ARCHIVED - Horizontal Initiatives: First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan (FNWWAP)


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Name of Lead Department(s):

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC)

Lead Department Program:

Community Infrastructure

Start date of the Horizontal Initiative:

April 1, 2008

End date of the Horizontal Initiative:

March 31, 2016

Total federal funding allocation (start to end date):


In Budget 2008, the Government of Canada provided $330,639,806 over two years to support on-reserve water/wastewater infrastructure and complementary activities through the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan (FNWWAP). Budgets 2010, 2012 and 2014 each extended the program for an additional two years, with total new funding of $985,015,644 over the six years. Canada's Economic Action Plan – Budget 2009 announced another $165 million over two years for the completion of drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects. Existing departmental reference levels of funding allocated for First Nations water and wastewater activities from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and Health Canada provide another $1,615,830,668.

Description of the Horizontal Initiative (including funding agreement)

The prime objective of the FNWWAP is to support First Nation communities on reserves in bringing their drinking water and wastewater services to a level and quality of service comparable to those enjoyed by Canadians living in communities of similar size and location. There are five key activity areas in the FNWWAP: infrastructure investments; operations and maintenance; training; monitoring and awareness; and standards.

To meet the objectives of the FNWWAP, several program enhancements have been introduced, including a national engineering assessment of existing water and wastewater facilities; consultations on a new federal legislative framework for safe drinking water; increased training through the Circuit Rider Training Program; modification of existing policies related to small water and septic systems and agreements for water and wastewater services; investment in a National Wastewater Program; and development of waterborne illness procedures.

The FNWWAP was implemented as part of government commitments in the 2007 Speech from the Throne, Budget 2008, Budget 2010, and Budget 2012 to support First Nations' access to safe drinking water. It supports the continued commitment to promote access to clean water in Aboriginal communities announced in the 2011 Speech from the Throne.

The FNWWAP supports AANDC's Strategic Outcome, The Land and Economy: Full participation of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis individuals and communities in the economy. The FNWWAP also supports the HC strategic outcome of the department's First Nations and Inuit Health Programming and Services: Better health outcomes and reduction of health inequalities between First Nations and Inuit and other Canadians.

More information is available at these websites:

Shared Outcome(s)

The FNWWAP works toward the achievement of four outcomes:

Governance Structure(s)

The FNWWAP is a successor to the joint First Nations Water Management Strategy (2003–2008) and the AANDC Plan of Action for Drinking Water (2006–2008). A memorandum of understanding has been in place between AANDC and HC since 2005 regarding data sharing related to drinking water. AANDC shares information on the proposed water and wastewater infrastructure investments; the annual inspections of water and wastewater treatment plants; and action related to drinking water advisories. Conversely, HC shares information such as drinking water sample results that do not meet the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality and reasons for recommending drinking water advisories. At the working level, the Strategic Water Management on Reserve Committee, which includes representatives from HC, AANDC, Environment Canada and the Assembly of First Nations, provides a forum for discussion to share information and co-ordinate joint action, although this is not a formal decision making body. It also provides integrated and co-ordinated leadership to ensure safe drinking water for First Nation communities and to implement the FNWWAP.

Directors general and assistant deputy ministers from HC and AANDC meet when needed to exchange and coordinate action on all relevant issues related to the FNWWAP.

Performance Highlights

The Government of Canada and First Nations strongly believe that First Nation communities should have access to the same quality of safe, clean and reliable drinking water as Canadians outside of First Nations lands. Between 2006 and 2014, the Government of Canada will have invested approximately $3 billion to support First Nation communities in managing their water and wastewater infrastructure and in related public-health activities.

Under FNWWAP, efforts to support First Nations improve water and wastewater services in their communities are based on a long-term plan founded on four pillars:

Capital investments have been prioritized for the highest risk systems and to address factors that are the greatest contributors to risk such as capacity, training, operations and maintenance.

