemicals and harmful pollutants in Great Lakes basin; ensure it is effectively communicated to affected and interested parties; and support informed decision making and response resulting in reduced exposure.
  3. Support alternative ways to perform function of toxic chemicals in products and processes in Great Lakes basin, through technical support and incentives, based on comprehensive review of function and use of substance of concern and likely alternatives, including those not under CEPA.

March 29, 2019: Second Great Lakes St. Lawrence Collaborative Webinar

The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Collaborative held a second webinar for stakeholders on Friday, March 29th. Issue Tables have been working to develop recommendations that address climate change impacts on shoreline communities, taking a more proactive approach to toxics and other harmful pollutants, ensuring that our beaches are clean, safe and clear of bacteriological contamination, and adopting a more geographically precise approach to reducing phosphorus entering our waterways. Thank you to those who joined the webinar to learn about the first set of recommendations from our four Issue Tables.

The webinar was facilitated by Expert Panel Co-Chair, Gord Miller, Former Environment Commissioner of Ontario, and Nicola Crawhall, Secretariat Lead for the Collaborative, together with presentations from Issue Table Co-Chairs: Helen Doyle (Toxics), Dale Cowan and Gayle Wood (Nutrients), Al Douglas (Climate Change), and Sandra Cooper (Beaches).

To view a PDF of the March 29th webinar Powerpoint slides, please click here.

To watch the complete March 29th webinar, please click here.

March 27, 2019: Click here to read the Collaborative’s March newsletter

March 22, 2019: CPEQ launches podcast about Collaborative on World Water Day 

On World Water Day 2019, the Conseil Patronal de l’Environnement du Québec (CPEQ) was proud to launch a podcast about the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Collaborative featuring Jean Cinq-Mars, the Collaborative’s Expert Panel Co-Chair.

À l’occasion de la Journée mondiale de l’eau 2019, le Conseil Patronal de l’Environnement du Québec (CPEQ) est fier de lancer sa première capsule de type “podcast” (balado), portant sur la Stratégie collaborative Grands Lacs-Saint-Laurent, avec M. Jean Cinq-Mars, coprésident du comité d’experts de cette Stratégie.

To view the CPEQ video, please click here.

February 28, 2019: Click here to read the Collaborative’s February newsletter

February 5, 2019: First Great Lakes St. Lawrence Collaborative Webinar

The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Collaborative hosted its first stakeholder webinar on Tuesday, February 5 from 10:00 to 11:30 am EST. The purpose of the webinar was to present thinking to date on recommendations under development, and to solicit stakeholder input early in the process. The webinar was facilitated by Expert Panel Co-Chairs, Gord Miller, Former Environment Commissioner of Ontario, and Jean Cinq-Mars, former Quebec Commissioner of Sustainable Development.

To view the webinar Powerpoint Presentation, please click here.

To watch the complete webinar, please click here

January 2019: Click here to read the latest updates in the GLSL Collaborative’s Newsletter. 

December 2018: Click here to read our first GLSL Collaborative Newsletter.

Panel of Experts to Investigate Protection of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River

Stakeholder-Led Collaborative Strategy receives federal funding Toronto, ON, Friday, October 26, 2018 – Today, an independent panel with experts from across the Canadian portion of the Great Lakes and along the St. Lawrence River held its first meeting, launching an 18-month process to develop recommendations for all governments to safeguard Canada’s greatest reserve of freshwater and the St. Lawrence River estuary. The Expert Panel will be co-chaired by two former provincial environmental commissioners of Ontario and Quebec respectively, Mr. Gord Miller and M. Jean Cinq-Mars. The independent panel will be advised by Indigenous organisations, stakeholders representing a cross section of industrial, agricultural, maritime, municipal, recreational, fishery and environmental interests, and other academic and scientific experts. Environment and Climate Change Canada is providing $400,000 to fund the initiative. The outcome [...]