March 2, 2023
Consultation draft shared: Next steps underway toward proposed new First Nations drinking water and wastewater legislation
Indigenous Services Canada – First Nations have long called for legislative reform on safe drinking water to meet their needs and reflect their voices. Since 2018, the Government of Canada has been engaging First Nations on legislative reforms to First Nations safe drinking water.
The Government of Canada is committed to introducing new legislation following the repeal of the 2013 Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act and the commitments made in the 2021 Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Class Action Settlement.
Today, Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services, announced that a consultation draft of a legislative proposal has been shared with First Nations rights holders, which also includes Modern Treaty and Self-Governing Nations, and First Nations organizations, to support the development of new proposed First Nations drinking water and wastewater legislation.
Since summer 2022, Canada has met with more than 80 First Nations and First Nations organizations to share information, listen and work with First Nations partners to explore how to address their needs and priorities in new proposed drinking water and wastewater legislation.
Sharing this consultation draft represents an important milestone in engaging directly with First Nations rights holders and ensuring that federal laws are consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Canada is also engaging with provinces and territories on the need to protect source water, which was a key priority identified by First Nations.
Engagement is an ongoing process, and Canada looks forward to continuing to work with all First Nations and First Nations organizations on the development, implementation and introduction of a legislative proposal for First Nations drinking water and wastewater. More information on engagement efforts and timelines are available in the backgrounder provided.
First Nations and First Nations organizations interested in sharing their thoughts on the consultation draft can contact the engagement team at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the engagement web page for more information. Engagement on the consultation draft is ongoing until March 19, 2023.
“We continue to work with First Nations on proposed new First Nations drinking water and wastewater legislation. A consultation draft has now been shared with rights holders, including Modern Treaty and Self-Governing Nations, and First Nations organizations, to ensure engagement continues, and to respect the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I encourage those interested in this process to learn more about it online at Indigenous Services Canada’s website.”
The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services
- The Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Class Action Settlement Agreement committed Canada to making all reasonable efforts to develop and introduce proposed legislation, in consultation with First Nations, to replace the 2013 Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act.
- The consultation draft of a legislative proposal includes anticipated application to First Nations on First Nations lands and to cover drinking water, wastewater, and related infrastructure.
- First Nations have continued to underscore the importance of recognizing their rights, providing sustainable funding for drinking and wastewater services, protecting source water, and maintaining ongoing engagement on water issues that affect First Nations. This is consistent with Canada-led engagement in 2017–2018, Assembly of First Nations-led engagement since 2018, and Canada-led engagement in spring 2022 on the repeal of the 2013 Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act.
- The First Nations Drinking Water Settlement claim deadline for individuals and the acceptance deadline for First Nations have been extended by one year. First Nations and individuals affected by long-term drinking water advisories that lasted for at least one year between November 20, 1995, and June 20, 2021, now have until March 7, 2024, to submit their claim for compensation.
- Everyone in Canada should have access to safe, clean drinking water. The Government of Canada is working with First Nations communities to achieve clean drinking water on reserves. As of February 28, 2023, and since November 2015, 138 long-term drinking water advisories have been lifted in First Nations.
- Backgrounder and Timeline for Consultation draft: Proposal for An Act respecting drinking water, wastewater and related infrastructure on First Nations lands
- Consultation draft: Proposal for An Act respecting drinking water, wastewater and related infrastructure on First Nation lands
- Developing laws and regulations for First Nations drinking water and wastewater: engagement 2022
- First Nations Drinking Water Settlement
- What we heard about the review of the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act
- Water in First Nations communities
- Achieving clean drinking water in First Nations communities
For more information, media may contact:
Director of Communications and Issues Management
Office of the Minister of Indigenous Services
Indigenous Services Canada
March 23, 2023
Feds kick in $43 million to supply clean drinking water for Oneida Nation of the Thames
Money will fund connection to Lake Huron water system for potable water, fire protection
CBC News: Oneida Nation of the Thames, an Indigenous community near London, Ont., that has been on a boil water advisory since 2019, has secured $43 million in federal funding to connect to a municipal water supply.
- State of emergency declared amid water shortage in Oneida Nation of the Thames
- Oneida water: ‘Would you want your parents to live like this?’
The connection to the Lake Huron Primary Water Supply System will supply potable water to more than 500 homes and public buildings to the community, which has a population of 2,000. In addition to delivering potable water, the money will allow Oneida to install fire protection and support new construction.
A boil water advisory has been in effect on Oneida’s water system since September 2019 and became long-term in September 2020. Problems with low water quality and limited water pressure forced the community to declare a state of emergency in December.
