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Ontario protects water with new proposed fee on bottlers

In the wake of climate change impacts, Ontario is beginning to take more stringent steps to ensure that fresh water resources are protected. The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has proposed a new fee for water bottlers that use groundwater.

Water bottle companies such as Nestle pay $3.71 for one million litres of fresh groundwater. Yes, that’s just under four dollars for a million litres of water — a natural resource that is slowly dissipating. The Wednesday announcement will propose that these companies pay a mandatory minimum fee of $500 for one million litres, something that is being widely celebrated by environmentalists across the province. Though critics may consider the fee high, it would cover the costs of managing the groundwater taken by the water bottlers, as well as scientific research, policies and outreach to further protect the resource.

Other amendments that Ontario is proposing include new procedural and technical requirements to make water bottling more transparent in the public eye and to increase scientific requirements when testing the water. The proposed changes are open to public consultation until March 20, 2017 and is available on the Environmental Registry.

Ontario has been actively working towards protecting the fresh water resources in the province, finalizing a two-year moratorium on new or expanded permits for water bottlers to take fresh groundwater resources. The limitation on permits also changed from 10 years to five years. The proposal was approved on Dec. 16, 2016 after public consultations came to an end.

In the wake of climate change, fresh groundwater resources are becoming more valuable as water shortages could easily become a reality. After it was discovered earlier in 2016 that Nestle was taking more than one million litres of water a day with an expired permit, the government and its citizens began to seriously consider whether this was appropriate. This ultimately led to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change taking the threat of water shortages seriously and is proposing courageous and sweeping changes to how water bottling is currently managed in the province. Women’s Post will be following this issue with great interest.

Is Canada Day worth celebrating?

Canada Day is an opportunity to appreciate a great country to live in….or is it?

It seems that most people look at the national holiday as a chance to work time and a half, and make a little extra cash on the holiday. But, where is the sentimentality for the great north? Does it exist or are Canadians feeling less celebratory than usual?

It has been an interesting year for Canada, full of good intentions and bad decisions. A new government was voted in, bringing the Liberals back into power after a disastrous end for the Conservative party. This was a shining moment for Canadians, as everyone young and old swept out a government that was actively pushing frightening bills such as Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism act (which is currently still on the table). Canadians came together and decided that a country that didn’t support multiculturalism and democratic interests was not going to get another term. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau represents a new and fresh agenda for Canada and, whatever his flaws, he advocates on behalf of valuable issues such as equality and Aboriginal rights.

Canada also saw its first gender-balanced cabinet and female NDP leader in Alberta — Rachel Notley —which is unprecedented in the province. Canadians saw people rally when the Fort McMurray fires nearly wiped out an entire city, and proudly took in Syrians as the refugee crisis continued. Canada was a strong attendee at the first Paris Climate Change Conference and is making waves adopting new climate change legislation to try and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

On the other hand, the Mike Duffy trial was a disappointment, and the new gender-balanced cabinet made an embarrassment of itself when Trudeau accidentally elbowed NDP member, Ruth Ellen Brosseau. Canada also granted a U.S. town permission to take 8.2 million gallons of water from Lake Michigan, which opens up our great lakes for the taking.

Overall, Canadians should be celebrating a country that makes mistakes, but actively tries to promote its founding principles of democracy, respect, and equality for all. Canada has its flaws, but even though it is often compared to our American big brother or our cranky British grandmother, it also has its own identity. It is a blessing to live in a country of great beauty that is not suffering from many of the world’s desperate problems such as water scarcity or a lack of essential social services.

Canada is young, but worthy of national pride. Even if you are working or otherwise engaged and cannot attend any Canada day events across the country, take a moment to celebrate being Canadian. I am definitely proud to don red and white, and pledge towards building a new and better future for this country. Will you do the same?