Minister Carolyn Bennett of Indigenous and Northern Affairs issued a statement this week reaffirming her ministry’s commitment to end boil water advisories on reserves in five years.
The statement said, “Severe underfunding over the past decades has created this unacceptable situation. Our government acknowledges that money alone will not solve these issues. 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.”
Bennet issued the statement to assure Canadians that the federal government intends to deliver on its commitment to end long-term drinking water advisories on reserves in the next five years. The release comes just three weeks after the Globe and Mail released an article that suggested the government was not on track to meeting the goal.
Bennett noted areas in which progress has been made, including the Pic Mobert First Nation, where a new water treatment plant has put an end to two long term boil water advisories as of June, and the approval of the funding for the Slate Falls First Nations water treatment plant.
The statement noted that Budget 2016 committed an additional $1.8 billion over five years to achieve the goal, beginning this fiscal year; plus, another $141 million over five years to improve water monitoring and testing and to help measure our progress.
“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,” said Bennett.
INAC has committed to partnering with First Nations communities on new approaches to ensure future projects meet the needs of the community and at the same time increase their capacity to manage their own systems, or to install remote monitoring systems where appropriate.
“We’re going to get this done,” said Bennett.