NEWS RELEASE: Canada: Water Crisis Puts First Nations Families at Risk


Click here for full report:

(Toronto) – Canada has abundant water, yet water in many indigenous communities in Ontario is not safe to drink, Human Rights Watch said in a new report today. The water on which many First Nations communities in Canada, on lands known as reserves, depend is contaminated, hard to access, or toxic due to faulty treatment systems. The federal and provincial governments need to take urgent steps to address their role in this crisis.

“Tainted water and broken systems on Ontario’s First Nations reserves are jeopardizing health, burdening parents and caregivers, and exacerbating problems on reserves,” said Amanda Klasing, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “First Nations people have the same human rights to adequate water and sanitation as all Canadians, but in practice cannot access them.”

The 92-page report, “Make It Safe: Canada’s Obligation to End the First Nations Water Crisis,” documents the impacts of serious and prolonged drinking water and sanitation problems for thousands of indigenous people – known as “First Nations” – living on reserves.

It assesses why there are problems with safe water and sanitation on reserves, including a lack of binding water quality regulations, erratic and insufficient funding, faulty or sub-standard infrastructure, and degraded source waters. The federal government’s own audits over two decades show a pattern of overpromising and underperforming on water and sanitation for reserves.

Across Canada today, there are 133 advisories in place in 89 First Nations reserves warning that the water is not safe to drink. Most of them are concentrated in Ontario. These drinking water advisories – some in place for decades – represent the worst examples of systemic water and wastewater challenges facing First Nations in Canada. Canadian off-reserve communities have nowhere near this level of risk to their water; their systems are subject to regulations, and long-term water advisories are far rarer.

“As Human Rights Watch points out, we in First Nation communities must have what Canadians take for granted: safe water and proper sanitation,” said Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day. “Although there has been some progress and lots of promises, there are far too many Indigenous people still living – and dying – in poverty in this country today.”

For the rest of this news release, click here: