Ontario slashes conservation authority funding for flood programs

Ontario conservation authorities say the provincial government has cut their funding for flood management programs in half.    

Conservation Ontario, which represents the province's 36 conservation authorities, say impacts of the cuts will be felt immediately, particularly in smaller and more rural areas.   

Ontario had given $7.4 million to the conservation authorities for that work, but they say that has now been reduced by 50 per cent.   

Conservation authorities forecast flooding and issue warnings, monitor stream flow, regulate development activities in flood plains, educate the public about flooding and protect natural cover that helps reduce the impacts of flooding.    

Natural Resources and Forestry Minister John Yakabuski says the government is trying to eliminate the deficit _ currently at $11.7 billion _ and has asked conservation authorities to focus on their core mandate.   

He says a small percentage of conservation authorities' funding comes from the province, and some have told him this won't affect their ability to deal with flood management.