Read this story from the Victoria Times-Colonist on the Harper Government’s slashing of jobs at Environment Canada – including the nation’s whole contaminants program, which means one of the world’s leading experts on pollution in orca, Peter Ross, is out of a job. (May 22, 2012)
VICTORIA – Canada’s only marine mammal toxicologist at the Institute of Ocean Sciences on Vancouver Island is losing his job as the federal government cuts almost all employees who monitor ocean pollution across Canada.
Peter Ross, an expert on killer whales and other marine mammals, was the lead author of a report 10 years ago that demonstrated Canada’s killer whales are the most contaminated marine mammals on the planet. He has more than a 100 published reports.
Now, he’s a casualty of the Conservative’s budget cuts, one of 75 people across Canada told this past week his services will no longer be needed because the Department of Fisheries is closing the nation’s contaminants program.
For about a decade, Fisheries and Oceans has been trying to offload the program to Environment Canada, Ross said. Instead, this week, it axed it.
In total, 1,075 people working for the Department of Fisheries received letters Thursday telling them their jobs will be redundant or affected – including 215 in the Pacific Region.
The closure of DFO’s contaminants program in Victoria will see nine marine scientists and staff – two research scientists, a chemist and six support staff – based in North Saanich lose their jobs or be retrained and moved.
The entire Department of Fisheries and Oceans contaminants program is being shut down effective April 1, 2013. Official letters are expected to be delivered in June, and Ross said he’s been told he’ll have a few months to wrap up his files.
“The entire pollution file for the government of Canada, and marine environment in Canada’s three oceans, will be overseen by five junior biologists scattered across the country – one of which will be stationed in B.C.,” said Ross.
“I cannot think of another industrialized nation that has completely excised marine pollution from its radar,” said Ross, who was informed in a letter Thursday that his position will be “affected.”
“It is with apprehension that I ponder a Canada without any research or monitoring capacity for pollution in our three oceans, or any ability to manage its impacts on commercial fish stocks, traditional foods to over 300,000 aboriginal people, and marine wildlife,” Ross said.
Ross oversees pollution files including everything from municipal sewage and contaminated sites to the effect of pesticide on salmon and the impact of PCBs on killer whales.