Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu issued the following statement regarding the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s report on clean water for First Nations:
“We welcome the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO)’s report and share the PBO’s commitment to providing adequate funding for safe drinking water in First Nations communities.
“Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) remains focused on working with First Nations to support them in resolving outstanding issues they face in accessing safe drinking water. Reconciliation requires taking action to support Indigenous Peoples on their path forward and addressing long-standing funding gaps.
“In partnership with First Nations leadership and communities across the country, the Government of Canada has made significant investments in water-related infrastructure on reserves. Since Budget 2016, Canada has committed $5.2 billion to support First Nations to bring safe drinking water to their communities.
“The results of the PBO report are encouraging, showing that our investments to date have closed the capital funding gap identified in the 2017 report.
“The report also identifies operations and maintenance as essential to sustainable access to a safe water supply in First Nations communities. We strongly agree with the PBO, and that is why we have increased support for operations and maintenance so that 100 per cent of water and wastewater operations and maintenance costs will be covered—up from 80 per cent—based on an updated funding formula that more accurately reflects current costs.
“By 2025-26, we will have increased the annual funding provided to support the operations and maintenance of water and wastewater systems by almost four times since 2019-20.
“While we are making progress, there is still more work to do. With support from ISC, First Nations have lifted 119 long-term drinking water advisories. However, 43 advisories remain in 31 communities. We are working with our partners to lift those advisories that are still in effect as quickly as possible. We have decreased the number of high- and medium-risk systems, but we need to continue our efforts to lower these risk ratings because we know there is no acceptable number of drinking water advisories beyond zero.
“The government will continue to support First Nations in implementing sustainable solutions that best suit their communities’ needs and supporting healthy, safe, and prosperous communities.”