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

May 27, 2010

ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS
BULLETIN
ASSEMBLÉE DES PREMIÈRES NATIONS
473, RUE ALBERT STREET
8th FLOOR / 8e ÉTAGE
OTTAWA ON K1R 5B4
(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
water.
“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
Canada.
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Contact information:
Alain Garon, Bilingual Communication Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 382 or cell: 613-292-0857 or e-mail agaron@afn.ca

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