Drinking Water Advisories: Background Content

Auditor-General Report 3 Recommendations

February 26, 2021

AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Auditor-General Report critical of long-standing drinking water issues

“Auditor General of Canada – A report from Auditor General Karen Hogan tabled today in the House of Commons concludes that the support provided by Indigenous Services Canada has not been adequate to address long-standing problems with safe drinking water for many of Canada’s First Nations communities. Drinking water advisories remain a part of daily life in many of these communities, with almost half of existing long-term advisories in place for more than a decade.

Between 2015 and 2020, 100 long-term drinking water advisories in place on public water systems in First Nations communities were lifted, while 60 remained in effect—28 of these were more than 10 years old. In December 2020, Indigenous Services Canada acknowledged that it would not meet its target of removing all long-term drinking water advisories on public water systems in First Nations communities by 31 March 2021.
The audit found that Indigenous Services Canada’s efforts have been constrained by an outdated policy and formula for funding the operation and maintenance of public water systems. In addition, the department has been working with First Nations to revise the legislative framework to provide First Nations communities with drinking water protections comparable to other communities in Canada.

“Indigenous Services Canada must work in partnership with First Nations to develop and implement a lasting solution for safe drinking water in First Nations communities, to eliminate all long-term drinking water advisories and prevent new ones from occurring”, said Ms. Hogan”.

December 1, 2021

AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Auditor-General Report Update

Peterborough Examiner – Parliamentary Budget Office Yves Giroux’s report on Wednesday said the government has set aside more than enough money to meet the expected capital costs to build water and wastewater systems over the next five years. Where the government falls short is on financial help to First Nations to operate the systems, which Giroux’s office estimates would need $138 million more annually in federal funding.

The PBO report also noted that the share of water systems deemed to be “high” or “medium” risk — meaning they are unlikely to manage through any problems — has remained virtually the same since 2015 despite annual federal spending more than doubling during that time.

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