The federal government remains steadfast and on track in its commitment to end all long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserves by March 2021.
Today, the Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Indigenous Services, provided the department’s monthly progress update on the government’s commitment to end long-term drinking water advisories.
In July 2019, two long-term advisories and one short-term advisory at risk of becoming long-term were lifted from public systems on reserves.
Working to resolve short-term advisories is also an important part of the overall efforts underway, alongside hundreds of water and wastewater infrastructure projects on reserves across the country. Since November 2015, 130 short-term drinking water advisories (lasting between two and 12 months) were lifted before becoming long-term.
Long-term drinking water advisories lifted in July 2019:
- Standing Buffalo, in Saskatchewan, lifted a long-term drinking water advisory from their community water system as of July 10, 2019, following repairs and operational improvements. The advisory had been in effect since May 9, 2018.
- God’s Lake First Nation, in Manitoba, lifted a long-term drinking water advisory from the God’s Lake Austin Nazzie Pump House Public Water System on July 29, 2019, following upgrades to the system. The advisory had been in effect since April 24, 2005.
Short-term drinking water advisories lifted before becoming long-term:
- Slate Falls Nation, in Ontario, lifted a short-term drinking water advisory from their community water system on July 11, 2019. The advisory was in effect since August 29, 2018 when technical deficiencies related to monitoring and data logging from the installed equipment were identified. ISC supported the First Nation as it worked with their consultant and contractor to ensure that deficiencies were addressed.
Through Budget 2016, the Government of Canada committed $1.8 billion over five years to improve water and wastewater infrastructure and set a goal of March 2021 to end all long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserves. Budget 2019 committed an additional $739 million over five years, beginning in 2019-2020, with $184.9 million per year ongoing.
The number of long-term drinking water advisories affecting public systems on reserves has declined from 105 in November 2015, to 56 as of July 31, 2019.
Through budget investments in water and wastewater infrastructure on reserves across the country, 561 projects are either underway or have been completed.
First Nations and the Government of Canada will continue this important work to lift the remaining long-term drinking water advisories on public systems, complete the water and wastewater projects underway now, and bridge the gap in essential infrastructure on reserves.
“Our commitment to clean, reliable drinking water for First Nations across the country is unwavering. I am proud of the progress made this month; lifting two long-term drinking water advisories, and preventing a short-term advisory from becoming long-term. There is more work ahead, but we’re working shoulder-to-shoulder with communities to lift the 56 remaining advisories by March 2021, as promised.”
The Honourable Seamus O’Regan, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Indigenous Services
A drinking water advisory becomes long-term when it has been in place for more than a year.
Short-term drinking water advisories are precautionary public health measures in place for less than a year. They are issued when the safety of the drinking water cannot be guaranteed.
Since November 2015, 87 long-term advisories have been lifted, 39 have been added, and one system with a long-term drinking water advisory was deactivated.
Working in collaboration with First Nations, the Government of Canada has committed to ending all long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserves by March 2021.
Budget 2016 provided $1.8 billion over five years towards water and wastewater infrastructure.
Budget 2017 committed an additional $49.1 million over three years towards improving access to safe drinking water.
Budget 2018 provides 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 prior to 2021. Budget 2018 also provides support for repairs to high risk water systems, recruitment, training and retention initiatives, and the establishment of innovative First Nations-led service delivery models.
Budget 2019 commits an additional $739 million over five years, beginning in 2019-2020, with $184.9 million per year ongoing. The investment will support ongoing efforts to eliminate and prevent long-term drinking water advisories – funding urgent repairs to vulnerable water systems and providing water operator training and support programs so that First Nations communities can effectively operate and maintain their public drinking water systems.
Through the Investing in Canada Plan, the Government of Canada is investing more than $180 billion over 12 years in public transit projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation routes, and Canada’s rural and northern communities.