Statement by Minister Carolyn Bennett - Government of Canada Steadfast in Commitment to End Long-Term Drinking Water Advisories On Reserve
Ottawa Ontario, (September 13, 2016) - The Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett, issued the following statement today:
"There is no debate. All Canadians should have access to safe, clean, reliable drinking water. Unfortunately, this is not the case in far too many First Nations communities.
We will never be able to truly renew the nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations until every family in every First Nation community in Canada is able to turn on their tap and drink the water.
I want to assure Canadians that our government fully intends to deliver on its commitment to end long-term drinking water advisories on reserves in the next five years but also, ensure that all the communities have sustainable systems.
I am proud that we are making significant progress. In June, Pic Mobert First Nation, opened a new water treatment plant which has put an end to two long term boil water advisories in their community. The approval of the funding for the Slate Falls First Nations water treatment was particularly significant. I remember watching families walking long distances across the community to fill their water bottles at the pump house during my visit in 2012. This project will eliminate nine boil water advisories which have been in place in the community for the past 12 years.
Budget 2016, committed historic investments of an additional $1.8 billion over five years, beginning this fiscal year, to accomplish our goal. Plus, we have committed another $141 million dollars over five years to improve water monitoring and testing and to help measure our progress.
These investments will help to increase capacity in First Nations communities to adequately maintain and operate their facilities through, among other things, enhanced training and certification of water system operators.
It needs to be said that this unprecedented level of investment more than doubles the targeted funding per year provided under the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan and directly responds to the needs identified in the National Assessment of First Nations Water and Wastewater Systems.
Severe underfunding over the past decades has created this unacceptable situation. Our government acknowledges that money alone will not solve these issues.
We are committed to partnering with First Nations communities on new approaches to ensure future projects are completed on time, and on-reserve water and wastewater systems are safe and better meet the needs of the community and at the same time increase their capacity to manage their own systems while using the most up-to-date remote monitoring systems where appropriate.
We hear clearly that Canadians are with us. From coast to coast to coast, Canadians have loudly applauded the investments in Budget 2016 to achieve safe, clean, reliable drinking water in all indigenous communities. We are committed to working together to make this promise a reality. We're going to get this done."
For more information, please contact:
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
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