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Water Justice Exec Email

Water Justice Exec Email

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Published by tehaliwaskenhas
A new report points to the urgency of ensuring First Nations receive resources so they can gain equal access to safe drinking water
A new report points to the urgency of ensuring First Nations receive resources so they can gain equal access to safe drinking water

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Published by: tehaliwaskenhas on May 17, 2010
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STrenGTenInG LeGL PrTeCTInFr CnD’S DrInInG WTer
eXecutiVe SuMMarY
eXecutiVe SuMMarY
WTer InSTICe – CnDInSve neqL CCeSS T SFeDrInInG WTer
Canadians do not have equal access to saedrinking water – a basic source o survival.2010 marks the anniversary o two o themost signicant water contamination events inCanada’s history:10
anniversary o Walkerton, ON – seven peopledied and thousands o residents became ill (somepermanently) because o
contamination othe town’s drinking water source.5
anniversary o Kashechewan First Nations, ON– three quarters o the community’s members wereevacuated when
was reported in the drinkingwater supplies.While high-prole disasters such as Walkerton are rareoccurrences in Canada, they are a tragic reminder othe high cost o ailing to protect the water we drink.Despite the lessons o Walkerton and Kashechewan,troubling signs suggest there are still signicant risksto Canada’s drinking water. For example, in April2008, the Canadian Medical Association reportedthat there were 1,776 drinking water advisories ineect across Canada – this is simply unacceptable ina developed country in the 21
Century.Unequal access to sae drinking water in Canadais particularly evident in Canada’s First Nationscommunities and in rural and remote communities.As o April 30th, 2010, there were 116 First Nationscommunities across Canada under a Drinking WaterAdvisory and it is estimated that 20–40% o allrural wells in Canada have nitrate concentrations orcoliorm bacteria counts in excess o drinking waterguidelines and posing threats to health.
Unlike the United States and European Union, wedo not have legally binding national standardsor drinking water. Instead, we have voluntarynational guidelines and provinces establish theirown standards which may or may not meet thoseguidelines. This leaves signicant populations, suchas First Nations and rural communities, vulnerableto waterborne diseases, boil water advisoriesand associated health eects. The patchwork odrinking water laws across the country also meansthat depending on the province or territory youlive in, you may have access to a higher standardo drinking water than your riends or amily inanother part o the country. In act, only thoseliving in Alberta, Nova Scotia, Quebec,Ontario andYukon have governments that have “adopted” the
Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality 
. Butnot all o those jurisdictions require testing or theull suite o parameters in the Guidelines. Close tohal o Canadian jurisdictions lack mandatory testingor chemical contamination o drinking water andover hal do not require advanced water treatmentor surace water (as is required in the EuropeanUnion and United States).
The ull report,
Seeking Water Justice: StrengtheningLegal Protection for Canada’s Drinking Water 
,highlights the need or all levels o government tobe involved in the provision o sae drinking water toCanadians. The report identies gaps in the systemand outlines steps or the ederal government totake to ensure all Canadians, including First Nations,are legally entitled to a minimum quality o drinkingwater. These steps include:
The ederal government should collaborate withprovincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governmentsto assist all parties in adopting legally bindingdrinking water quality standards (the maximumallowable concentrations o potentially harmulsubstances in drinking water) in their own legislationwithin ve years. This joint eort will ensurethe health and saety o all Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians despite which province or
ccodig to Daid Boyd autho of
The Water we Drink 
, “Caada’s lack ofstadads is a wakss i potctig thhalth of Caadias.” Th olutay dikigwat guidlis i this couty a waktha lgally bidig dikig wat ualitystadads i oth idustializd atios,icludig focabl gulatios i thitd Stats ad th euopa io.Th pot cocludd that Caada’sguidlis w outdatd, wak admo lit compad to thos of oucoutpats i euop ad th itd Stats:• TDTeD – th is a uaccptablbacklog of outdatd guidlis fo physicalad chmical paamts du to budgtductios• We – May of th paamts i thCaadia guidlis a up to 1000 timswak tha at last o of th othcospodig euopa stadads oustalia guidlis.• Mre LenIenT – Caada has wakMC (maximum allowabl coctatio)guidlis tha at last o oth juisdictio (euopa io, itdStats o ustalia) o th Wold althgaizatio fo 53 of th 67 cotamiatsxamid i th study, icludigmicobiological cotamiats, chmicalcotamiats, adiological cotamiats,ad disifctio bypoducts.
territory they live. The ederal government coulddo this by replacing the Canadian Guidelines orDrinking Water Quality with a Sae Drinking WaterAct that has health-based long term objectives andlegally binding minimum national standards andregulations. The Sae Drinking Water Act wouldunction as a ederal saety net and would applyon ederal lands and in provinces that did notprovide the same level o health protection as thenational standards.
The ederal government should ensure Canadiandrinking water standards are equal to or better thanthe highest standards in other industrialized nationsto protect human health and the environment.
The ederal government should take urgentsteps to provide resources, support and capacitydevelopment required or sae drinking wateron ederal lands and all First Nations reserves toenable them to implement national standards andregulations. Resources need to be made available orappropriate treatment and distribution, wastewatertreatment and collection, source water protection,training and ongoing support o water andwastewater treatment operators. The Governmento Canada should work with the Assembly o FirstNations and interested parties to develop a FirstNations Water Commission – a model the AFN hasidentied as essential or First Nations-controlleddrinking water management. First Nations should beco-authors in developing drinking water legislationthat applies to them to ensure it is respectul o theirinherent, Aboriginal and treaty rights.
Establish consistent and standard reportingmechanisms to increase transparency and trackrelevant statistics and inormation about thestate o drinking water and wastewater systemsthrough a Federal-Provincial-Territorial body suchas the Canadian Drinking Water Committee. Thisinormation needs to be made available to thepublic through an annual report to Parliament.

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