Canada and Ontario invest in 37 clean water, wastewater and storm water infrastructure improvement projects for First Nation communities across the province

News release

Zhiibaahaasing First Nation, Ontario, March 18, 2021— All First Nation communities must have reliable access to clean water, as it is essential to their well-being. This work is not only about improving community infrastructure, but also about restoring trust in the water supply and ensuring that future generations do not have to face the same challenges. Together, Canada, Ontario and First Nation communities are working to ensure health and safety, rebuild businesses, and promote job creation, growth and investment.

Today, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Infrastructure and Communities; the Honourable Marc Miller, Canada’s Minister of Indigenous Services; the Honourable Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure and Member of Provincial Parliament for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock; the Honourable Greg Rickford, Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and the Ontario Minister of Indigenous Affairs, and Member of Provincial Parliament for Kenora—Rainy River; and Chief Irene Kells, Zhiibaahaasing First Nation , announced funding for clean water, wastewater and storm water infrastructure improvements in 37 First Nation communities across Ontario. 

The Government of Canada is investing more than $69.5 million in these projects through the Green Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada plan. The Government of Ontario is providing more than $16.9 million. The 37 communities are contributing a combined total of $5.8 million toward their respective projects. 

Among the projects funded, Zhiibaahaasing First Nation’s water storage and distribution systems will be upgraded, ensuring reliable access to clean drinking water, while also providing much-needed fire protection for residents. The project includes the installation of a new below-grade storage reservoir with high-lift distribution and fire pumps, as well as drinking water transmission pipes with fire hydrants. The storage reservoir will be part of a site already designated for the water treatment plant.

For Washagamis Bay First Nation, 1.2 kilometres of water main and 800 metres of water service lines will be replaced to better ensure reliable water service. Upgrades to ten septic fields will also prevent the contamination of groundwater, surface water and the environment.

The project in the Dokis First Nation will rehabilitate and expand the wastewater lagoon. The modifications involve implementation of a pre-treatment system and installation of electricity on-site. These improvements will enable the lagoon to meet current federal and provincial discharge requirements, reduce the accumulation of wastewater sediment and help meet current and future wastewater treatment demands.

Additional investments in First Nation water and wastewater management projects include; replacement of drinking water pipes, upgrades to communal drinking water systems, sewage system rehabilitations, wastewater treatment plan upgrades and replacements, well upgrades, subsurface septic system rehabilitation, stormwater management and water storage and distribution system upgrades.

All orders of government continue to work together with First Nations partners to make strategic infrastructure investments in communities across the province where they are needed most. 


“Clean drinking water and proper wastewater management are fundamental to building healthy, resilient communities. The Government of Canada is committed to fixing the Indigenous infrastructure deficit, and federal funding of over 70% for these projects across Ontario is another step toward the equality of opportunity that all Canadians should expect and demand. Canada’s infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs across the country, and builds cleaner, more inclusive communities.”

The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

“Today’s announcement reflects our continued commitment to ensure access to clean and safe drinking for First Nations communities, now and into the future, which first and foremost requires stable and reliable infrastructure. With this new funding, we continue to make progress on closing the infrastructure gaps on reserve, supporting prosperous and healthy First Nation communities.” 

The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services

“Ontario is pleased to work together with First Nation communities to nominate green stream projects under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program for provincial and federal funding. Of the 76 green stream projects Ontario nominated for federal approval more than half will benefit First Nation communities in critical need of improvements to their infrastructure. Today we are delighted to announce 37 of those project approvals which will go a long way to addressing the need for more reliable water, wastewater, sewer and drinking water infrastructure in these First Nations.”

The Honourable Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure, MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock

“Our government continues to work alongside Indigenous partners and the Federal Government to deliver targeted investments that ensure First Nation communities have upgraded and reliable water management infrastructure. Today’s announcement is critical for these 37 communities, and we look forward to more infrastructure investments for First Nation communities in the near future.”

The Honourable Greg Rickford, Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and the Ontario Minister of Indigenous Affairs, MPP for Kenora-Rainy River

“On behalf of the Zhiibaahaasing First Nation Community I want to say Miigwech (Thank you) for all the support and help we have received from everyone that was involved in this project. Water Distribution and Fire Protection has been a dream of Zhiibaahaasing First Nation for the past 30years. With the Approval of the Green Infrastructure Stream Funding we are one step closer to obtaining clean drinking water for our Community. We are currently on boil water advisory and have been since 1991. The New Distribution System will help eliminate what we currently have, concrete cisterns to hold our water, these cisterns are not for human drinking consumption; along with trucked water being delivered to each home, with multiple points of contamination. We had to decommission our Water Treatment Plant in the Spring of 2020. Due to high water and structural issues. We now have a portable package Water Treatment Plant in its place. We are in need of Funding to support a New Water Treatment Plant on higher ground and that will support our new Water Distribution System. To ensure we have clean potable water for Zhiibaahaasing First Nation for years to come. Miigwetch again for taking our project into consideration and for all the support we were given. Water is sacred and is a big part of our lives.”

Miigwech Chief Irene Kells, Zhiibaahaasing First Nation

"Wasauksing First Nation through its Public Works Department, was successful in obtaining funding approval from the Provincial and Federal Government to address a longstanding environmental concern of conventional septic systems in its core area. These existing waste treatment systems, while functional are extremely outdated and currently occupying much needed space required for community development. The Funding offered through this program, will enable Wasauksing to Design/Construct a Peatland Wastewater system to service all buildings in its core area. Without this funding, we would be hard pressed to fund this vital infrastructure need with own source revenue. Wasauksing is appreciative of this opportunity, and would like to acknowledge the positive impact these programs have on First Nations and its infrastructure needs. Miigwech"

Chief Warren Tabobondung, Wasauksing First Nation

“I'd like to acknowledge Shoal Lake 40 First Nation Councillor Bill Wahpay and Bimose Tribal Council for their work on the proposal and Canada and Ontario for their support.  With Freedom Road and our new Water Treatment Project, Shoal Lake 40 is clearly demonstrating that, when we have the resources, our First Nations are more than capable of meeting all our infrastructure challenges.  This project will be a positive step toward the infrastructure needed to protect our lands and waters. It will provide much needed upgrades & reduce environmental concerns and health risks to our community members.”

Vernon Redsky, Chief, Shoal Lake 40 First Nation

Quick facts

  • Through the Investing in Canada plan, the federal government 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. 

  • Across Ontario, the Government of Canada has invested more than $8.2 billion in over 2,800 infrastructure projects.

  • Ontario is investing more than $40 million and Canada is investing more than $100 million under the first intake of the Green Infrastructure Stream. This stream supports improved access to clean energy transportation, more energy efficient buildings, and better clean water, wastewater and storm water infrastructure.

  • Ontario is investing over $10.2 billion under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program to improve public transit; community, culture and recreation; green; and rural and northern community and other priority infrastructure.

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Chantalle Aubertin
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Christine Bujold
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure

Sofia Sousa-Dias
Communications Branch
Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure

Bobbisue Kells-Riberdy
Band Manager
Zhiibaahaasing First Nation 

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