The Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE), a component of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) launched a campaign over the summer to raise awareness about the negative effects of the $29.2 million in cuts to Parks Canada.

A large portion of these funding cuts are to the historic canals in Ontario and in Quebec, such as the Rideau Canal, the Trent-Severn Waterway, Lachine, Carillion, Chambly, Saint-Ours and several others. The Rideau Canal for example will lose $2 million annually, despite being designated a National Historic Site of Canada and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“Several million Canadians are impacted economically, environmentally, and culturally by these waterways”, states Sharon DeSousa, PSAC’s Regional Executive Vice-President for Ontario. “Without canal staff to monitor fish populations and ensure the prevention of invasive species, the sport fishing industry will be threatened, which in Central Ontario alone has an annual value of $300 million.

With reduced staff to maintain and manage the canals, along with proposals to shorten the operating season and hours of service, the region’s tourism industry is under threat.”

“The canal systems are vital transportation corridors that also serve to protect drinking water by preventing the contamination of wells, protecting vital watersheds and reducing the risk of flooding for residents along their shores,” notes Christine Collins, UCTE National President. “For communities along these canal systems, this means the loss of tourism dollars and millions in economic spin-offs for small businesses, such as marinas, hotels, restaurants and boat operators.”

PSAC and UCTE have gathered nearly 8,000 signatures from local residents and businesses, which will be presented by the New Democratic Party in the House of Commons.

When: Thursday, October 18, 2012 at noon

Where: Lock 1, 1 Canal Lane, between the Chateau Laurier and Parliament Hill

Speakers: Megan Leslie, NDP MP Environment Critic

Christine Collins, UCTE National President

Sharon DeSousa, PSAC Regional Executive Vice-President, Ontario

Anne Minh Thu Quach, NDP MP Deputy Environment Critic