The Minister’s Roundtables on Parks Canada

What is the Minister’s Round Table?

Under the Parks Canada Agency Act, the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change is required to convene a Round Table every two years so that interested Canadians may provide their feedback and recommendations on how Parks Canada is delivering on its mandate.

CPAWS’ 2023 recommendations for the Minister’s Round Table:

  1. Significantly ramp up efforts to establish national parks/national park reserves, national urban parks (NUPs), and NMCA(R)s to contribute to protecting at least 30 percent of land and ocean by 2030.
  2. Take a leadership role in managing land and ocean beyond park boundaries to support ecological integrity within the parks and to ensure wildlife can safely move through the broader land and seascape.
  3. Maintaining and restoring ecological integrity is the first priority for managing national parks and NMCAs. Achieving this includes, among other priorities, prohibiting infrastructure and activities that threaten wildlife and ecosystems, and developing human use strategies that support accessibility within the ecological context of the land and seascape while mitigating impacts for all sites.

Read CPAWS’ full 2023 Minister’s Round Table submission

CPAWS’ 2020 recommendations for the Minister’s Round Table:

  1. Establishing more national parks and national marine conservation areas (NMCAs) to help deliver on Canada’s commitment to protect 25% of land and ocean by 2025 and 30% by 2030.
  2. Taking a leadership role in managing land and ocean beyond protected area boundaries to support ecological integrity of parks and ensure wildlife can move safely through the broader land- and seascape.
  3. Maintaining and restoring ecological integrity as the first priority for managing national parks and NMCAs, including by prohibiting development and activities that pose threats to wildlife and committing to developing data-driven human use strategies for all sites.
  4. Continuing to pursue opportunities to work with Indigenous peoples to co-create and co-manage national parks and NMCAs.
  5. Establishing a network of national urban parks and NMCAs across Canada to protect and restore critical ecosystems in urban landscapes, help connect Canadians to nature, and build support for conservation efforts.
  6. Continue working with experts and stakeholders to improve diversity, inclusion, and accessibility without compromising on ecological integrity.

Read CPAWS’ full 2020 Minister’s Round Table submission

CPAWS’ 2017 recommendations for the Minister’s Round Table:

Re-focus on ecological integrity and restore open, transparent decision-making by

  • Establishing an independent advisory committee to advise the Minister on maintaining or restoring ecological integrity as the first priority;
  • Providing clear Ministerial direction to all Agency staff at all levels that maintaining or restoring ecological integrity must be the number one priority in all aspects of park management;
  • Re-investing at least $25M per year in park science, ecological monitoring and public reporting;
  • Restoring the requirement to review park management plans every five years (instead of 10);
  • Producing publicly available and peer-reviewed State of Park reports for each park every five years;
  • Making ecological and social science monitoring datasets publicly available by the end of 2017;
  • Integrating climate change considerations into all Parks Canada policies and plans; and
  • Actively pursuing opportunities to engage in conservation initiatives beyond park boundaries.

Deliver on the government’s commitment to limit development in national parks by

  • Commissioning an independent review of Parks Canada decision making processes, particularly in Banff and Jasper National Parks, to protect ecological integrity and commitment to open, transparent decision-making in the public interest;
  • Publicly committing to no expansion of the development footprint in Banff and Jasper National Parks;
  • Restoring a legal requirement for the highest standard of environmental assessment for all projects in national parks and national marine conservation areas. For more detailed recommendations, see CPAWS submission to the Environmental Assessment Review Panel.4

Focus on nature-based visitor experiences in national parks by

  • Through an open, transparent process, creating a national park visitor experience strategy that prioritizes nature-based activities rather than infrastructure-based or mass recreational activities, and which emphasizes interpretation, education and stewardship programs delivered by staff on the ground; and
  • Creating a public transportation strategy for national parks to alleviate traffic and crowding, and to support climate change mitigation. This should include enhanced public transit to and within parks.

Expand Canada’s protected areas systems by

  • Completing all currently proposed national parks by 2020;
  • Creating a new system plan for national parks by 2020 that reflects up-to-date conservation science and Indigenous knowledge, integrates climate change considerations, and embraces the opportunity to work with Indigenous governments to create and manage protected areas;
  • Incorporating protected areas into national climate change plans to reflect their value as “natural solutions”;
  • Co-leading and supporting Canada’s nationwide effort to protect at least 17% of the landscape by 2020 through the Pathway to Target 1 process, including providing support for systematic conservation planning;
  • Providing adequate levels of funding to complete the current representative national park system by 2020, as well as to create a new national park system plan, and to complete the representative NMCA system by 2030;
  • Completing proposed national marine conservation areas and identifying new sites to contribute to protecting at least 10% of our ocean by 2020, and then going substantially beyond to what’s needed to conserve nature;
  • Updating the NMCA Act to provide stronger protection measures, including ecological integrity as the primary management objective, as is the case for national parks;
  • Prioritizing the development of policies and regulations to implement the NMCA Act;
  • Leading a nation-wide effort to plan for the large-scale protection needed beyond 2020 to conserve nature in the long term, based on science and Indigenous knowledge;
  • Leading an initiative, in partnership with Indigenous governments, to explore what policy and legislative changes are required by public governments to support the establishment of Indigenous Protected Areas, created and managed by Indigenous governments, or truly co-managed with public governments.

Read CPAWS’ full 2017 Minister’s Round Table submission.

The previous Minister responded with their own set of priorities, goals, and objectives, which largely capture CPAWS’ recommendations. A report card describing the agency’s progress on reaching the objectives of the Minister’s Round Table was released and is available for download. 

For a complete list of recommendations as outlined by the Minister, see the official report.