Environment Commish Worried About Reserve Water

Friday, September 30, 2005 at 13:29



Federal Environment Commissioner Johanne Gelinas is expressing major concern about the lack of laws and regulations on drinking water in First Nations communities.


In a report tabled yesterday in the House of Commons, Gelinas says the current situation is unacceptable.


She points out that there are currently no federal laws or regulations governing the provision of drinking water to residents of First Nations reserves.


Gelinas says most Canadians take it for granted their drinking water is safe, but the nearly half-million people living on reserves have no such assurance.


In 2001, Indian Affairs found a significant risk to the drinking water in three quarters of the country’s on-reserve water systems.


A more recent audit has found that many First Nations communities remain exposed to risks from unsafe drinking water.


On top of a lack of legislation, Gelinas says the federal government is also providing inadequate technical support.


She says unless that changes, it is unlikely a five-year, $600-million First Nations water strategy announced in 2003 will make any difference.