Archive for May, 2010

National Chief Atleo: First Nations drinking water & Bill S-11

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

May 27, 2010

8th FLOOR / 8e ÉTAGE
(613) 241-6789 telephone / téléphone (613) 241-5808 fax / télécopieur

AFN National Chief Calls for Real Action on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations: Need
Action to Address the “Capacity Gap as well as the Regulatory Gap”

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo stated today
that legislation introduced in Parliament on First Nations drinking water – Bill S-11- will not in its
current form meet the stated objective of ensuring First Nations have access to safe drinking
“This legislation will create new regulations for First Nations drinking water but does not specify
how First Nations will be equipped with the facilities, skills and resources to meet those
regulations,” said National Chief Atleo. “First Nations need infrastructure, training and support to
meet the requirements of the new regulations. Regulations without the capacity and financial
resources to support them will only set up First Nations to fail and to be punished for this. In my
view, we must address the ‘capacity gap’ as well as the ‘regulatory gap’. After all, the safety and
health of First Nations people is the stated goal.”
As of March 2010, 114 First Nations communities across the country were under Drinking Water
Advisories and 49 First Nations water systems were classified as “high risk”. Bill S-11,
introduced in Parliament May 25, does not include a plan to reduce these unacceptably high
numbers or the duration of First Nations drinking water advisories; does not help to license
operators; does not provide resources to improve operations and maintenance; does not lower the
number of water and wastewater treatment systems currently at risk; and could negatively impact
First Nations water rights.
“Furthermore, this legislation has failed to take advantage of recommendations made by the
government’s own Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water,” National Chief Atleo stated. “We must
build on these recommendations and move forward based on the rights of First Nations peoples
and governments and design solutions in full collaboration. Our communities have a clear
understanding of the real needs and challenges in delivering safe drinking water and our voices
must be heard.”
The National Chief noted a national audit that assesses the capacity and needs for clean drinking
water in First Nations communities is underway and is near completion. This is important in order
to have a full understanding of the current situation as a baseline of information. A 2006 report by
the federal government’s own Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water also provides a solid starting
point to address First Nations water issues.
“Every family in this country should have access to clean, safe drinking water and First Nation
should not be an exception,” said the National Chief.
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in
Contact information:
Alain Garon, Bilingual Communication Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 382 or cell: 613-292-0857 or e-mail

Bill S-11… legislation introduced in parliament on First Nations drinking water

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

$330 million allocated to improve First Nation water
By Staff
Wednesday, May 26, 2010



Government of Canada introduces legislation to improve drinking water quality in First Nation communities

OTTAWA – (May 26) – The Government of Canada is taking action to help ensure First Nations have safe, clean drinking water.

Today, Bill S-11, the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act was introduced in Parliament.

At the same time, the Government of Canada announced the two year extension of the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan.

The Honourable Chuck Strahl, minister of Indian affairs and northern development and federal interlocutor for Métis and non-status Indians, together with the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, minister of health, announced the introduction of a bill that will help safeguard drinking water in First Nation communities and a funding strategy to safeguard investments in drinking water.

This legislation would make it possible for the Government of Canada, in collaboration with First Nations, to move forward on development of federal regulations that will provide a comparable level of protection for drinking water in First Nation communities as enjoyed by other Canadians.

“First Nations should expect, as do all Canadians, to have access to safe, clean drinking water,” said Minister Strahl. “The introduction of legislation and the extension of the First Nations water and wastewater action plan will enable the Government of Canada to continue making tangible progress on its commitment to improving water conditions on-reserve.”

The Government of Canada has maintained an open dialogue with First Nations in addressing water issues.

Throughout the last year, options for drinking water and wastewater were discussed with First Nations, regional First Nation Chiefs, First Nation organizations, provincial and territorial government officials, and other stakeholders.

“I am pleased that legislation is moving forward and that continued investments will be made under the First Nations water and wastewater action plan,” said Minister Aglukkaq. “This is a step in the right direction as it will provide us with another mechanism to help protect the health and safety of all First Nations living on-reserve.”

The extension of the First Nations water and wastewater action plan provides an additional $330 million over the next two years to continue to support First Nations in the provision of safe drinking water.

In addition to providing enhanced support for investments in water and wastewater facilities, the First Nations water and wastewater action plan is funding the national assessment of First Nations water and wastewater systems.

This assessment, which will conclude later this year, will provide a more accurate account of water and wastewater needs in First Nation communities.

Significant progress has been made in improving water and wastewater conditions across the country.

For example, in 2006, there were 193 high-risk drinking water systems.

Today, that number has been significantly reduced to 49 systems.

In addition, out of the 21 communities identified as priorities, which meant that the community had both a high-risk drinking water system and a drinking water advisory, 18 have been removed from the list.

All First Nations community sites now have access to a trained community-based water monitor or an environmental health officer to sample and test drinking water quality at tap.

In 2009, 92 percent of communities had access to portable test kits for on-site bacteriological analysis of drinking water, up from 56 percent in 2002.

Between 2006-2012 the Government of Canada will have invested over $2.3 billion in First Nations water and wastewater infrastructure.

This funding includes:

- Annual departmental investments of approximately $200 million;

- $270 million through the First Nations water management strategy;

- $60 million through the plan of action for drinking water;

- Approximately $660 million through the First Nations water and wastewater action plan; and

- $183 million through Canada’s economic action plan.