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Providing clean, safe drinking water to First Nations communities is a top priority for the Government of Canada. Providing water services to First Nations communities is a shared responsibility among First Nation Band Councils, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Health Canada, Environment Canada, Tribal Councils, Provinces, and Territories.
First Nations, through their Chief and Council, are responsible for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of their water systems. They must also maintain effective sampling and testing programs to continuously monitor drinking water quality so their residents have clean, safe, and reliable drinking water. First Nations will ensure that their water and wastewater systems are operated by trained operators, and that all operators are certified, or work directly under a certified operator, by the end of 2006. In addition to having a regular operator, First Nations also ensures that a back-up operator is trained and available to replace the regular operator when necessary.
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC)
INAC provides funding to First Nations for the above activities. INAC also facilitates agreements for services shared between reserves and municipalities and funds training for First Nation operators. Technical advice related to water systems is provided to INAC by Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC). In concert with our partners, INAC has developed the new Protocol for Safe Drinking Water in First Nations Communities and will monitor compliance.
Health Canada works in partnership with First Nations communities to ensure drinking water quality monitoring programs are in place, as per the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. These programs include testing, sampling drinking water quality, and reviewing and communicating results.
Health Canada also supports and trains community-based drinking water quality monitors for sampling and testing. The department interprets these results and looks into potential problems, gives advice and makes recommendations to First Nations communities and federal partners, such as INAC. Health Canada also develops community-based education and awareness programs on drinking water issues. In First Nations communities where Environmental Health Programs are transferred, the First Nation is responsible for monitoring drinking water quality.
March 21, 2006