A 34-year-old national environmental network that has served as a link between people and the federal government shut its doors Friday afternoon after Environment Canada cut its funding.
The Canadian Environmental Network was told Thursday that its funding from the federal government won't be renewed.
"It was a real kick in the pants," said Dan Casselman, the group's senior national caucus co-ordinator.
"If they'd given us some warning we might have had time to find money somewhere else."
The network acted as a link between 640 small environmental groups across the country and the federal government. In the past, if Ottawa needed advice on policies or new laws it would ask the network for input. The organization would then help the various smaller groups discuss issues and take part in formal consultations across the country.
The grassroots organization has helped craft important environmental legislation over the past three decades, including the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
Casselman said the group received notice in May that the government was expecting to renew its $547,000 budget for another year. However, it didn't hear anything about the final approval, so the network made contingency plans and warned staff at its national office they could be laid off.
Its financial picture became clear when the group received a letter Thursday from Environment Canada saying it had decided not to enter into the contribution agreement this fiscal year.
Five people at the national head office in Ottawa have lost their jobs. Only a few of the network's offices in some provinces will stay open because they have funding from provincial governments.
"But the pan-Canadian network is in jeopardy, " said Casselman.
Environmental groups are furious about the decision.
The executive director of the Sierra Club, John Bennett, said the Environmental Network was key in helping the government find out what Canadians think about environmental issues across the country.
"It was a way to find out what people are thinking about on the ground. I guess it shows that Environment Canada doesn't care," Bennett said.
He thinks it's all part of the ongoing cuts to anything environmental in Canada. More than 700 positions with Environment Canada itself, many of them scientific, could be affected by budget cuts by the end of the fiscal year.
A spokeswoman for Environment Minister Peter Kent said in an email on Friday that the department is reviewing its spending to make sure it's getting value for money.
"The department is moving towards a more direct use of web-based consultation. The department already has a number of web pages dedicated to public participation and consultation," Melissa Lantsman said.
"The intent is to expand on these to not only provide comments on discussion papers, but to invite stakeholders to submit ideas or policy solutions on the government’s environmental priorities," Lantsman said.
But Casselman said that's not realistic.
"Canadians are not going to spend their time mining the far reaches of the government web pages to find out about new policies," he said. "The Environmental Network does that. We are the connection between the people and the feds."
Even though he is out of a job, Casselman said he and other employees will volunteer their time to try drum up funding to keep the network going.
But late Friday afternoon he was still dealing with how quickly things happened.
"I'm going to drink a beer and then I'm going home," he said.
Canadian Environmental Network Funding Has Been Cut- PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW!
We’ve received some bad news yesterday evening that the Federal Government has decided to terminate its funding agreement with the Canadian Environment Network (CEN), which is a major supporter of the Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides-NL.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Network (NLEN), like the all the other provincial environment networks across the country, receives a small core operating grant (~$18,000 annually) to run our part-time office. Yesterday’s decision means that this source of funding for the NLEN will cease. We will of course be calling for a reversal on this decision, while also seeking alternate sources of funding for the fiscal year 2012 and beyond.
LIST OF ORGANIZATIONS DEDICATED TO ELIMINATING PESTICIDES IN CANADA
PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR ORGANIZATION TO CAPS IF IT DOES NOT APPEAR ON THIS LIST
Apart from joining our email campaign urging Jean Chretien's Liberals to eliminate synthetic pesticides from use in Canada, help is desperately needed in your very own community. Dozens of grassroots organizations across the country are involved in creating public awareness of the dangers of pesticide exposure. They are also instrumental in urging municipal governments to pass bylaws prohibiting the use of cosmetic pesticides on public and private lands and restricting pesticide use on farms to reduce exposure through spray "drift".
Below, you will find a growing list of such organizations. Please contact one near you to get involved locally. If you don't see an organization im your area, email: caps and we will help you find one.
|Canadian Environmental Network||Toronto, ONfirstname.lastname@example.org|
Ontario Organization members:
Cape, Cela, CIELP, Greenpeace, SIerra Club, EcoJustice, Environmental Defence, Ontario Trillium Foundation and hundreds more…..
Many More Canadian Affiliates affected: