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Lake Winnipeg may see federal dollars flowing from Ottawa

Lake Winnipeg is pictured in this file image. (Source: CTV News Winnipeg) Lake Winnipeg is pictured in this file image. (Source: CTV News Winnipeg)

Lake Winnipeg may be seeing some federal dollars flowing its way.

The 2023 federal budget proposes $650 million over 10 years starting in 2023/24 going towards monitoring, assessment and restoration work in several rivers and lakes including Lake Winnipeg and Lake of the Woods.

It is something the Lake Winnipeg Foundation has been waiting to hear for years. In 2021, the Federal Liberals promised $1 billion for freshwater action over 10 years.

"This year, we didn't quite get the $1 billion, but we did get a fairly significant investment over 10 years for freshwater protection across the country," Alexis Kanu, the executive director of the Lake Winnipeg Foundation, told CTV News.

As for how much Lake Winnipeg will actually see, that remains to be seen. Ottawa has already promised $420 million in funding over 10 years for the Great Lakes.

Whatever the dollar amount, Kanu said the foundation will be pushing for evidence-based investment in phosphorus reduction.

"We really want to see this funding, however much the total ends up being for Lake Winnipeg, we want to see it directed to phosphorus hotspots where it will have the biggest impact and improving water quality and Lake Winnipeg," she said.

The Lake Winnipeg Foundation is also wanting to see the funding bring Indigenous people into water governance.

"For too long Indigenous rights holders and Indigenous governments have been excluded from water decision-making," she said. "This new 10-year freshwater funding program provides an opportunity to start to correct some of those long-standing wrongs."

With Lake Winnipeg being the world's 10th largest freshwater lake by surface area, Kanu said this investment is important for the lake's future.

"We really need to protect it to make sure that the lake country continues to contribute to our well-being and to our livelihoods," she said.

The budget also proposes the creation of a Canada Water Agency to be headquartered in Winnipeg, with $85.1 million over five years starting this year. The budget says by the end of 2023, the federal government will introduce legislation it says will fully establish the agency as a standalone entity.

—With files from CTV News' Charles Lefebvre Top Stories

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