Speaking to reporters in Ottawa on Thursday alongside representatives from several of Canada’s First Nations communities, Patty Hajdu, federal minister of Indigenous services, provided an update on the progress underway and announced that the claims period is open for the settlement agreement resolving national class action litigation related to safe drinking water in First Nations communities.
The minister also reiterated her government’s commitment to Canada’s First Nations communities to provide support in dealing with any new outbreaks of COVID-19.
For years, First Nations across Canada have suspected that cases of skin conditions, stomach illnesses, cancer, bacterial contamination, birth defects and even deaths could be attributed to poor water quality in their communities.
In a 2016 review of 16 studies published between 2000 and 2015, researchers at the University of Saskatchewan found several health concerns with respect to poor drinking water in First Nations across the country. According to the review, gastrointestinal illnesses, skin problems and birth defects were reported as some of the most common ailments.