Federal cuts to the Environment department have cost the territory a management job and may weaken oversight.
Environment Canada’s Yukon manager of environmental protection operations no longer exists, the News has learned.
The loss will result in a totally different reporting relationship with Ottawa, according to sources within Environment Canada.
The environmental protection office in Whitehorse will now report to a manager based in Vancouver, said Paula Franchellini, Environment Canada’s spokesperson.
The decision to terminate the position, effective September 15th of this year, was part of a strategy to “refine” the reporting process, said Franchellini.
She would not confirm who lost their job. However, sources in the Whitehorse office confirmed manager Dan Lindsey’s position had been eliminated.
Franchellini also skirted questions about whether other similar management positions in the rest of the country have been terminated. No job losses have taken place, she said in an e-mail.
The entire directorate of environmental protection operations has been undergoing re-organization since the late summer of 2007, said Chantal Lecours, spokesperson for the Professional Institute of the Public Service.
The institute has been in consultation with Environment Canada over the changes, she said. Lindsey is not part of the union.
Franchellini made no mention of any re-organization plan, instead only using the word “refine” to describe the changes being made.
These events usually come from senior levels of the government, such as deputy ministers, said sources at Environment Canada, but there was no confirmation from Franchellini about who approved the termination.
There have been several changes in reporting relationships in the region, said Lecours.
Despite the new structure coming into place on September 15th, Whitehorse staff have yet to receive formal letters on their new reporting relationships, added Lecours.
Environmental protection operations officials are still trying to sort out which division of the federal department will take over the roles previously held by the protection manager, according to sources in Environment Canada.
Lindsey oversaw environmental assessment reports dealing with large impact projects, including the possible construction of an Alaskan natural gas pipeline, fossil fuel exploration in the Beaufort Sea, wildlife protection for species, such as the Porcupine caribou herd, and various mining operations, said sources.
The manager also dealt with environmental emergencies in the territory and was also in charge of overseeing permits associated with contaminated sites, such as the tailings in Faro.
Lindsey also advised the Yukon Territory Water Board and agencies overseeing wildlife management, added sources.
The job operates at the discretion of regulations in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act as well as the Fisheries Act, said sources.
The act includes regulations that assess the risk to the environment from emissions, fuels and hazardous waste, according Environment Canada’s website.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Iqaluit last week to announce his plans to ease regulation of northern natural resource projects if elected into power.
“Current development and regulatory structures in the North are overly complex and often are major barriers to growth,” said the news release.
Environmental protection has achieved a new cachet during this federal election.
On Thursday, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May told the Toronto Star editorial board that environmental groups in Canada are being muzzled by fear that they will lose funding or their charitable status if they criticize Ottawa.
“That is why I went into politics, because every group in this country is being muzzled at the very time that they need to get their voices raised the loudest,” said May.