Under the long-term strategy, positive results continue to emerge as measured in the Annual Performance Inspections conducted by the Departmental regional offices:

The Government of Canada is committed to working with First Nations region by region on the development of regulations which will be phased-in over time. This phased approach will help to ensure that First Nations and system operators are prepared to meet the regulatory requirements.

Federal Partners PAA Programs Contributing activities/programs Total Allocation (from start date to end date)
($ millions)
Planned Spending by Contributing activities/programs 2013-2014
($ millions)
2013–2014 ($ millions)
¹ Performance indicators are defined in the Performance Measurement Strategies and/or Performance Measurement Frameworks (PMF) of each federal partner.

* AANDC total allocation includes internal services, whereas the planned and actual spending is for sub-program 3.3.1 Water and Wastewater Infrastructure only, and excludes internal services and accommodation costs.

** Results exclude transferred communities.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Community Infrastructure and Internal Services Capital Facilities and Maintenance Program – FNWWAP funding 1,104 136.6 Planned Spending: 328.59

Actual Spending: 295.1

Expected Results: Increase in percent of First Nation drinking water systems with low-risk ratings.

TARGET: 50% low risk by 2015


Increase in percent of First Nation wastewater systems with low-risk ratings.

TARGET: 70% low risk by 2015

Contributing activity/program results (using specific indicators)¹: Low risk ratings increased from 38% to 44% for water systems and from 43% to 52% for wastewater systems between 2012–2013 and 2013–2014.

CEAP funding 165 Not applicable
Capital Facilities and Maintenance Program – A base funding 1,576.5 192
Health Canada First Nations and Inuit Health Drinking Water Safety Program – FNWWAP funding 211.7 27.4

Planned Spending: 32.52

Actual Spending: 22.52

Expected Results: Increase in the number of First Nations communities south of 60° with increased or maintained capacity to monitor their drinking water quality per Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality (GCDWQ) and reduce health risks associated with drinking water quality and supply.

Contributing activity/program results (using specific indicators): All First Nation communities had access to trained personnel (Community-Based Drinking Water Quality Monitor or Environmental Health Officer) to sample and test drinking water quality at tap.

Forty one percent of public water systems (formerly called piped drinking water distribution systems) in First Nations communities were monitored as per the frequency recommended in the GCDWQ**. Although compliance shows a decrease this year, it is important to note that on average, public water systems were sampled at 78% of the recommended frequency in the GCDWQ.

All regions have a water database in place to monitor sample results.

There were no instances where gastrointestinal illness was identified as a possible waterborne disease outbreak.

Twenty five water, wastewater, and solid waste project proposals were reviewed at headquarters as well as provided responses to 88 professional and technical requests for advice to First Nation communities within the context of public health protection.

Recruitment and retention strategies are on-going.

Drinking Water Safety Program – A based funding 39.35 5.12
Total 3,096.5 Total Planned Spending: 361.1

Total Actual Spending: 317.6

Comments on Variances:

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

The Department's planned 2013–2014 spending for sub-program – Water and Wastewater was $136,607,380 from Budget 2012 and $191,978,652 from A-base, for a total of $328,586,032 (excludes internal services and accommodation costs). Actual spending for water and wastewater initiatives was $295,097,655 in 2013–2014. The $33,488,377 difference between planned spending and actual spending primarily reflects reallocations of A-base to address pressures in other programs, notably Social Development and Federal Administration of Reserve Land.

Health Canada

The government's continued investment commitment for the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan and the prioritized investments have resulted in the continuation of improved water and wastewater system risk levels. Variance between the planned and actual spending is explained as follows: The surplus is mainly due to funding that was reallocated to environmental public health urgent priorities and public health related emergencies and responses such as H1N1 and spring flooding in Alberta. There was also realignment of resources associated with the implementation of the BC Tripartite initiative.

Results Achieved by Non-Federal Partners (if applicable):

Not Applicable

Contact Information:

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

Daniel Leclair
Director General
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
Community Infrastructure Branch
Telephone: 819-953-4636

Health Canada

Ivy Chan
Health Canada
Interprofessional Advisory and Program Support Directorate,
Environmental Public Health Division

Telephone: 613-948-7773

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