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1) What did the Government announce today?
The Government announced a plan to ensure safe drinking water in First
This plan includes:
2)What is the Government doing to improve drinking water quality on-reserve?
Clean, safe water is a basic requirement for life which must be accessible by all peoples of Canada. The Government of Canada recognizes this and is fully committed to working with First Nations to assist them in improving the quality of drinking water in their communities.
Today we are setting national standards that must be met as part of our funding agreements with First Nations. We have identified the communities for which the water system is at the highest risk of failing to producing quality water, and will be establishing remedial plans to address the problems for each of them.
We are working with First Nations and other stakeholders to improve infrastructure and operator training, while providing assistance to First Nations in emergency situations.
3) What immediate actions are you taking and how much will it cost?
Using existing resources, we are addressing these high priority communities by developing a more rigorous approach to training, operations, maintenance and monitoring of the systems. First Nations are accountable to provide safe drinking water to their community members and the Government will assist them in providing the necessary tools and resources.
4)The Department has announced the Protocol for Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Communities. What does this protocol include and how will you enforce and uphold these standards?
The protocol includes best practices standards for the design, construction, operations, maintenance and monitoring of drinking water systems. In addition, the protocol specifies performance targets that First Nations must meet with their water systems. First Nations water systems must also comply with Health Canada’s Guidelines for drinking water quality, including minimum requirements for turbidity, chlorine residuals, and microbiological parameters.
To ensure that standards are followed, until federally legislated regulatory
regime is in place, this protocol will be included as part of funding
agreements between the Government of Canada and First Nations. This clear
protocol will provide a proper basis for the Government’s accountability
and that of First Nations.
5)How many water treatment systems exist on First Nations reserves in Canada?
Current INAC data indicates there are approximately 755 community water systems on reserves across Canada. These normally include water treatment plants servicing five or more houses. In addition to community water systems, other means for the supply of drinking water such as individual wells, or service are provided by adjacent municipalities.
6) How many drinking water advisories are currently in effect in First Nation communities?
The latest number is to be confirmed by Health Canada. As of March 10, 2006, 79 First Nations communities, were on drinking water advisories as a preventative measure.
7) Is drinking water on First Nation reserves the same quality as in the rest of Canada?
In general, First Nation communities face the same challenges in ensuring the safety of their drinking water as those of many other small, rural/remote communities in Canada. And, like in non-Aboriginal communities, problems do occur occasionally in First Nation communities. The condition of water facilities change continually due to such factors as the aging of the facility, the turnover of qualified operators, change in source water conditions, and population increases. If a problem does occur, the necessary corrective actions are taken immediately including the issuance of boil water advisories, additional testing and, in some instances, the provision of short-term, alternative supplies such as bottled water.
8)Who is responsible for safe drinking water in First Nations Communities?
First nations are responsible for the construction, design, operation and maintenance of their water systems. INAC provides funding to First Nations for these activities, subject to the appropriate technical review and funding approval process. Health Canada is responsible for third party quality monitoring.
March 21, 2005