IN THE NEWS ~ Cuts at Environment Canada slammed by Burnaby MP, citizens

Published | Publié: 2012-04-17
Received | Reçu: 2012-04-17 4:36 AM
THE PROVINCE (FINAL) THE PROVINCE (FINAL)
NEWS, Page: A6

Cuts at Environment Canada slammed by Burnaby MP, citizens

Kent Spencer, The Province

   Emergency oil-spill responders at Environment Canada in Vancouver are part of a budget cut involving several dozen employees, says the federal government.

   Adam Sweet, spokesman for Environment Minister Peter Kent, said Monday that the first responders' function will be relocated to Eastern Canada.

   Sweet said the new "national model" is meant to close regional offices and create efficiencies.

   "This will not impact Canadians or the environment. We'll continue to provide scientific advice," he said.

   "These employees were not cleaning up spills. They were providing information about environmentally sensitive land and species at risk."

   Sweet said 42 of 579 Environment Canada employees in B.C.-Yukon will be "impacted" by the budget cuts, adding some would be moved and some laid off. Many of the affected workers are based at Environment Canada's offices on Burrard Street.

   The action was criticized in light of recent proposals to increase the number of oil tankers in Vancouver Harbour by a factor of five.

   Peter Julian, NDP MP for BurnabyNew Westminster, said the cuts were the "pinnacle of irresponsibility."

   "This government is cutting essential services, but is willing to spend billions on pet projects like the F-35 fighter jet," he said. "It's astounding.

   "These decisions are not being made in B.C. They are being made by a minister's office in Ottawa."

   Last week, pipeline operator Kinder Morgan said it hopes to increase capacity on its Edmonton to Burnaby line to 850,000 barrels a day.

   The company said the hike, if approved, would result in about 360 oil tankers using Vancouver Harbour annually, up from the current 70.

   Burnaby resident Judi Marshall, a member of Burnaby Residents Against Chevron Expansion, a community-based group that monitors spills, said the environmental responders' job is "very important."

   "If you take the head person away, how do you co-ordinate all the different jurisdictions?" she asked.

   WHAT DO YOU THINK?

   Comment on this story online at theprovince.com or email us at provletters@theprovince.com. Include your name and address.

   kspencer@theprovince.com ILLUS: Ric Ernst, PNG / Environment Canada offices on Burrard Street in Vancouver. Federal employees responsible for reacting to oil spills are among dozens who are victims of the Conservative government's budget cuts.