Manitoba First Nations still waiting on Feds to lift drinking water advisory
WINNIPEG -- The new date for lifting long-term drinking water advisories in First Nations communities has still not been set by Indigenous Services Canada.
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller announced Wednesday that over the last five years, $3.5 billion was invested into 98 new water plants and 418 upgrades.
Since 2015, 100 long-term drinking water advisories were lifted.
“Communities are very happy. I wish everyone could share in that. But they know that there's a lot more work to do. And they know that they have brother and sister communities across the country that aren't in their situation and they're eager to keep the pressure on us to get it done,” said Miller.
There are 38 First Nation communities still under a drinking water advisory.
“This is something that is a basic matter of human decency that in a country like Canada people don’t have access to clean water, and it bugs me,” said Miller.
Four of the First Nation communities still under a drinking water advisory are in Manitoba. One is Tataskweyak Cree Nation, which is leading a class action lawsuit against the federal government.
“I wish they would go by their word and work with our First Nation to help fix this problem in our community,” said Tataskweyak Cree Nation Chief Doreen Spence.
Indigenous Services Canada said part of the reason a deadline can’t be set is because of pandemic restrictions, supply chains and human resources. It said it hopes with the upcoming construction season to make up for delays.
“I don’t really believe anything is going to happen until we get some type of letter or indication that they are going to work with our First Nation,” said Spence.
Miller said a new website has been created to track the remaining advisories.
“People can go community by community and see what is the commitment of the federal government and what is happening—what is the progress for each timeline to get the water advisory lifted,” said Miller.
“Most Canadians aren’t aware of what’s happening in First Nation communities so I think it's good information to share,” said Spence.
Until changes are made, Spence said the community still suffers from skin rashes, stomach ailments, and the water that is shipped in, is not enough.