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Parks Canada budget cuts will hurt: CPAWS


Ottawa -- CPAWS is concerned that deep staffing reductions at Parks Canada as a result of federal budget cuts starting this year could significantly impair the agency’s ability to carry out its mission.

Parks Canada is responsible for protecting our national parks and national marine conservation areas on behalf of Canadians, enabling people to experience the natural wonders within these places and creating new parks and marine conservation areas that will complete the parks systems on land and sea.

“We fear that the massive cuts made to Parks Canada’s programs will impair the Agency’s ability to protect and share our most treasured natural places on behalf of Canadians. The cuts may also harm the economic well-being of many communities across Canada that rely on direct and spin-off employment generated by our parks,” said CPAWS National Executive Director Eric Hebert-Daly.

Over the past decade Parks Canada has built a world-leading science-based program to protect and restore the health of park ecosystems.  CPAWS is concerned that staffing cuts will seriously impair the Agency’s scientific capacity, resulting in a lack of information required by park managers to protect our parks from growing threats to their wildlife and ecosystems.  This could have a real impact on the grizzly bears, caribou, and many other species, including many at risk of extinction, that rely on our parks as habitat.

The Canada National Parks Act requires that protecting ecological integrity is the first priority of the Minister, and achieving this mandate requires significant scientific research and monitoring.  CPAWS is also concerned about the future of national park interpretation programs, through which Parks Canada introduces Canadians to the wonders of nature in our parks, and helps connect visitors with nature.

These staff cuts come on the heels of last week’s introduction through the budget implementation bill of changes to the laws governing our national parks and national marine conservation areas. The changes will reduce the frequency of park management plan reviews from every five years to every ten years.

“Reviewing these plans every ten years will not be frequent enough to address the rapidly changing ecological and social conditions we now face, which could result in declining ecosystem health in our parks,” adds Hebert-Daly.

The primary purpose of our national parks is to protect our natural heritage, however a significant co-benefit is that they contribute significant economic benefits to the Canadian economy.  According to the Canadian Parks Council, in 2009 Parks Canada’s program contributed $2.5 billion to Canada’s GDP, and supported 35,000 jobs through direct employment and economic spin-offs, many in rural and remote communities. 

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Contact: Ellen Adelberg, eadelberg@cpaws.org (613)292-2875