Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (July 14, 2011) – The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, released today the results of the National Assessment of Water and Wastewater Systems in First Nation Communities, the most rigorous, comprehensive and independent evaluation of water and wastewater systems on reserve ever undertaken by a federal government.
The National Assessment surveyed the water and wastewater systems of 97 per cent of First Nation communities in Canada. Site visits in the 571 participating First Nations began in September 2009 and concluded in November 2010. This first ever national and independent assessment provides Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) and First Nations with a comprehensive and detailed account of water and wastewater systems on reserves.
“Our government is strongly committed to the health and safety of all Canadians. We are the first government to ever commission a national and independent assessment of this scope,” said Minister Duncan. “We have made important and strategic infrastructure investments to support First Nations in operating their water and wastewater systems.”
“This report shows that more needs to be done, especially in areas like capacity and monitoring, and that is why our government will continue to work with First Nations and will bring in legislation to support the creation of enforceable standards. This government is committed to working with First Nations, as we have done for the last five years, to address this serious challenge,” said Minister Duncan.
The Government of Canada will continue to work with First Nations by investing in infrastructure, monitoring and capacity. Work is underway to address 15 water systems this year. On infrastructure alone, the government plans to invest in an additional 57 water systems by 2015-2016.
In addition, the government will continue to invest in capacity building, which was highlighted in the report as a major challenge to maintaining effective water and wastewater systems. The government invests $10 million a year in the Circuit Rider training program to train and certify First Nation operators and managers. It is critical that operators and managers have the skills and knowledge to ensure safe, reliable and efficient operation.
Immediately following the release, AANDC will be working with First Nations, the provinces and territories, and other stakeholders to discuss the National Assessment results and to develop a strategy for future actions and investments.
Information on plans to address the findings and recommendations of the National Assessment and support to First Nations in providing residents access to safe, clean, and reliable drinking water can be found on the department’s website.
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