Throne speeches are typically proclamations by a government that often don’t become reality.
So when the idea of creating a national water management agency was dropped in the Trudeau government’s prorogued Parliament reset last month, it did raise some eyebrows among the Okanagan water management community.
Anna Warwick Sears, executive director of the Okanagan Basin Water Board, said the idea would be welcomed, she has heard that suggestion before and sees bureaucratic pushback in the path forward to reach fruition.
She said the idea makes sense since water is a resource that connects Canadians from coast-to-coast, but also has regionally diverse priorities and currently involves different departments and ministries.
“It would be better to end the silos that exist between different federal agencies right now related to water but it will take some time yet for that to be all worked out,” Warwick Sears said.
“The challenge is it is very difficult to restructure massive bureaucracies. So I don’t expect it would happen really quickly but I am heartened to see it as part of the throne speech.”
Warwick Sears said water management across Canada is confronted by huge resource management problems, such as flooding and water quality, that vary between different provinces and regions, and the solutions call for significant investments as well.
The throne speech stated the following about creating a new water agency:
“When the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration was closed by a previous government, Canada lost an important tool to manage its waters.
“The government will create a new Canada Water Agency to keep our water safe, clean, and well-managed. The government will also identify opportunities to build more resilient water and irrigation infrastructure.
“At the same time, the government will look at continuing to grow Canada’s ocean economy to create opportunities for fishers and coastal communities, while advancing reconciliation and conservation objectives. Investing in the Blue Economy will help Canada prosper.”