OTTAWA – Federal Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpot reports, “This month’s update on water advisories demonstrates some of the challenges faced as we work towards lifting all long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserve. As we work with hundreds of First Nation communities on new builds, water main extensions, and training water operators, we also monitor and support systems that may be at risk of becoming long-term”.
“While August saw the addition of one long-term advisory”, adds the Minister, “Indigenous Services Canada projects close to 20 advisories will be lifted before the end of 2018. We remain committed to transparency on this file, and I encourage all Canadians to follow progress at www.canada.ca/water-on-reserve.”
Minister Jane Philpott, of Indigenous Services Canada, has provided the following update as part of the department’s monthly report on long-term drinking water advisories:
- A long-term drinking water advisory was added in Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, Ontario after a short-term advisory had been in place for twelve months. Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is working with the community to make maintenance repairs to existing water infrastructure to restore safe drinking water.
Since November 2015, 67 long-term drinking water advisories have been lifted from public water systems on reserve, and 73 long-term drinking water advisories remain in effect.
The Minister reports, “Developments this month demonstrate the complexity of the challenge facing First Nation communities and the Government of Canada as we work together to end long-term drinking water advisories. Water quality is not static and many First Nation communities face challenges with poor water sources, insufficient water, and wastewater infrastructure and recruitment and retention of trained water system operators.
“While August may not have shown progress on the top-level number of advisories lifted, with support from Indigenous Services Canada, 359 water and wastewater projects to repair, upgrade or build infrastructure are now underway or complete in First Nation communities across the country. Another 51 water operator training and other supporting initiatives are underway or complete and 53 feasibility studies are underway to determine water and wastewater infrastructure needs.
“Through Budget 2016 and 2018 investments of almost $2 billion, First Nation communities and the Government of Canada and are working toward long-term solutions that will improve on-reserve water and wastewater infrastructure, ensure proper facility operation and maintenance and strengthen community capacity into the future. These steps will lift long-term drinking water advisories from public systems on reserve and prevent other short-term advisories from becoming long-term.
“The Government of Canada remains on track to lift all long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserve by March 2021 and it’s projected that at least 20 additional long-term advisories will have been lifted by the end of 2018.”
- Budget 2016 provided $1.8 billion over five years to significantly improve on-reserve water and wastewater infrastructure, ensure proper facility operation and maintenance, and support training of water system operators. In addition, Budget 2016 included $141.7 million over five years in new funding to improve drinking water monitoring and testing on reserve.
- Budget 2018 provided an additional $172.6 million over three years to help accelerate progress on lifting drinking water advisories and to ensure more infrastructure projects can be completed by 2020 instead of 2021. Budget 2018 also proposes support for repairs to high-risk water systems, recruitment, training and retention initiatives, and the establishment of innovative First Nations-led service delivery models.
- Since November 2015, 67 long-term drinking water advisories (those lasting one year or more) have been lifted from public water systems through the work done in collaboration with First Nation communities and other partners. Additionally, 35 drinking water advisories were added during that same time. ISC is working to address both long-term drinking water advisories affecting public systems on reserve and drinking water advisories at risk of becoming long-term.
- There are currently 73 long-term drinking water advisories affecting public systems on reserve.