The Green Party of Canada is calling on the Harper Government to reinstate funding to Environment Canada’s Invasive Alien Species Partnership Program. “The unacceptably drastic cuts to Environment Canada’s budget are now leading to the loss of programs that are important for the country’s biodiversity and to our conomy,” said Saanich-Gulf Islands MP Elizabeth May, Leader of the Greens.
“A lot of invasive species are arriving because of increases in imports with free trade agreements. The Harper Conservatives keep pushing free trade but are allowing our protections to fall by the wayside,” said May. “Invasive species have a huge economic cost and we need these front-line programs in place more than ever with climate change leading to changes in species distribution,” said May.
According to the Ontario Invasive Plant Council, the impacts of just sixteen invasive species have cost the Canadian economy between $13.3 and $34.5 billion annually. A well-known example is the devastation that the zebra mussel has caused to fisheries in the Great Lakes, estimated to be in the millions annually.
Funding for the Invasive Alien Species Partnership Program (IASPP) was terminated as of March 31, 2012, leaving in the lurch any organizations that were counting on funding for this year’s projects.
In the last six years, the IASPP distributed nearly $5.6 million to 170 projects across Canada. Projects encouraged prevention, detection and management of invasive species, often engaging community members.
“The IASPP’s funding is critical to support many worthwhile local projects to reduce the damage caused by invasive species. This is just another example of the callous disregard the Harper Conservatives have to the links between the environment and the economy,” said May.