Safe Drinking Water
On May 17, 2010, the Forum for Leadership on Water, Ecojustice, and the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources (CIER) released Seeking Water Justice: Strengthening Legal Protection for Canada’s Drinking Water. The report highlights the status of drinking water quality in Canada, revealing that certain communities in Canada – specifically rural and First Nations - are vulnerable to drinking water contamination. Risks are attributed to inadequate infrastructure, patchwork provincial laws, and a lack of binding drinking water standards from the federal government. Unlike the United States and European Union, Canada does not have legally binding national standards for drinking water. Instead, we have voluntary national guidelines and provinces establish their own standards which may or may not meet those guidelines.
Endorsed by the Assembly of First Nations and the National Specialty Society for Community Medicine, the report highlights the need for all levels of government to be involved in the provision of safe drinking water to Canadians. The authors identify gaps in the system and outlines steps for the federal government to take to ensure all Canadians, including First Nations, are legally entitled to a minimum quality of drinking water. These steps include:
- Legislate enforceable drinking water protection across Canada – collaborate will all levels of government to adopt legally binding national standards into their own legislation. A federal Safe Drinking Water Act would act as a safety net that would apply on federal lands and in provinces that did not provide the same level of health protection as the national standards.
- Enforce world-class drinking water standards - ensure Canadian drinking water standards are equal to or better than the highest standards in other industrialized nations.
- Provide resources for safe drinking water on first nations reserves - provide resources, support and capacity development required for safe drinking water on federal lands and all First Nations reserves that would enable them to implement national standards and regulations.
- Increase the transparency of reporting on the state of drinking water systems - establish consistent and standard reporting mechanisms.
Click here to download a full copy of the report.