Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada

Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada

March 10, 2008 14:53 ET

PIPSC: Failing Grade on Environmental Stewardship Raises the Question of the Cost of Neglect

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 10, 2008) - The federal government's failing grade in the status report by the Environment and Sustainable Development Commissioner is just another example of the government's poor leadership on the environment, says the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC).

Ron Thompson's report identifies unsatisfactory progress and weak leadership in the areas of water pollution in the Great Lakes, endangered species, federal operations and Canada's international commitments. All of these issues were raised in previous audits from the Commissioner's office, which answers to the auditor general. The department has failed to set timelines for the completion of all priority actions, failed to establish cost-sharing arrangements with responsible partners, and failed to secure the resources needed to implement required actions.

"It is difficult to imagine a more sweeping indictment of the government's environmental stewardship than this report," commented PIPSC President Michele Demers. "What is especially noteworthy is the extent to which the neglect of monitoring and scientific assessment lies at the source of the government's inability to meet its own commitments in so many areas."

The consequences of understaffing, underfunding, the diversion of program allocations and the erosion of funding in the federal government's science-based departments and agencies are now quite clear.

The cost of this neglect is nothing less than the erosion of the scientific capacity of the federal government to monitor, assess, and respond to threats to endangered ecosystems and wildlife populations. The under-resourcing and diversion of available program funding is leading scientists to ask some important questions. Are the core deliverables in Environment Canada being funded? Are the Government's legal obligations being met? What about the risks to the environment and human health? What is the potential liability to taxpayers from lawsuits alleging breach of duty?

The failing grade on this environmental report calls into question once again the government's decision to abolish the Office of the National Science Advisor.

"At a time when Canadians are greatly concerned with the environment, the need for a national science advisor has never been greater and the government is yet again risking damage to Canada's international reputation as a science leader," remarked Ms. Demers.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada is a national union representing 55,000 professionals and scientists across Canada.

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