Update: June 15, 2023
Government of Canada sets timeline for Ontario to take action on Boreal Caribou conservation
The Government of Canada is closely following the implementation of the Agreement for the Conservation of Caribou, Boreal Population in Ontario, which was signed with the provincial government in April 2022. While the agreement outlines a number of measures to facilitate the conservation and recovery of species, of note is a commitment for the two governments to collaborate on expert-led validation of evidence-based approaches to manage self-sustaining populations and demonstrate continued alignment with federal-provincial Boreal Caribou conservation frameworks, where appropriate. Ontario has until the mutually agreed-upon timeline of April 2024, to demonstrate equivalency of approach between provincial measures and the federal framework. Provided that Ontario successfully puts in place the necessary measures and achieves results through the Boreal Caribou Conservation Agreement, further steps under the Species at Risk Act would not be taken at this time.
On May 29, 2023, the following letter was sent to:
The Hon. Stephen Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada
Hon. Patty Hajdu, MP, Thunder Bay-Superior North
Marcus Powlowski, MP, Thunder Bay-Rainy River
Kevin Holland, MPP, Thunder Bay-Atikokan
Dear Minister Guilbeault:
Concerns with Boreal Caribou Protection Order in Ontario
The Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce represents the interests of 800 businesses and their approximately 20,000 employees in the Thunder Bay district. I am writing to express the concerns of our Membership about the potential for a Ministerial recommendation to cabinet to proceed with a protection order for boreal caribou on provincial lands in Ontario.
A federal protection order will result in devastating impacts on Ontario forestry mills and result in hundreds of lost jobs here in Thunder Bay and across communities in Northwestern Ontario. Ontario could also see a reversal of the progress made in establishing modern First Nation-led forest tenure arrangements, whereby industry and First Nations communities share resource management responsibility and benefits from the forest. We also see this as contradictory to the recent announcement by Minister Wilkinson to fund Whitesand First Nations projects that are reliant on the very fibre an order would put in jeopardy. Furthermore, a lack of active forest management through harvesting will be detrimental to caribou and other species at risk, while also increasing the risk of forest fire devastation.
We support Ontario’s $29 million investment to implement the 5-year Conservation Agreement (the Agreement) signed by Canada and Ontario in 2022. We are extremely concerned with the appearance that the federal government is abandoning the process to pursue a protection order. We believe that Canada must honour the 5-year Agreement and their promise to consult with Indigenous communities, municipalities, industries, and practitioners before taking further action.
I ask that you reconsider taking this opinion to cabinet and begin consultation with stakeholders and Indigenous communities directly to discuss these concerns and our shared objective of advancing caribou conservation in Ontario.