(Ottawa, ON) – AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde says First Nations are frustrated, yet not surprised, by today’s announcement from Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller, confirming that Canada will not be able to lift all First Nations long-term drinking water advisories by its target deadline of March 2021.
“First Nations have good reason to be disappointed by the federal government’s announcement that after more than five years in office, it will miss its own target to provide safe drinking water to all Indigenous communities across Canada. While there has been significant progress in recent years, it clearly is not enough,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “I welcome today’s announcement by Minister Miller of $1.5 billion to continue to close the infrastructure gap faced by many First Nations, and I remain hopeful it will be followed up with concerted efforts in the coming months to fix the drinking water situation across Canada once and for all.”
At last week’s AFN Water Summit, ISC indicated there were still 59 long-term drinking water advisories in effect, with the majority (75%) located in Ontario. Many of these advisories were flagged as off-track or behind schedule by First Nations and regional organizations prior to the pandemic. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of clean water for health and hygiene, while fighting COVID-19.
“I’m very disappointed, but not surprised, to hear that the previous commitment to end all BWAs by March 2021 will not be met,” said Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald, who oversees the AFN’s Water portfolio. “While I welcome Minister Miller’s announcement for Operations and Maintenance funding, as this is only one of the reasons that Boil Water Advisories continue in First Nations, increased and sustained funding for modern and reliable infrastructure will remain a key solution. I have asked the minister to work with First Nations to identify the barriers that have resulted in Ontario having the highest number of BWAs remaining in Canada. We want to ensure that this basic human right is met for Ontario First Nations.”
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter at @AFN_Updates.
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Assembly of First Nations