Number of long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserve
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Drinking water advisories are public health protection notifications about real or potential health risks related to drinking water. In November 2015, the Government of Canada committed to ending all long-term drinking water advisories on public water systems on reserve. This indicator shows progress towards lifting these advisories.
- In November 2015, there were 105 drinking water advisoriesFootnote 1 on public systems on reserve
- As of September 30, 2020, the total number of drinking water advisories has decreased from a baseline number of 105 to 58, which represents a 55% net decrease
- The greatest net reduction of advisories (11) occurred in February 2018Footnote 2
Progress on long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserve as of September 30, 2020, Canada, 2015 to 2020
Data table for the long description
|Month||Number of long-term drinking water advisories added||Number of long-term drinking water advisories resolved||Long-term drinking water advisories remaining|
Note: n/a = not applicable.
Download data file (Excel/CSV; 1.85 kB)
Note: The graph shows the number of long-term drinking water advisories remaining in effect at the end of each month from the baseline number of 105 advisories.
Source: Indigenous Services Canada (2020) Ending long-term drinking water advisories.
Drinking water advisories are issued in off-reserve communities across Canada by the relevant municipal, provincial or territorial government.
In First Nations communities, it is the responsibility of the Chief and Council to issue or rescind a drinking water advisory and take necessary actions.
A drinking water advisory is considered long-term when it has been in place for more than a year. This generally happens when a water system is not functioning well for a variety of reasons, for example, because of equipment malfunction and/or operational issues which prevent the system from treating water to the required quality.
While a drinking water advisory is in effect residents must either purchase water, boil water or otherwise ensure their drinking water is purified.
About the indicator
What the indicator measures
In November 2015, the Government of Canada committed to ending all long-term drinking water advisories affecting approximately 800 federally funded public water systems on reserves by 2021. At that time, a baseline was established which included 77 advisories in effect in 53 First Nations communities.
In January 2018, approximately 250 additional public drinking water systems were added to the number of systems included in the commitment, as part of an expanded scope. Taking into account the additional systems that were affected by long-term drinking water advisories, the baseline from November 2015 was revised to 105 long-term drinking water advisories in effect in 67 communities.
Results for long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserve, along with a map of the communities affected, may be found at Indigenous Services Canada's website on ending long-term drinking water advisories.
Why this indicator is important
Drinking water advisories inform those impacted about actions they should take to protect themselves from real or potential health risks related to their drinking water supply.
Although Canada's drinking water is among the safest in the world, understanding key trends related to drinking water advisories helps identify priorities to improve our drinking water systems. To help improve the safety and sustainability of drinking water in Canada, natural ecosystems from which drinking water is drawn may be assessed and revitalization efforts brought to affected ecosystems. In addition, improvements or upgrades to drinking water infrastructure and operations may help reduce drinking water advisories in Canada.
This indicator tracks progress on the 2019 to 2022 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, supporting the target: All Canadians have access to safe drinking water and, in particular, the significant challenges Indigenous communities face are addressed. The most recent data available shows that, as of September 30, 2020, the total number of drinking water advisories was reducedFootnote 3 to 58 from 105, representing a 55% overall decrease.
The Drinking water advisories indicator provides a long-term national view of why drinking water advisories are issued, whether it is due to water quality or equipment and process-related issues.
Data sources and methods
The data for this indicator come from Indigenous Services Canada.
Indigenous services Canada supports First Nations communities in establishing their own drinking water quality monitoring programs and provides related funding through its Community-Based Water Monitor program.
Community-based drinking water quality monitors sample and test the drinking water for potential bacteriological contamination as a final check on the overall safety of the drinking water at tap. If a community does not have a community-based drinking water quality monitor, an environmental health officerFootnote 4 will sample and test drinking water quality, with the community's permission. Environmental health officers test drinking water quality for chemical, physical, and radiological contaminants and maintain quality assurance and quality control. They also review and interpret drinking water quality tests and disseminate the results to First Nations communities. In all situations, if the drinking water is found not to be safe for drinking, the environmental health officer will immediately communicate the appropriate recommendation(s) to the Chief and Council for action, such as issuing a drinking water advisory.
A drinking water advisory automatically becomes a long-term drinking water advisory once it has been in existence for a year.
Indigenous Services Canada records when drinking water advisories are issued and when they become a long-term drinking water advisory. This information is maintained in a database and updated as new data becomes available.
In this update, an expanded baseline number of 105 long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserve is used. The previous update was based on an original set of about 800 drinking water systems financially supported by Indigenous Services Canada in First Nations communities and did not include approximately 250 additional public drinking water systems on reserve added in January 2018.
Caveats and limitations
This indicator is a snapshot of the progress towards eliminating the 105 long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserve as of September 30, 2020. Advisories may be added and/or resolved in any given month. The total reported in this indicator represents the net change from the baseline number of 105.
The number of long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserve is not static and the data are updated frequently in response to changing situations. Results for long-term drinking water advisories on reserve, along with a map of the affected communities, may be found at Indigenous Services Canada's website: Ending long-term drinking water advisories.
The data on the number of long-term drinking water advisories that are in place and that have been resolved are overall numbers. They are not broken down by type of advisory (boil water, do not consume, do not use).
Indigenous Services Canada (2020) Ending long-term drinking water advisories. Retrieved on October 2, 2020.
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