Government of Canada progress update on improving access to clean water in First Nations communities
From: Indigenous Services Canada
August 4, 2021 — Ottawa, unceded Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada
First Nations communities, with support from the Government of Canada, continue to make significant progress in ending all long-term drinking water advisories on reserve and building sustainable solutions to support access to safe, clean drinking water now and into the future.
Today, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) provided an update on the progress toward clean drinking water in all First Nations communities. As of August 3, 2021, 32 First Nations communities across Canada are working to resolve 51 long-term drinking water advisories. In total, First Nations communities have lifted 108 long-term drinking water advisories, restoring reliable access to safe drinking water for approximately 6,350 homes and 467 buildings in 79 communities since November 2015.
The work continues and there are initiatives underway to ensure all First Nations communities have long-term, reliable access to safe drinking water. Lhoosk’uz Dene Nation in British Columbia has completed construction of a new water treatment plant, which will provide the community with clean water for years to come. ISC was proud to support approximately $2.8 million towards this project. Nibinamik First Nation in Ontario has started construction to upgrade and expand their water treatment system. When complete, this critical work will put the community in a position to resolve the long-term drinking water advisory that has been in effect since February 2013.
ISC also committed an additional $37M for the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation Water Treatment Plant project estimated at $59 million. This project will improve water infrastructure on reserve and support the lifting of the long-term drinking water advisory. ISC is also providing funding for two priority water and wastewater projects in Wabaseemoong Independent Nations. The Department will be providing an additional $2.4M for upgrades to the First Nation’s water treatment and water distribution systems that, once complete, will support the lifting of their long-term drinking water advisory. ISC will also be providing an additional $391,936 to support emergency repairs to the First Nation’s wastewater treatment plant and lift station.
Progress on eliminating all long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserves
Three short-term drinking water advisories in Saskatchewan, lasting between two and 12 months, have been lifted since July 6, 2021, including Birch Narrows Dene Nation and Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation. This brings the total to 186 short-term advisories prevented from becoming long term since November 2015.
Snapshot of progress made on lifting long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserves since November 2015:
- 67.9% of long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserves have been lifted.
- 20.7% of long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserves are being addressed by projects that are currently in the construction phase.
- 8.8% of long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserves are being addressed by projects where construction is complete. Final steps to lift these advisories are underway.
- 1.3% of long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserves are being addressed by projects that are in the design phase.
- 1.3% of long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserves are being addressed by a feasibility study to determine an appropriate solution.
“In our work to ensure improved access to clean drinking water, preventing short-term advisories from becoming long term is essential. Three short-term advisories in Saskatchewan were lifted before becoming long term. Our work continues to lift all remaining LTDWAs as soon as possible.”
The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services
- A drinking water advisory becomes long-term when it has been in place for more than one year. In November 2015, there were 105 long-term drinking water advisories affecting public systems on reserves. Between November 2015 and August 3, 2021, 108 long-term advisories affecting public systems on reserves were lifted. 51 remain in effect in 32 First Nations.
- As of March 31, 2021, more than $2.05 billion of targeted funds has been allocated to support 733 water and wastewater projects in 581 First Nations communities, serving approximately 463,000 people. A total of 407 of these projects are complete.
- In December 2020, the Government of Canada announced an additional $1.5 billion to help accelerate the work being done to end all long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserves, to better support the operation and maintenance (O&M) of systems, and to continue program investments in water and wastewater infrastructure. This funding includes $616.3 million over six years, and $114.1 million ongoing, to increase the support provided for O&M of water and wastewater infrastructure on reserves.
- With these recent investments combined, by 2025 Canada will increase the annual funding it provides to support the O&M of water and wastewater systems on a permanent basis by almost four times.
- The increase in O&M funding has already started is already being disbursed directly to First Nations, with $150 million in O&M top-ups having been provided by the end of 2020-21. The funding will enable an increase to 100%, up from 80%, of formula-based funding for O&M and will support First Nations to better sustain the approximately 1,200 water and wastewater systems across the country.
- 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 rural and northern communities in Canada.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services
Indigenous Services Canada