First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan

Name of lead department: Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC)

Federal partner organization: Health Canada

Non-federal and non-governmental partners: Not applicable

Start date: April 1, 2008

End date: March 31, 2016

Total federal funding allocated (start to end date): $3,096,509,744
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. 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-year period. Budget 2009: Canada's Economic Action Plan announced another $165,000,000 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 Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and Health Canada provide another $1,615,830,668. In Budget 2016, the Government of Canada committed $1.8 billion over five years for investments in water and wastewater to address health and safety needs, ensure proper facility operation and maintenance, and end long-term drinking water advisories on reserve.

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 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. The initiative has five key areas of activity: 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 a national engineering assessment of existing water and wastewater facilities; 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 made in the 2007 Speech from the Throne, Budget 2008, Budget 2009, Budget 2010, Budget 2012, and Budget 2014 to support First Nations' access to safe drinking water. The First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan supported INAC's Strategic Outcome, The Land and Economy: Full participation of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis individuals and communities in the economy. The initiative also supports the strategic outcome of Health Canada'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: The First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan worked towards the achievement of four outcomes:

Governance structure: The First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan is the successor to the joint First Nations Water Management Strategy (2003–2008) and the INAC Plan of Action for Drinking Water (2006–2008). A memorandum of understanding regarding data sharing related to drinking water has been in place between INAC and Health Canada since 2005. INAC shares information regarding 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 and reasons for recommending drinking water advisories. At the working level, the Strategic Water Management on Reserve Committee, which includes representatives from Health Canada, INAC, Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Assembly of First Nations, provides a forum for discussion to share information and coordinate joint action, although this is not a formal decision-making body. It also provides integrated and coordinated leadership to ensure safe drinking water for First Nation communities and to implement the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan.

Directors General and Assistant Deputy Ministers from Health Canada and INAC 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 priorities for the Government of Canada. From 2006 to 2015, the Government of Canada has invested approximately $3.1 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 Nation communities in the improvement of their water and wastewater services are based on a comprehensive strategic approach founded on four pillars:

The First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan Funding was allocated based upon priorities identified by First Nations in their community First Nation Infrastructure Investment Plan according to the Capital Facilities and Maintenance Program’s National Priority Ranking Framework and the Priority Ranking Framework for water and wastewater projects. Capital investments have been prioritized to address 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 by the Annual Performance Inspections conducted by certified professionals in each region:

Performance Information
Federal organizations Link to the organization’s program Contributing programs and activities Total allocationa (from start to end date) (dollars) 2015–2016 Planned spending (dollars) 2015–2016 Actual spending (dollars) 2015–2016 Expected results 2015–2016 Actual results against targets
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Community Infrastructure and Internal Services Capital Facilities and Maintenance Program – First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan funding $1,104,000,000 $136,600,000 $170,798,568 ER1.1
a) Increase in percent of First Nation drinking water systems with low-risk ratings
b) Increase in percent of First Nation wastewater systems with low-risk ratings
T1.1
AR1.1
See following table
Canada's Economic Action Plan funding $165,000,000 Not applicable  
Capital Facilities and Maintenance Program — A base funding $1,576,500,000 $193,100,000 $196,485,956
Health Canada First Nations and Inuit Primary Health Care — Environmental Public Health Drinking Water Safety Program – FNWWAP funding $211,655,644 $23,535,902 $15,409,862 ER1.2 T1.2 and 1.3
AR1.2 and 1.3
See following table
Drinking Water Safety Program – A based funding $39,354,100 $4,283,300 $4,283,328 ER1.2
Total for all federal organizations $3,096,509,744 $357,519,202 $386,977,714  
a INAC 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.
2015–2016 Expected results 2015–2016 Targets 2015–2016 Actual results against targetsa
ER1.1
a) Increase in percent of First Nation drinking water systems with low-risk ratings.
b) Increase in percent of First Nation wastewater systems with low-risk ratings.
T1.1
a) 54% low risk by 2019
b) 65% low risk by 2019
AR1.1
a) The low risk ratings for drinking water systems decreased slightly from 57% in 2014–2015 to 56% in 2015–2016. The target was still exceeded by two percentage points.
b) The low risk ratings for wastewater systems decreased slightly from 48% in 2014–2015 to 45% in 2015–2016.
ER1.2
Support all First Nations communities in ensuring ongoing access to a trained Community-Based Water Monitor (CBWM) or Environmental Health Officer
T1.2
100% of First Nations communities will have full access to a trained CBWM or Environmental Health Officers to monitor their drinking water quality.
Date to achieve target: March 31, 2016
AR1.2 and 1.3
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.
48% of public water systems in First Nations communities were monitored as per the frequency recommended in the GCDWQb, an increase from 42% in 2014–2015. Currently this indicator only captures public water systems that were monitored at 100% of the compliance rate. To address this limitation, Health Canada has developed, in consultation with Statistics Canada, an indicator measuring the average sample frequency of all public water systemsc.
In 2015–2016, public water systems in First Nations communities were sampled on average 80% of the recommended frequency in the GCDWQ.
All regions have an early warning water database in place for the management of drinking water monitoring results and drinking water advisory information.
There were no instances where gastrointestinal illness was identified as a possible waterborne disease outbreak. Twelve wastewater and solid waste project proposals were received and reviewed from a public health perspective and recommendations were provided to Health Canada Environmental Health Officers, INAC, and the respective First Nation Community.
ER1.3
Continue to support all First Nations communities in ongoing monitoring of drinking water quality as per the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality (GCDWQ).
T1.3
Over 50% of on-reserve public distribution systems will meet weekly national testing guidelines for bacteriological parameters (e.g. based on testing frequency recommended in the GCDWQ).
Date to achieve target: March 31, 2016
a Performance indicators are defined in the Performance Measurement Strategies and/or Performance Measurement Frameworks of each federal partner.
b Results exclude communities in British Columbia transferred to the First Nations Health Authority in late 2013.
c Health Canada will report on this new indicator starting in 2016–2017 for the next five years (as approved in the latest First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan Treasury Board attestation.)

Comments on variances:
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
The difference between Planned Spending and Total Authorities primarily reflects funding provided through Supplementary Estimates for Operation Return Home: Manitoba Interlake Flood Remediation and Settlement.

Health Canada
The variance between planned and actual spending is mainly due to the reallocation of funds to address key pressures in Primary Care, such as Communicable Disease Control and Management to respond to urgent communicable disease outbreaks.

Results achieved by non-federal partners and non-governmental partners: Not applicable

Contact information:
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
David Smith
Senior Director
Program Design and Partnerships Directorate, Community Infrastructure Branch
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
Telephone: 819-292-1938
david.smith@aadnc-aandc.gc.ca

Health Canada
Jennifer Mercer
Acting Director
Population Health and Primary Care Directorate
First Nations and Inuit Health Branch
Health Canada
Telephone: 613-790-0657
jennifer.mercer@hc-sc.gc.ca

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