Backgrounder - First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan

The First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan (FNWWAP), introduced in 2008, as a two-year a joint Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada—Health Canada initiative, supports First Nation communities with funding for water and wastewater treatment facility construction and renovations, operation and maintenance of facilities, training of operators, and related public health activities on reserves. On February 11, 2014, the Government of Canada announced in Economic Action Plan 2014 that the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan has been extended, and that the Government will provide an additional $323.4 million over the next two years. These investments will continue to support the comprehensive long-term plan to improve drinking water and wastewater systems on First Nation lands, founded on four pillars: enhanced capacity building and operator training; enforceable standards and protocols; infrastructure investments; and protection of public health.

Through the Action Plan, the Government of Canada is assisting First Nations to address water and wastewater issues to support strong and healthy communities. Other initiatives from the Government to improve water quality in First Nation communities include the passing of the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act, which received Royal Assent and officially came into force on November 1st, 2013. The aim of this Act is to improve health and safety protection for residents on First Nation lands through the development of enforceable regulations. As well, passage of the Act is helping to enhance capacity building and operator training, and the protection of public health.

As part of the comprehensive long-term plan the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan will continue to:

  • support high-priority construction projects to address water and wastewater needs and to maintain existing systems;
  • fund the hands-on training of treatment plant operators, to increase the number of certified water treatment system operators;
  • further the government's priority of improving drinking water and effective waste-water treatment on-reserve through supporting legislation and regulatory development;
  • provide resources for drinking water quality monitoring;
  • support water and wastewater-related public health activities in First Nation communities on reserve; and
  • between 2008 and 2014, $992.4 million has been committed to the Action Plan and 139 major projects were completed between 2008 and 2012.

Good progress is being made. The results of the 2011-12 annual performance inspections of First Nations water and wastewater systems show that the number of water systems rated as high risk have decreased by 8.1 per cent and the number of wastewater systems rated as high risk have decreased by 2.1 per cent, since the 2009-2011 National Assessment of First Nations Water and Wastewater Systems was conducted.

Since the 2009-2011 National Assessment, the percentage of First Nation drinking water systems that have certified operators has increased from 51 per cent to 60 per cent, or 463 out of 771 systems; and the percentage of wastewater systems that have certified operators has increased from 42 per cent to 54 per cent, or 280 out of 519 systems.

More information on the results of investments since 2006 are available in AANDC's Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Investment Reports.