Funding cuts to public science and research

In a recent survey, an overwhelming number of DFO employees feel Researchthat their ability to do their jobs has been seriously jeopardized by funding cuts.  The cutbacks have reduced DFO employees’ capacity to study and monitor the environment, our fish and other aquatic resources.  This capacity is essential, and DFO and Environment Canada employees are the ones able to provide an objective, scientific oversight on the health and sustainability of Canada’s aquatic ecosystems. 

Our ecosystems are an incredibly complex web of life forms, creating and consuming energy, using and providing oxygen to the atmosphere, cycling nutrients and providing food to millions of land animals, including humans.  The ecosystem has adapted to function sustainably through complex interactions between species, climatic conditions and water chemistry.  But if limits are exceeded, a burden is placed on the system which can disrupt its functioning. 

Historically humans have used the aquatic ecosystems as an endless reserve of food, a bottomless vessel for disposal of waste and a constant source of oxygen. The overuse of aquatic resources and introduction of pollutants into the ecosystems have resulted in local ecosystem collapse.  Scientific study of these issues by government has provided us the knowledge to make local improvements. 

At a time when there’s a need to protect and understand the current conditions of our ecosystems, government is cutting funding to public science. The push for economic activity, jobs and sustainable industry and communities is increasing, but meeting these demands will be impossible if we continue to deplete the environmental capital in the system. 

We must continue to monitor, study and understand our natural environment.  We need to use our knowledge to make the right decisions, which are informed by science and not by decisions based on short-term economic benefits at the expense of long-term ecological health.

February 7, 2014 •
Canadians hoping to gauge the hazards of the Harper government’s ongoing budget cuts need look no further than the impact of the cuts on government science, concludes a new report by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) titled “Vanishing Science,” based on recent, separate surveys of federal government scientists and the public.
January 9, 2014 •
Some things are hard to explain even by the most verbose of politically astute minds.  The ongoing gutting/changing of budgets and services at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Canadian Coast Guard are beginning to defy logic. A recent article in Postmedia News by Mike De Souza outlined the depth and breadth of the situation and in doing so sent a shock-wave through the fishing and marine communities.  The story said that there will be $100 million in cuts and upwards of 500 jobs lost at DFO in many high profile areas in the very near future.
December 10, 2012 •
The Harper government has dismantled one of the world's top aquatic and fishery libraries as part of its agenda to reduce government as well as limit the role of environmental science in policy decision-making. The library's closing did not surprise retired water ecologist David Schindler. "In retrospect, I am not surprised at all to find them trashing scientific libraries," he said. Read more at  
September 5, 2012 •
D.C. Reid is an experienced fishing guide in British Columbia, writer, and regular columnist for the Victoria Times Colonist. In a recent column he writes Both the Vancouver Sun and the Times Colonist have run stories recently regarding the federal government's pulling the plug on fish habitat work by eliminating environmental assessments of new and existing projects that impact habitat. There are some 500 projects in B.C. This will have an impact on our roughly 100 million wild salmon that return each year.
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