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 June 2019, three short-term drinking water advisories at risk of becoming long-term were lifted from public systems on reserves while important work continues to lift the remaining long-term drinking water advisories on public systems. Working to resolve short-term advisories is an important part of the overall efforts underway alongside hundreds of water and wastewater infrastructure projects on-reserve across the country. No long-term drinking water advisories on public systems were lifted or added leaving the total lifted at 85 with 58 remaining on-track to be lifted by March 2021.
Short-term drinking water advisories lifted before becoming long-term:
- Blood, in Alberta, lifted a short-term advisory from the Standoff Public Water System on June 10 after planned system maintenance was completed. The advisory had been in effect since March 28, 2019. The First Nation lifted a second short-term advisory from the Whoop-up Public Water System on June 14 after inadequate disinfection at the treatment plan was remedied. The advisory had been in effect since March 25, 2019.
- Iskatewizaagegan #39 Independent First Nation, in Ontario, lifted a short-term advisory from the Shoal Lake #39 Public Water System on June 20 following repairs to the water line. The advisory had been in effect since March 15, 2019.
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 58 as of June 30, 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.
“Ensuring short-term drinking water advisories do not become long-term is equally important to our commitment to lift all long-term drinking water advisories by March 2021. I commend the people of Blood and Iskatewizaagegan #39 on lifting two short-term advisories. We are committed to our work with First Nations to bring safe drinking water to everyone in Canada.”
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.
In total, 85 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.
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, 129 short-term drinking water advisories (lasting between two and 12 months) were lifted before becoming long-term.
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.