ARCHIVED - Informal Consultations Supporting Bill S-8, Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act

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The Government of Canada believes it has maintained an open dialogue with First Nations in addressing water issues. Throughout the last six years, the legislative framework for drinking water and wastewater has been discussed with First Nations, regional First Nation Chiefs, First Nation organizations, provincial and territorial government officials, and other stakeholders, through Bill S-11 and now Bill S-8.

The Government of Canada will continue this engagement process, working closely with First Nations through each phase within the development of a federal regulatory regime.

Summer 2006: In 2006, the Minister established an Expert Panel to advise on options for an appropriate regulatory framework, including new legislation. In December 2006, the Report of the Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations was tabled in Parliament.The Expert Panel held a series of public hearings with First Nations across Canada, hearing from over 110 presenters and receiving more than two dozen written submissions.

April 2007: A joint workshop was held between federal officials and the Assembly of First Nations Technical Water Expert Group to engage technical experts on the Government's proposed option (incorporation by reference) and allow the experts to identify issues and challenges that would need to be resolved in order to effectively implement this option.

May - July 2008: AANDC, Health Canada and Environment Canada met with regional First Nation organizations, the Assembly of First Nations, and provincial/territorial officials to prepare for future engagement sessions on a legislative framework. First Nations expressed support for continued discussions on the development of legislation and regulations.

February - March 2009: A series of engagement sessions were held with First Nation communities, regional First Nation organizations and provincial/territorial officials. In total, the engagement sessions involved over 700 participants, 544 of which were First Nation individuals. These sessions offered a forum for participants to suggest solutions and recommendations on how to best address the existing regulatory gap for drinking water and wastewater in First Nation communities.

Fall/winter 2009-2010: The federal government met with First Nation Chiefs and First Nation organizations to discuss specific regional issues raised during the engagement sessions held in February - March 2009.

June 2011: Departmental officials reconvened discussions with First Nations in order to address their concerns related to former Bill S-11.

August 2011: Funding was provided to the Atlantic, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Alberta and BC regions to help support continued First Nation participation in discussions in 2011 and 2012 on safe drinking water legislation.

September 2011: Departmental officials met with the Atlantic Policy Congress (APC), the Assembly of Treaty Chiefs Alberta (AOTC), and the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) to discuss their concerns related to the safe drinking water legislation.

October 2011: The Minister, ministerial representatives and departmental officials continued discussions with the AOTC in regards to their concerns related to safe drinking water legislation. It was keeping these issues in mind, that the bill was amended and reintroduced in the Senate as Bill S-8.

December 2011 until now: Departmental officials continue discussion with the APC, the AOTC, AFNQL, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne and the Nisga'a in regard to their concerns related to safe drinking water legislation.

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