Public Values

Harper attacks marine science in Quebec

Cuts to Maurice-Lamontagne Institute put species and people at risk.

Brodeur: We re talking about cutting 100 percent of the chemists and 25 percent of the researchers.MONT-JOLI, QC, May 25, 2012: Twelve Maurice-Lamontagne Institute (MLI) researchers and scientists received their workforce adjustment (WFA) notice on May 17. According to the union representing them, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is dismantling cutting edge infrastructure crucial for the health of the Maritime fisheries.

"According to our initial analysis, DFO will soon close the Laboratories of Expertise in Aquatic Chemical Analysis (LEACA) and dismantle the scientific team working on marine toxicology and chemistry. What we're talking about here is cutting 100 percent of the chemists and 25 percent of the researchers," worries Yvon Brodeur, PIPSC Qu├ębec Regional Director.

  "Dispensing with MLI scientific services to save money will mean troubled waters ahead for the government, with no room for error."

There will be impacts on several levels: first, the federal lab (LEACA) will no longer be available to conduct chemical analyses in emergency situations (e.g., oil spills). The lab also works on improving detection methods for new toxic molecules accumulating in the aquatic food chain.

The absence of monitoring of the biological effects of chemical compounds (PCBs, heavy metals, pesticides, organochlorines, antibiotics, etc.) in the aquatic environment raises concerns for the health and safety of many species and the people who consume them.

Therefore, DFO is doing away with the necessary tools and expertise for ensuring the conservation, protection and sustainable management of stocks and in the process, is forcing the MLI to betray its mission of providing the government of Canada with a scientific foundation for maintaining healthy and productive aquatic ecosystems and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.

"The Harper government has not learned its lesson from the past," Yvon Brodeur fears. "Twenty years ago, we had a full-blown crisis with the collapse of the Atlantic cod stocks. And, over nearly a decade, about $3 billion was allocated to the Northern Cod Adjustment and Recovery Program. Dispensing with MLI scientific services to save money will mean troubled waters ahead for the government, with no room for error."

The MLI contributes widely to regional development, so the loss of the research activities will weaken the Rimouski-Mont-Joli area's position as a recognized marine research centre.

In DFO and its special operating agency, the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), there are 25 PIPSC affected members in Quebec alone and more than 130 across Canada — highly qualified biologists, chemists, researchers, political advisors, IT specialists, trade officers and procurement officers.

Links and sources
  Dismantling of scientific infrastructure of a federal marine research gem, the Maurice-Lamontagne Institute

Posted: June 06, 2012

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