2018 Ontario Provincial Election
Priorities for the next Government of Ontario
There are many topics Ontario’s outdoors community would like to see addressed by the next provincial government. During the 2018 election, we want political parties to focus on three main themes – Investment in Conservation, Sound Fish & Wildlife Management, and Fishing & Hunting Opportunities. These priorities should help shape the natural resources mandate for Ontario’s next government.
OFAH Election Podcast #2
OFAH Manager of Fish and Wildlife Services Matt DeMille talks about the priorities and promises each Ontario party has laid out ahead of the 2018 Provincial Election. Have a listen. Be informed. Cast your vote.
OFAH Election Podcast #1
With the 2018 Provincial Election fast approaching, the OFAH has made it a priority to bring into focus the issues that matter most to Ontario’s anglers, hunters and trappers. Recently, OFAH Manager of Fish and Wildlife Services Matt DeMille took some time to discuss the OFAH election questionnaire that was sent to all four major parties, other priorities we want Ontario’s next provincial government to focus on, and why votes from the outdoors community matter.
- Questions We Asked
- Priorities: Sound Fish & Wildlife Management
- Priorities: Investment in Conservation
- Priorities: Fishing and Hunting Opportunities
Questions we’ll be asking all political parties leading into the election:
If you form the next government…
- Will you increase MNRF’s Fish & Wildlife budget by increasing Consolidated Revenue Fund investments to match the contributions anglers, hunters and trappers make through the Fish & Wildlife Special Purpose Account?
- Will you conduct a critical review of moose management in Ontario, and make value-added investments? If so, tell us how.
- What strategies will you use to ensure more certainty for public access to Crown lands in northern Ontario?
- Will you restore the spring bear hunt permanently?
- Will you re-evaluate the proposed baitfish policies and eliminate unnecessary restrictions like banning angler use of bait in waterway class parks?
- Will you commit to not expanding wolf/coyote hunting and trapping bans?
- Will you establish a dedicated community conservation fund (similar to the former Community Fish & Wildlife Involvement Program) to support volunteer-led conservation initiatives?
- What actions will you take to promote the value of fishing, hunting and trapping?
- Are there any other fish and wildlife conservation priorities for your party?
Conduct a critical review of moose management. Research, population assessment, evaluation of habitat creation through forestry, direct engagement of Indigenous communities, and establishment of a Provincial Moose Technical Committee are a few areas in need of increased investment.
Expand black bear hunting opportunities. Remove the pilot status of the spring hunt and restore it as a permanent component of sustainable bear management. In addition, remove unnecessary baiting policies and assess the potential to expand hunting to Wildlife Management Units in bear range currently without a season.
Increase efforts to work with Indigenous communities to achieve conservation priorities. Cooperative approaches between Indigenous communities, government and non-government organizations will be essential in ensuring the sustainable management of Ontario’s fish and wildlife for future generations.
Rescind illogical proposed baitfish policies. Certain components of the MNRF’s proposed Strategic Policy for Bait Management in Ontario simply don’t make sense, such as the elimination of angler use of bait in waterway class parks.
Do not expand wolf/coyote hunting bans. Increasing protection for wolves and coyotes is not necessary.
Scientific evidence must inform all wildlife management decisions. Decision-making must be informed by applied scientific research to prevent unnecessary reductions in sustainable hunting opportunities (e.g. 2017 reduction of snowshoe hare season in northern Ontario).
Address the overabundance of cormorants. Cormorants are destroying entire ecosystems. Active control and removal of the unnecessary protection under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act is required.
MNRF needs to take a leadership role in water levels, flows and dam decision-making. The fate of thousands of privately-owned obsolete dams, as well as management all regulated systems (e.g. Trent-Severn Waterway) must consider fisheries and ecologically sound water level/flow mandates.
The value of fishing, hunting and trapping must be recognized. Some government policies default to no fishing, hunting or trapping without just cause. MNRF needs a guiding policy that enshrines sustainable use as an essential component of fish and wildlife conservation.
Move to a multi-species, ecosystem-based approach to species at risk management. Refocusing species at risk programming away from single species management, and fully recognizing other conservation-based legislation would be a more effective and efficient use of resources.
Establish stronger penalties and better enforcement to prevent trespassing. The government needs to evaluate how penalties are assessed and enforced under the Trespass to Property Act to better protect landowners.
Ontario’s fish and wildlife deserve more funding. Anglers, hunters and trappers pay for 2/3 of MNRF’s fish and wildlife budget, but all Ontarians benefit from this investment. It’s time we rely less on the outdoors community to pay for conservation.
Fish & Wildlife Special Purpose Account (SPA) spending must be as transparent as possible. Anglers, hunters and trappers spend their hard-earned dollars on licence fees with an expectation that they will be spent wisely.
Dedicated funding for community conservation stewardship. Modest government investments in community volunteer projects can be leveraged into huge conservation benefits.
Strong government promotion of fishing, hunting and trapping. Investments are needed in dedicated programs focused on promotion. Some programming should target new Canadians to engage them in the outdoors, and other programs should focus on recruitment, retention and reactivation.
Incorporate the principles of conservation, such as sustainable use, in school curriculums. The future of conservation depends on the next generation of Ontarians, and they need to fully understand the important role of sustainable use in fish and wildlife management.
Boost surveillance, prevention, treatment and research efforts related to Lyme Disease. The growing prevalence of Lyme disease in Ontario necessitates enhanced government investment.
Enhance private land habitat stewardship. Landowners are critical for conservation in Ontario. There is a need to strengthen investment in new and existing government (e.g. Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program) and non-government programs (e.g. ALUS Canada) to facilitate landowner engagement.
Maintain and grow OFAH-Ontario conservation programs. These partnerships include invasive species awareness, raising and releasing fish for public waters, restoring native species, engaging communities in family fishing activities and training new hunters.
A strategy to ensure public access to Crown lands. Crown land access is necessary for resource extraction, but is also critical for fishing, hunting, trapping and other recreational opportunities. Strategic planning that considers all Crown land access is needed and should occur outside of forest management planning.
Investment in fisheries management planning to optimize fishing opportunities. All existing Fisheries Management Zone (FMZ) councils should be re-engaged and new councils established where necessary, to create fish stocking plans in every FMZ to optimize fishing opportunities and species restoration.
Expand Sunday gun hunting opportunities to all of Ontario. Sunday gun hunting has proven to be very successful where adopted, so it is time to remove the municipal authority to make decisions on it.
Offer better customer service to anglers, hunters and trappers. There is a growing sentiment among the Outdoors Community that government does not provide adequate service through Service Ontario or sufficient accessibility to MNRF offices and staff.
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