Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Five federal staff lose jobs in consolidation

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FIVE federal scientists based in Winnipeg are losing their jobs as Ottawa moves to close the city's branch of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

The five were given notice Thursday.

A spokeswoman for Environment Canada said the work done at the Winnipeg office will now be moved to Edmonton.

The agency is tasked with assessing the environmental impact of development projects, consulting with aboriginal groups and ensuring mitigation measures are applied and working as intended.

The main project in Manitoba on the agency's radar at the moment is the Keeyask Generation Project in Gull Rapids. The agency is still following up on its assessment of the Wuskwatim Dam.

Previous assessments include decommissioning the Whiteshell Laboratories, the Lake Winnipeg East Side road project, the Swan Valley Gasification project and the St. Theresa Point/Wasagamack airstrip and connecting road.

Manitoba NDP MP Pat Martin said this is a significant cut from a government that wants no environmental barriers to development.

"It's death by a thousand cuts of what little is left of environmental regulation," said Martin. "We were already failing to keep up with assessing the environmental impact of industrial development; now we're tossing aside any semblance of critical analysis. Welcome to the Wild West. I guess anything goes and we can trust industry to do their own impact assessments."

Last April, Ottawa indicated it planned to reduce federal involvement in environmental assessments of natural resource projects by downloading more responsibility for such reviews to the provinces, eliminating reviews of smaller projects and consolidating federal reviews done by more than 40 agencies in just three: the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the National Energy Board and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 23, 2013 A8

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