First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan
Name of lead department: Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC)
Federal partner organization: Health Canada
Non-federal and non-governmental partners: Not applicable
Start date: April 1, 2008
Funding renewal periods:
- April 1, 2010 – March 31, 2012
- April 1, 2012 – March 31, 2014
- April 1, 2014 – March 31, 2016
End date: March 31, 2016
Total federal funding allocated (start to end date): $3,096,477,118
In Budget 2008, the Government of Canada provided $330.6 million over two years to support on-reserve water/wastewater infrastructure and complementary activities through the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan. Canada's Economic Action Plan – Budget 2009 announced another $165 million over two years for the completion of drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects. Budgets 2010, 2012 and 2014 each extended the Program for an additional two years, with total new funding of $985 million over the six years. 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 $1.6 billion.
Funding contributed by non-federal and non-governmental partners: Not applicable
Description: The prime objective of the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan is to help First Nation communities on reserves bring 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 First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan: infrastructure investments; operations and maintenance; training; monitoring and awareness; and standards.
To meet the objectives of the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan, several program enhancements have been introduced, including the following:
- 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 First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan was implemented as part of government commitments in the 2007 Speech from the Throne, Budget 2008, Budget 2010, Budget 2012 and Budget 2014 to support First Nation 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 First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan supports AANDC's strategic outcome The Land and Economy: Full participation of First Nations, Métis, Non-Status Indians and Inuit individuals and communities in the economy. The First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan also supports the Health Canada 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:
- Budget 2008: Responsible Leadership, Chapter 4: Leadership at Home and Abroad
- Budget 2010: Leading the Way on Jobs and Growth, Chapter 3.3: Building on a Strong Economic Foundation
- Budget 2012: Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity
- Budget 2014: The Road to Balance: Creating Jobs and Opportunities, Chapter 3.4: Supporting Families and Communities
- Report on Plans and Priorities 2007–2008 Health Canada, Health Canada's Regional Operations – An Overview
- Water and Wastewater Infrastructure – Investment Report April 2006–March 2010
- Water and Wastewater Infrastructure – Investment Report April 2010–March 2012
- Water and Wastewater Infrastructure – Investment Report April 2012–March 2013
Shared outcome: The First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan works toward the achievement of four outcomes:
- First Nation communities have an increased capacity to address potential water quality problems.
- Health risks associated with water quality and supply are reduced.
- All First Nation community water and wastewater facilities meet federal standards.
- First Nation communities have increased confidence in their drinking water.
Governance structure: The First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan 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 Health Canada since 2005 regarding data sharing related to drinking water. AANDC shares information about proposed water and wastewater infrastructure investments, the annual inspections of water and wastewater treatment plants, and action related to drinking water advisories. Similarly, Health Canada shares information such as drinking water sample results that do not meet the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality (GCDWQ) and reasons for recommending drinking water advisories. At the working level, the Strategic Water Management on Reserve Committee, which includes representatives from Health Canada, AANDC, Environment Canada and the Assembly of First Nations, provides a forum to share information and coordinate joint action, although this is not a formal decision-making body. It also provides integrated and coordinated leadership and a vehicle to work toward safe drinking water for First Nation communities and implement the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan.
Directors General and Assistant Deputy Ministers from Health Canada and AANDC meet when needed to exchange and coordinate action on all relevant issues related to the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan.
Performance Highlights: Access to safe drinking water, the effective treatment of wastewater and the protection of sources of drinking water on First Nation lands are a priority for the Government of Canada. From 2006 to 2014, the Government of Canada has invested approximately $3 billion to support First Nation communities in managing their water and wastewater infrastructure and in related public health activities.
Under the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan, efforts to support First Nations' improvements to water and wastewater services in their communities are based on a comprehensive long-term strategic approach founded on four pillars:
- enhanced capacity building and operation training;
- enforceable standards and protocols;
- infrastructure investments; and
- protection of public health.
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 Department's regional offices:
- While only 49% of wastewater systems were evaluated as low risk, the percentage of low risk ratings for drinking water systems increased from 44% to 57% between 2013–2014 and 2014–2015, exceeding the target by seven percentage points;
- Although the percentage of First Nations' water systems that met the GCDWQ remained at 74%, the percentage of First Nations' wastewater systems producing treated water that met effluent quality regulations and guidelines progressed from 63% in 2013–2014 to 77% in 2014–2015, partially due to investments that support communities in complying with Environment Canada's Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations. In 2014–2015, the two targets for the number of operators certified to the level of the water or wastewater system were exceeded by six percentage points;
- AANDC and Health Canada launched the process of engagement with First Nations and other stakeholders to develop regulations under the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act. Summaries of provincial and territorial acts and regulations related to drinking water and wastewater were provided to First Nations to assist them in providing input to the regulatory development process; and
- 42% of public water systems met the recommended sampling frequency for bacteriological parameters in the GCDWQ in 2014–2015. However, it is important to note that on average public water systems were sampled at 79% of the recommended frequency in the GCDWQ.
|Federal organizations||Link to Program Alignment Architectures||Contributing programs and activities||Total allocationa (from start to end date)||Planned spending by contributing activities/programs 2014–2015||2014–2015|
|Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada||Community Infrastructure and Internal Services||Capital Facilities and Maintenance Program – First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan funding||$1,103,999,806||0||Planned Spending: $171,889,288
Actual Spending: $328,860,147
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: 65% low risk by 2015.
Actual results against targetsb: Between 2013–2014 and 2014–2015, low-risk ratings increased from 44% to 57% for water systems, exceeding the target by seven percentage points, and slightly decreased from 52% to 48% for wastewater systems.
|Canada Economic Action Plan funding||$165,000,000||n/a|
|Capital Facilities and Maintenance Program – A base funding||$1,576,476,568||$171,889,288|
|Health Canada||First Nations and Inuit Health||Drinking Water Safety Program – First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan funding||$211,655,644||$23,707,822||Planned Spending: $27,991,122
Actual Spending: $20,241,781
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 GCDWQ and reduce health risks associated with drinking water quality and supply.
Actual results against targets: All First Nations communities had access to trained personnel (Community-Based Drinking Water Quality Monitor or Environmental Health Officer) to sample and test drinking water quality at the tap.
42% of public water systems (formerly called piped drinking water distribution systems) in First Nations communities were monitored as per the frequency recommended in the GCDWQc. Additionally, on average, public water systems were sampled at 79% 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.
16 wastewater and solid waste project proposals were reviewed at headquarters and responses provided to 70 professional and technical requests from First Nations communities for advice within the context of public health protection. Recruitment and retention strategies for Environmental Health Officers are ongoing.
|Drinking Water Safety Program – A based funding||$39,345,100||$4,283,300|
|Total for all federal organizations||$3,096,477,118||Total planned spending: $199,880,410
Total actual spending: $349,101,928
|a 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.
b Performance indicators are defined in the Performance Measurement Strategies and/or Performance Measurement Frameworks of each federal partner.
c Results exclude communities in British Columbia transferred to the First Nations Health Authority in late 2013.
Comments on variances:
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
The difference between Planned Spending and Actual Spending primarily reflects additional funding provided through Supplementary Estimates for the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan.
The surplus of $7,749,341 was allocated to the Clinical and Client Care to ensure continuity of access of nursing services in remote and isolated First Nations communities.
Results achieved by non-federal and non-governmental partners: Not applicable
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
Program Design and Partnerships Directorate, Community Infrastructure Branch
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
Population Health and Primary Care Directorate
First Nations and Inuit Health Branch
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