Canada: Over $1 Billion USD New Investment In Clean Water Supply For First Nations

8 Dec 2020 by Staff - Water Diplomat
OTTAWA, Canada

The Minister of Indigenous Services of the Government of Canada has announced $1.18 Billion USD in additional investments to accelerate work on lifting all long-term water advisories in First Nations communities.

The government acknowledged that consistent underfunding of water-related services and systems had affected the overall quality of life and had widened socio-economic gaps and reduced First Nations’ participation in the economy.

The 2 December commitment includes capital investment of about $435 Million USD to fund water and wastewater infrastructure to prevent future drinking water advisories from being imposed. In addition, the government committed support of $89 Million USD per annum for daily operations and maintenance for water infrastructure.

The investment is intended to provide reliable and lasting funding to ensure water infrastructure can be maintained in good condition, thereby ensuring longer lifecycles and more durable systems. The new investment will also assist in identifying water system issues earlier and help prevent future long-term drinking water advisories. The annual funding will also support training for water operators and help communities to better retain qualified operators for years to come.

A further $242 Million USD will be allocated to accelerate on-going work to lift all long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserves by helping to respond to project delays including those due to COVID-19.

Support will be given for First Nations-led initiatives to create and develop water and wastewater technical expertise on system operations and maintenance to multiple communities.

Minister of Indigenous Service, Marc Miller commented: “In 2015, this government began working with First Nations communities to improve access to safe drinking water. We will not stop until all long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserves are lifted and all First Nations communities on reserves have reliable access to clean and safe drinking water now and into the future. Today’s announcement makes tangible commitments to support stable and reliable infrastructure, in communities, and so for years to come.”

As recently as October, Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refused to commit to a pledge to end boil-water advisories on First Nations (Indigenous) communities by March 2021, saying that the government would continue to work to “lift the remaining drinking water advisories as soon as possible”.

At the time OOSKAnews reported that 61 of Canada’s First Nations communities were still being warned to boil water before use, not to consume it, or to avoid it altogether because of toxicity levels. High levels of hydrocarbons in the water supply prompted officials to shut off water in Neskantaga First Nation, forcing an evacuation of the entire community. Neskantaga has a population of about 460 people and has Canada’s longest running boil-water advisory at 25 years.