Canada announces $1.5 billion in new investments for clean drinking water in First Nations communities

From: Indigenous Services Canada

As we work towards a more inclusive Canada, we must also make sure that basic needs are met. However, this is not always the case when it comes to the lived reality in Indigenous communities today. While most Canadians have access to clean and reliable drinking water, many First Nation communities still face pressing water issues; something that has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Centuries of colonial policies and consistent underfunding of water-related services and systems has affected overall quality of life, widened socio-economic gaps and reduced First Nations’ participation in the economy. Stronger and healthier communities, with better community infrastructure, leads to more prosperous communities.

Today, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, announced more than $1.5 billion in additional investments to accelerate work to lift all long-term drinking water advisories on reserves, and $114.1 million per year ongoing thereafter to support daily operations and maintenance for water infrastructure on reserves. This funding will support First Nations in their work to provide reliable and secure access to clean water in their communities. It will also offer stable and long-term funding for the cost of operations and maintenance.; an area that has been under-funded for far too long, yet is critical to ensuring the lasting impacts of these investments. With this new funding, the Government of Canada is standing with First Nations partners to meet these basic needs and ensure access to clean and safe drinking water for generations to come.

Providing First Nations communities with the resources they need to operate and maintain their water systems is central to creating long-lasting solutions. To support daily operations and maintenance, and do so even after water advisories are lifted, we will allocate $616.3 million over six years, and $114.1 million per year ongoing thereafter, to First Nations on reserves. This new investment will provide reliable and lasting funding to ensure water infrastructure can be maintained in good condition – ensuring longer lifecycles and more durable systems. It will also mean problems with the water systems can be caught earlier and will help prevent future long-term drinking water advisories. This funding will also support training for water operators, and help communities to better retain qualified operators for years to come.

Building and improving water infrastructure is also a core component of any work to provide access to clean and reliable drinking water. As such, today’s investment also includes $553.4 million to continue funding water and wastewater infrastructure on reserve to prevent future drinking water advisories from occurring.

Additionally, $309.8 million will be allocated to support and 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.

The Government of Canada will also work to support First Nations-led initiatives to create water and wastewater service delivery centres that can provide technical expertise on system maintenance and operations to multiple First Nations communities.

The Government of Canada will continue to work in partnership with First Nations on long-term and sustainable solutions so that communities will continue to have access to safe drinking water for generations to come. With this new funding, we continue to make progress on closing the infrastructure gaps on reserve, supporting prosperous and healthy First Nation communities.

Quotes

“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.”

The Honourable Marc Miller

Minister of Indigenous Services

Quick facts

  • Between November 2015 and November 2020, through the work done in partnership with First Nation communities and other partners, 97 long-term drinking water advisories have been lifted and 171 short-term advisories were prevented from becoming long-term.

  • Since 2016, the Government of Canada has made $2.19 billion in commitments to First Nations to build and repair water and wastewater infrastructure and support effective management and maintenance of water systems on reserves. $1.65 billion of this has been invested in 626 water and wastewater projects in 581 First Nations communities, serving approximately 462,000 people.

  • All First Nations communities now have access to trained personnel to sample and test drinking water quality, which is being monitored regularly. As a result, First Nations and the Government of Canada are better able more quickly detect and address potential problems in water systems.

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