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Federal budget cuts weaken environmental sustainability and economic prosperity — PSAC

New video highlights absurdity of pitting Canadian fisheries against economy.

Gordon: Conservative austerity agenda weakens capacity of departments to be fish habitat stewards.WHITEHORSE, YT, February 23, 2012: Recent cuts to federal environmental monitoring programs will have a long-term negative impact on Canada's environmental sustainability and its economic prosperity, says the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). The Conservative austerity budget in March will only exacerbate the problem and make it difficult for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and Environment Canada to fulfill their mandates.

Twenty years after the collapse of the cod fishery off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, the industry still hasn't recovered and there is now serious concern the sockeye salmon fishery in the Fraser River in British Columbia will go the way of the cod.

  "The Conservative government has decided to gut public services that monitor, manage and protect our fisheries and the environment."

"In the face of disappearing fish stocks that are so important to our ecosystems and national economy, the Conservative government has decided to gut public services that monitor, manage and protect our fisheries and the environment," said John Gordon, National President of PSAC.

In August 2011, Environment Canada cut 700 jobs in an effort to balance its budget. Earlier that summer, 50 contract scientists were cut, many of whom worked on climate change research.

In addition, over 400 jobs at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans were affected in December 2011. This will have a direct impact on monitoring fish stocks and managing fish habitat.

DFO workers also process licensing requests for commercial fishermen, sports fishermen and other Canadians who depend on our fisheries for their livelihoods and recreation, key economic drivers in many parts of the country. The cuts will result in significant delays that will further harm our economy. Government statistics pegged the gross value of fisheries output at almost $7 billion in 2006.

"Those who work at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Environment Canada and other departments play a critical role in managing the sustainability of our fisheries," said Gordon. "The Conservative austerity agenda is weakening the capacity of these departments to fulfill their mandates as stewards of our fish habitats."

A new PSAC video, part of its Third Choice campaign, highlights the absurdity of forcing Canadians to choose between strong public services and a strong economy. By weakening the capacity of the federal government to act as stewards of our fish stocks, the Harper cuts harm both.

Related individuals, organizations and significant events
Backgrounder: Fragile fisheries under threat by budget cuts

Links and sources
  Government austerity threatens environment and the economy: New PSAC video highlights harm to Canada's fisheries

Posted: February 29, 2012

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