The Senate has passed Bill S-8, the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act after its third reading last night and will now move to the House of Commons for consideration.

According to a press release from Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development John Duncan, the proposed legislation is a “crucial element” of a larger action plan that the government began implementing six years ago, the objective of which is to ensure First Nations have the same health and safety protections for drinking water in their communities as other Canadians.

“The proposed legislation, if passed, would provide a mechanism to allow the government to develop, in partnership with First Nations, enforceable regulations to ensure access to clean and reliable drinking water; the effective treatment of wastewater; and the protection of sources of water on First Nation lands,” said Duncan.

Duncan said that Bill S-8 is the result of “pragmatic, tangible and respectful collaboration with First Nations,” but the bill’s implications have caused some unrest since its reintroduction in Parliament.

“We will not accept any circumstances where First Nations are set up to fail,” said National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo at the Assembly of First Nations water conference in Edmonton last March. “We need to engage directly with the federal government, shaping regulations that protect our rights.”

The three-day conference gathered concerned chiefs and members of councils to discuss a united approach to water governance.

For a video on Bill S-8 with Chiefs of Ontario’s Angus Toulouse, click here.

Photo: AANDC

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