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Ontario Protecting Environment from Harmful Invasive Species

Press Release

June 20, 2024

YORK REGION —The Ontario government is investing $16 million over three years to protect the economy and environment from the threat of invasive species. The grant funding will help municipalities, conservation authorities and Indigenous communities help stop invasive species from establishing or spreading in the province.

“Invasive species are one of the main threats to biodiversity in Ontario and they also have a negative impact on our economy,” said Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources. “This investment is the latest step our government is taking to protect Ontario’s critical industries as well as our natural environment to ensure we can continue to enjoy the natural beauty in our province.”

The funding will be administered by the Invasive Species Centre and Nature Conservancy of Canada to support a comprehensive, Ontario-wide plan to fight the invasive plant Phragmites, and for the Invasive Species Action Fund to provide grants to municipalities, conservation authorities and Indigenous communities to manage other harmful invasive species.

“Invasive species pose a serious threat to our environment and can have devastating impacts on community staples such as agriculture businesses and our parks and rivers,” said Dawn Gallagher, MPP, Newmarket-Aurora. “By funding organizations to manage and prevent the spread of these species, we are taking crucial steps to preserve the natural beauty and stability of Newmarket-Aurora for future generations.”

In 2019, the Invasive Species Centre estimated that the potential impacts of invasive species to agricultural, fisheries, forestry, health care, tourism and the recreation industry may be as high as $3.6 billion per year in Ontario.

To further prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species in the province, Ontario recently added 10 new non-native species and four genera (groups of species) under the Invasive Species Act, 2015 and is renewing the Ontario Invasive Species Strategic Plan to ensure we have the most robust plan possible in place.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario invested $5 million in 2023-24 to support ongoing research, monitoring, and management of invasive species through programs and education across the province.
  • The Invasive Species Act, 2015 currently lists 42 species, four groups, one family and two carriers. The Act provides legislative tools to prohibit and restrict certain invasive species, as well as carriers that facilitate the movement of invasive species.
  • Ontario has the highest number of invasive species in Canada. Once established, invasive species can harm the natural environment and are extremely difficult and costly to control or eradicate.


“Invasive species have economic, environmental and social impacts on forests, lands and waters. This new investment will increase monitoring, early detection and rapid response to reduce the spread of invasive species. This investment will also support on-the-ground action projects led by community groups, Indigenous communities, municipalities and local partners to increase the management of invasive species across Ontario.”

– Sarah Rang
Executive Director, Invasive Species Centre

“The Nature Conservancy of Canada celebrates the Government of Ontario’s investment in this important program to manage invasive species such as phragmites, in priority natural areas across the province. This initiative will support municipalities and partner organizations in taking a collaborative approach to protecting critical infrastructure, restoring sensitive habitats for species-at-risk, and ensuring a healthier environment for people in Ontario to enjoy.”

– Dana Kleniewski
Vice President, Ontario, Nature Conservancy of Canada

“Emerging invasive species pose a real threat for York Region’s trees and woodlands. We continue to assess risks and impacts of concerning species like hemlock woolly adelgid, oak wilt and spotted lanternfly. Investments in managing invasive species in Ontario will support continued action, including a focus on prevention, early detection and coordinated approaches among all levels of government and other key stakeholders.”

– Wayne Emmerson
Chairman and CEO, Regional Municipality of York

Additional Resources

Related Topics

Environment and Energy

Learn more about how Ontario protects and restores wildlife and the environment. Includes information on conservation and the electricity system. Learn more

Rural and North

Information about the province’s Far North and rural communities. Get connected to business improvement organizations and learn more about funding and programs that support rural, northern and Indigenous communities. Learn more

Media Contacts

Media Desk
Communications Services Branch

Melissa Candelaria
Minister’s Office


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