The Federal government is moving ahead with its plan to implement drinking water standards on reserve.

Officials with Aboriginal Affairs told the Standing Senate Committee For Aboriginal Peoples they’ve already started to lay the groundwork for protocols and regulations in the maritimes.

Karl Carisse is a Senior Director with the department who told the Senate they’ve already received a message of support from a First Nations group in the region:

“The government of Canada recognizes the importance of engagement and is developing regulations region by region in collaboration with First Nations, provincial and territorial governments and other stakeholders. Work is already underway in the Atlantic region and a proposal and supportive resolution have been received from the Assembly of First Nations in Quebec and Labrador.”

He stressed the regulations will be phased in to give both bands and government time to get their infrastructure to the level required to meet Federal regulations.

In a related note he also informed the Senate they are working with the Atlantic Policy Congress to see if private-public partnership can help address certain water challenges:

“This project could see a private-sector company upgrade and manage all water and waste-water assets over several years. The private sector consortium would be contractually bound to provide water and waste-water services that meet the needs of the communities.”

What’s more Carisse said they were also talking to four First Nations in northern Manitoba to see if the private sector can help them meet water challenges at their local schools.

Another key item that was touched on was the progress being made by the First Nations Finance Authority which is apparently just a few months away from its first bond offering.

The authority is designed to give First Nations access to loans with good interest rates.

Patrick Haggerty is a senior policy manager with Aboriginal Affairs.

He reported there are several project ideas being floated about, including one from a band that would like to use the authority to help it build a school.

The bond offering could happen early in the new year:

“They are still getting themselves organized — certifying First Nations communities. Their initial bond offering, I heard recently they’re looking at February for an initial bond offering of 100 to 150 million dollars.”

Other types of loan requests the Authority is designed to handle include power projects, land purchases and heavy equipment.