In partnership with First Nations, more than 100 long-term drinking water advisories have now been lifted since 2015

From: Indigenous Services Canada

Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government in BC lifts a long-term drinking water advisory marking the 101st lift by First Nations since 2015, providing clean water to eight homes in their community.

March 10, 2021 – Ottawa, Traditional Algonquin Territory, Ontario – Indigenous Services Canada

As the Government of Canada works towards ensuring all First Nations communities have reliable access to clean water, it remains committed to lifting all long-term drinking water advisories on reserve in First Nations. Access to clean drinking water is essential.

Today, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, congratulated Anishinabe of Wauzhushk Onigum, Ontario, on the lifting of the last remaining long-term drinking water advisory in their community. The advisory had been in effect since 2012, and the lifting of this last advisory means improved access to clean water for the majority of residents in the community.

The First Nation lifted a long-term drinking water advisory in the fall of 2020 as well, following the connection of 106 homes and 15 community buildings to the city of Kenora’s water and wastewater systems. Work in the community also included the installation of 31 decentralized water treatment systems to homes outside the main areas of Second Portage and Bald Indian Bay.This work has improved access to clean, reliable drinking water, wastewater services, and fire protection. To support this work, the Government of Canada allocated $14.8 million to Anishinabe of Wauzhushk Onigum.

The most recent lifting by the Anishinabe of Wauzhushk Onigum marks the 100th long-term drinking water advisory lifted in a First Nation on reserve since November 2015, marking a significant accomplishment that First Nations communities have worked relentlessly to achieve, despite facing unprecedented challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minister also congratulated the Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government in B.C. on lifting the last remaining long-term drinking water advisory in their community, providing reliable access to clean water to eight homes. To do so, the First Nation piloted innovative Point-Of-Use LED-UV disinfection systems in each affected home. With support from the Government of Canada and the First Nations Health Authority, a monitoring and sampling program has shown that the units are providing clean water to residents, enabling the advisory to be lifted.

Though the pandemic has caused delays to a majority of infrastructure projects for almost a year now, First Nations communities have persevered, lifting 13 long-term drinking water advisories since March 2020. Today, the marking of the 100th and 101st lifts is a true representation of the dedication and determination of First Nations communities working tirelessly for better access to clean water.

The Government of Canada’s commitment to clean drinking water is about building a sustainable and durable foundation that ensures that First Nations communities have access to safe drinking water now and in the future. Reliable, robust infrastructure is key to achieving this, and since November 2015, First Nations, supported by the Government of Canada, have built 51 new water and wastewater treatment plants, with 47 more in development. They have also upgraded 241 water and wastewater systems, with upgrades to 177 more underway. The Government of Canada will continue to provide stable and predictable operations and maintenance funding so that First Nations are better able to prevent drinking water advisories from occurring in the first place. To do so, the 2020 Fall Economic Statement committed $616.3 million over six years, and $114.1 million per year thereafter, to increase operations and maintenance funding to cover up to 100 per cent of the formula costs of operations and maintenance.

The Government of Canada remains committed to ending all long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserves, and building sustainable, long-term solutions that meet the diverse needs of First Nations communities.

Quotes

“Our government is committed to ensuring all long-term drinking water advisories in First Nations communities are lifted. This work is not only about improving community infrastructure so that water is safe to drink, but also about restoring trust in the water supply and ensuring that future generations do not have to face the same challenges. Today we mark important milestones in this progress – the 100th and 101st long-term drinking water advisories being lifted. However, we recognize that there is still work to do, and we will not stop until all the work is done.”

The Honourable Marc Miller

Minister of Indigenous Services

“Safe drinking water is a basic human right, and my Council and community are grateful to Indigenous Services Canada and the many people who worked with us to find, fund and implement the infrastructure investments that have allowed us to achieve this very important outcome for the health and well being of our community.”

Chris Skead

Chief, Anishinabe of Wauzhushk Onigum

Quick facts

  • First Nations, in partnership with the Government of Canada, have lifted 101 long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserves since November 2015, and 58 long-term drinking water advisories remain in effect in 38 communities.

  • First Nations located in Ontario have lifted 42 long-term drinking water advisories since November 2015. Forty-four long-term drinking water advisories remain in effect in 26 First Nations communities.

  • First Nations located in British Columbia have lifted 18 long-term drinking water advisories since November 2015. Two long-term drinking water advisories remain in effect in two First Nations communities.

  • Since 2016, the Government of Canada has committed more than $3.5 billion to First Nations to build and repair water and wastewater infrastructure and support effective management and maintenance of water systems on reserves.

  • In December 2020, the Government of Canada announced nearly $1.5 billion in funding to help meet the Government’s commitment to clean drinking water in First Nations communities, and $114.1 million per year ongoing to increase support for daily operations and maintenance of water and wastewater infrastructure on reserves.

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