The government is falling short on delivering safe drinking water to First Nations
All nine community water systems on Lytton First Nation land in British Columbia have been under boil water advisories at one time or another.
With Lytton First Nation’s water treatment operators at the centre of an “innovation circle,” they and experts from government, universities, consulting firms, water companies and contractors identified and piloted several options for providing affordable, sustainable water treatment solutions.
It’s one of several innovative, much-needed approaches to meeting the federal government’s promise to end all long-term drinking water advisories in First Nations communities by 2021.
As commendable as the government’s commitment is, new research shows it’s falling short on progress.
A David Suzuki Foundation report, Reconciling Promises and Reality: Clean Drinking Water for First Nations, finds the government failing on eight of 14 indicators developed to assess its progress.
As of Jan. 23, there were 91 long-term drinking water advisories affecting First Nations communities on public systems.
Over the past two years, the government has lifted 32 advisories, but 22 new ones were added over the same time, illustrating the complexity of the problem.
Year 1 Progress Toward Resolving Drinking Water Advisories in Nine First Nations in Ontario, that still apply.
Legislation needs to come down the pipe It also recommends that government invest in and share successful models of First Nations-led approaches to resolving drinking water advisories, including developing and implementing source water protection plans.
Legislation and regulations should also be developed, with First Nations as equal partners, to hold the federal government accountable to First Nations for safe drinking water.