Chief Todd Cornelius said he’s elated at the news, which comes after months of lobbying Indigenous Services Canada. “Water is life.” said Cornelius. “It’s been a long road, and while we have been resilient, we know that clean water is vital to the overall health of our community. I look forward to the day when our community can drink water by simply turning on their tap. It’s time to get to work on making this a reality. I want to thank the people of Oneida and the administration who have endured this process and worked to finalize this agreement.”
The water infrastructure project is projected to be completed in about 18 to 24 months.
In January, CBC News reported that Oneida had struck a supply agreement with the Lake Huron water system to have an 18-kilometre pipe built to carry water to their community to a connection point at Springwell Road and Falconbridge Drive near Mt. Brydges, Ont.
The Lake Huron Primary Water Supply System supplies treated Lake Huron water to 15 municipalities across an area the size of Prince Edward Island. Parts of London, along with Middlesex Centre, Strathroy-Caradoc, Lucan-Biddulph, Grand Bend and others, are supplied by the system.
Boil water advisories are a way of life for First Nations communities across the country.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed during the 2015 election campaign to eliminate all long-term drinking water advisories on public water systems on First Nations reserves by 2021.
More to come
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew Lupton, Reporter
Andrew Lupton is a B.C.-born journalist, father of two and a north London resident with a passion for politics, photography and baseball.
May 23, 2023
Ottawa pledges $12M to upgrade water services for Sioux Valley Dakota Nation
Minister Marc Miller and chief announce new waste water treatment plant for southwestern Manitoba First Nation
CBC News: A southwestern Manitoba First Nation is using $12 million in federal funding to ensure on-reserve members have access to potable water for generations to come.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller was in Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, located 260 kilometres west of Winnipeg, Tuesday announcing $12 million in federal funding to help build water and wastewater system upgrades. “This is an announcement that’s been a long time coming,” Miller said. “To make sure that you had the financial support to affect the lives of a few 1,000 people in the community that will be better served by [a] newer water system with state-of-the-art capacity to make sure that your water is safe.”
As part of the upgrades, a water treatment plant is set to go to tender in three weeks and construction is expected to begin in August. The overall construction schedule is anticipated to take about 12 to 16 months.
Chief Jennifer Bone says the upgrades were essential to supply water for the future projected population and expansion areas in Sioux Valley Dakota Nation. Work on the project began in 2019 when water was flagged as a priority in the nation, and a water and wastewater assessment was completed soon after.
The current water treatment plant was built in 1991. It services 187 connections throughout the community using water mains and 110 buildings get water delivered by truck. Community members currently get water using pipe connections from the water treatment plant, truck haul services and individual private wells.
Bone said the community plans to eventually bring the majority of homes and businesses onto a piped water supply from the water treatment plant, which she says will be able to supply nearly 4,000 people.
Bone said the new water treatment plant will help address housing needs in Sioux Valley, and the social and economic issues that result from access to safe and adequate housing. “I know we’ve had problems over the years with our water treatment plant,” Bone said. “We had to make a big decision way back when if we wanted to continue with upgrades or if we just wanted to start with completely new construction.”
- New funding for First Nations water projects an ‘important step’ minister says
- Sachigo Lake First Nation ends boil water advisory after treatment plant upgrades
The funding comes from the Indigenous Community Infrastructure Fund announced in the 2021 budget. Funds are used to support infrastructure projects like wastewater facilities, health facilities, cultural facilities, schools and housing.
Federal support for clean drinking water
There are currently three First Nations with long-term boil water advisories in Manitoba.
Long-term water advisories become so after a year of short-term advisories don’t get solved. Miller says Services Canada is working with those communities — Mathias Colomb, Shamattawa First Nation and Tatskweyak Cree Nation — to ensure people can have quality water. “Every community has their particular need,” Miller said, adding that there are now “so few” long-term boil water advisories left to be lifted.
He said securing potable water for these communities remains a priority for the federal government. “Being relentless about making sure that those communities get the resources that they need and the support of the Government of Canada is important,” Miller said.
Miller also met with the First Nation’s chief and council and toured the former Brandon Residential School site during his visit. Preliminary searches have suggested there could be potential unmarked grave sites on and around the former school’s grounds.
Miller says the federal government will do what it can to support those searches. “There is a search for truth, and something that people in my position have long denied Indigenous people is the right to know where their loved ones are, to get just … even a small amount of closure.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chelsea Kemp, Brandon Reporter
Chelsea Kemp is a multimedia journalist with CBC Manitoba. She is based in CBC’s bureau in Brandon, covering stories focused on rural Manitoba. Share your story ideas, tips and feedback with email@example.com.