The Government of Canada is committed to helping ensure First Nations have access to safe, clean, and reliable drinking water.
In 2006, the Government implemented a comprehensive strategy to ensure that water and wastewater systems in First Nation communities are effective and that First Nations have access to the same quality of water as other Canadians. This long-term strategy is being delivered through:
Between 2006 and 2014, the Government will have invested approximately $3 billion in water and wastewater infrastructure and related public health activities to support First Nation communities in managing their water and wastewater systems, including $330.8 million from the 2012 Economic Action Plan . In addition to AANDC funding, First Nations invest in water and wastewater systems and activities through own source revenues and various other government sources at the local, provincial and federal level. The investments are steadily increasing the effectiveness of water services in First Nation communities.
Assessments of First Nation water and wastewater infrastructure and capacity are also necessary to ensure that the proper infrastructure and systems are in place with performance that meets established standards.
In 2009, the Government of Canada initiated the National Assessment of First Nation Water and Wastewater Systems with the inspection of 4,000 drinking water and wastewater systems. This exercise was the most rigorous and comprehensive independent assessment of its kind, surveying 97 per cent of drinking water and wastewater systems on First Nation lands. The result of this National Assessment, released in July 2011, provides an unprecedented reference tool that will inform future water initiatives while supporting future planning for water and wastewater systems in First Nation communities.
For more information on AANDC's water and wastewater infrastructure investments, please visit this page.
AANDC has established water and wastewater protocols to help ensure that on-reserve residents enjoy comparable standards of health and safety as neighbouring off-reserve residents. Standards are necessary to maintain water quality and to protect the Government's substantial investments in First Nation water and wastewater services. While these protocols and standards are helpful; they are not supported by effective and enforceable regulations.
Bill S-8, the proposed Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act, was introduced in the Senate on February 29, 2012. This legislation would make it possible for the Government of Canada to work with First Nations to develop federal regulations to ensure access to safe drinking water, effective treatment of wastewater and the protection of sources of drinking water on First Nation lands. The development of federal regulations that will ensure that First Nations have the same health and safety protection for drinking water in their communities as other Canadians is a priority of the Government of Canada.
For more information on standards, protocols, please visit this page.
The proposed Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act, Bill S-8, was introduced in the Senate on February 29, 2012.
While the spirit of the new proposed legislation is the same as former Bill S-11, the Government has incorporated significant changes to the current bill based on feedback received from First Nations, Senators and Members of Parliament.
This enabling legislation is a vital step towards ensuring First Nations have the same health and safety protections for drinking water as other Canadians.
Subject to the proposed legislation receiving Royal Assessment, this bill will allow the Government to develop, in partnership with First Nations, enforceable federal regulations to ensure access to safe, clean and reliable drinking water; the effective treatment of wastewater; and the protection of sources of water on First Nation lands.
After due consideration, the Senate referred Bill S-8 to the House of Commons in June 2012 without amendment. On June 19, 2012, Bill S-8 received first reading in the House of Commons. On November 1, 2012, second reading debates began on Bill S-8.
AANDC is committed to supporting First Nations in their efforts to build capacity in communities to operate, monitor, and maintain their drinking water systems and wastewater systems. Through initiatives such as the Circuit Rider Training program, the number of First Nations operators who are certified or in-training toward certification is steadily increasing.
For more information on how AANDC helps support First Nations in acquiring training and building capacity, please visit this page.