Progress update on the Government of Canada's commitment to clean water in First Nations communities
March 10, 2021 — Ottawa, Traditional Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada
As the Government of Canada works towards ensuring all First Nations communities have reliable access to clean water, it remains committed to lifting all long-term drinking water advisories on First Nations reserves. Access to clean drinking water is essential.
Today, Indigenous Services Canada provided a progress update on this commitment. As of March 10, 2021, 101 long-term drinking water advisories have been lifted. This means that since November 2015, clean water access has been restored to approximately 5,850 homes and 430 community buildings in 73 First Nations communities. While 58 long-term advisories remain in 38 communities, project teams continue their work on each and every one. Information on each community's progress can be found on new and updated web pages at https://www.canada.ca/water-on-reserve.
Resolving short-term advisories before they become long-term is also an important part of the overall work to eliminate long-term drinking water advisories. Since November 2015, 175 short-term drinking water advisories (advisories lasting between two and 12 months) have been lifted before becoming long-term.
This past year has presented new challenges in meeting this objective. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the health and wellbeing of First Nations community members has been our shared top priority. First Nations have been leading the response to protect their communities from the virus, and in some cases this has had an effect on getting equipment and resources into communities, especially in remote and northern areas.
While we continue our collective efforts to address the ongoing pandemic, together, the Government of Canada and First Nations also remain focused on building long-term solutions to support sustainable access to safe, clean drinking water and restore trust in the water supply.
Since the pandemic began in March 2020, First Nations, with support from Indigenous Services Canada, have lifted 13 long-term drinking water advisories in the past 12 months, improving access to clean water for more than 1000 homes and 65 community buildings including schools, health facilities and band offices. During that same period, 24 short-term drinking water advisories were also lifted, preventing them from becoming long term issues, restoring reliable access to clean drinking water for hundreds more homes on reserves.
The Government of Canada has committed over $3.5 billion in funding to achieving clean drinking water on reserves since 2015. This includes $616.3 million over six years, and $114.1 million per year ongoing thereafter, to provide a stable and predictable source of funding for operations and maintenance costs, ensuring longer lifecycles and more durable systems, and enabling First Nations to better maintain their water and wastewater infrastructure over the long-term.
Progress on lifting long-term drinking water advisories
On March 9th, we celebrated the 100th and 101st lifts in Anishinabe of Wauzhushk Onigum and Xeni Gwet'in First Nations Government.
Additionally, this year, we recognize the achievements realized through close collaboration with the following communities:
- On January 23, 2021, Black Lake First Nation (Saskatchewan) lifted a long-term drinking water advisory that had been in effect since April 2013. Upgrades and expansion of the water treatment plant have improved access to clean drinking water for over 190 homes and 6 community buildings including the school, fire hall and band office.
- On December 23, 2021, Lake Manitoba (Manitoba) lifted a long-term drinking water advisory that had been in effect since June 2019. Connection of a new well has resulted in better access to clean drinking water for everyone who uses the Jordan's Principle Building.
- On November 9, 2020, Mishkeegogamang Ojibway Nation (Ontario) lifted a long-term drinking water advisory that had been in effect since October 2019. Repairs to the water system and improved operations have enabled improved access to clean drinking water for 75 homes and 6 community buildings.
- On September 30, 2020, Anishinabe of Wauzhushk Onigum Nation (Ontario) lifted a long-term drinking water advisory that had been in place since January 2017. Over 100 homes and 15 community buildings now have access clean, reliable water through a connection to the City of Kenora's water system.
- On September 30, 2020, Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation (Ontario) lifted a long-term drinking water advisory that had been in place since February 2019. Upgrades and repairs to their water system have enable improved access to clean drinking water for 40 homes and 7 community buildings.
- On September 30, 2020, Animakee Wa Zhing #37 First Nation (Ontario) lifted a long-term drinking water advisory that had been in effect since September 2002. Interim upgrades to the water system has restored access to clean water for 25 homes and 5 community buildings.
- On September 25, 2020, Fort Severn First Nation (Ontario) lifted a long-term drinking water advisory that had been in effect since February 2019. As a result of repairs to the water distribution system and improvements to water quality monitoring, over 90 homes and 6 community buildings now have better access to clean drinking water.
- On September 23, 2020, Grassy Narrows First Nation (Ontario) lifted the last remaining long-term drinking water advisory that had been in effect since June 2014. Upgrades to the water treatment system have brought clean drinking water to over 200 homes and 16 community buildings. All residents in the community now have access to clean drinking water.
- On September 10, 2020, Kehewin Cree Nation (Alberta) lifted a long-term drinking water advisory that had been in place since April 2011. A new water treatment plant and upgrades to water infrastructure have improved access to clean drinking water for over 300 homes homes and 11 community buildings. With this lift, no long-term drinking water advisories are currently in effect on public systems on reserves in Alberta.
- On August 28, 2020, Bonaparte (British Columbia) lifted a long-term drinking water advisory that had been in place since February 2006. All five homes in the community are connected to a new water treatment plant and have access to clean drinking water.
- On July 30, 2020, Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation (Manitoba) lifted a long-term drinking water advisory that had been in effect since April 2014. A new water treatment plant provides clean drinking water to over 40 homes and 7 community buildings.
- Between March 1, 2020 and March 3, 2021, eleven long-term drinking water advisories were added and two long-term drinking water advisories were de-activated.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone, with Indigenous communities facing even greater challenges. While the pandemic has also impacted construction work and project deadlines, we remain committed to ending all long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserves and improving access to safe drinking water. We will not stop until this work is done.”
The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services
A drinking water advisory becomes long-term when it has been in place for more than a year. Between November 2015 and March 10, 2021, 101 long-term advisories affecting public systems on reserves were lifted. 58 remain in effect in 38 First Nations.
As of September 30, 2020, more than $1.74 billion of targeted funds has been allocated to support 657 water and wastewater projects in 581 First Nations communities, serving approximately 462,000 people. A total of 365 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 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 operations and maintenance of water and wastewater infrastructure on reserves.
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.
- Achieving clean drinking water in First Nations communities
- Ending long-term drinking water advisories
- Investing in First Nations community infrastructure
- Lifecycle of a First Nation community infrastructure project
- Budget 2016 Highlights – Indigenous and Northern Investments
- Budget 2017 Highlights – Indigenous and Northern Investments
- Budget 2018 Highlights: Indigenous and Northern investments
- Budget 2019 Highlights: Indigenous and Northern investments
- Investing in Canada: Canada's Long-Term Infrastructure Plan
- Investing in Canada Plan Project Map
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services
Indigenous Services Canada
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