CANADIAN PRESS – TORONTO – Ontario will push for a national agreement at this week’s First Ministers’ meeting in Vancouver to ensure First Nations communities have safe, clean drinking water, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Tuesday.
There are more than 150 boil water advisories or do not consume advisories in about 112 First Nations communities across Canada, some more than 15 years old. “It’s unacceptable to me that we have boil water orders in First Nations communities in Ontario, and that is the case across the country,” said Wynne.
“If we don’t find a way for the federal government, the provincial government and indigenous leadership to work together better on something as fundamental as provision of clean water, then I think that we should be very ashamed of ourselves.”
First Nations’ leaders from northern Ontario declared a public-health emergency last week, asking for a detailed intervention plan to ensure communities have access to safe, clean drinking water. A dire shortage of basic medical supplies and an epidemic of suicides among young people were other reasons for issuing their plea for help.
Wynne said she’ll raise the drinking water issue when she meets Wednesday with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, provincial and territorial premiers and First Nations, Inuit and Metis leaders in Vancouver.
Indigenous leaders will be consulted for their input on Canada’s approach to climate change, but Wynne said she knows they have other pressing issues to deal with.
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