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Council of Canadians calls on Trudeau to fulfill the right to sanitation for First Nations in Canada

First Nations Water

The Council of Canadians calls for the full realization of the human rights to water and sanitation, rights that were recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in July 2010.

Yesterday (Nov. 19) was World Toilet Day, an occasion to remember that around the world approximately 2.4 billion people lack access to a basic toilet. Within Canada, a National Assessment of First Nation Water and Wastewater Systems released in 2011 found that out of 532 wastewater systems in First Nations, 72 wastewater systems were deemed high risk and another 272 as medium risk.

That means that in many First Nations the right to sanitation is being violated.

Council of Canadians water campaigner Emma Lui notes, “I think there are still a lot people that think that people who don’t have drinking water — that’s an issue outside of Canada. And they don’t really think about that, it’s an issue in Canada, and that there are many Indigenous communities that are living their day-to-day lives without running water and without proper wastewater systems.”

But Global News reports, “The Council of Canadians is hopeful changes will be made under the Liberal government.”

Lui highlights, “The Liberal Party has recognized the right to water and sanitation and Justin Trudeau has committed to ending boil-water advisories. So we’re really hoping that along with that they’ll allocate the $4.7 billion over the next ten years that’s needed to address water and wastewater systems.”

And as Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has noted, the UN recognition of the rights to water and sanitation means that the Canadian government is obligated under international law to come up with a plan to fulfill these rights. Canada will have to report on its human rights record at the United Nations by July 24, 2020.

We hope that the federal government will have taken committed action to address this situation by then.

Ultimately, we will also be able to vote on the Trudeau government’s fulfillment of these human rights at the next election, which takes place on October 21, 2019. 

Further reading
Trudeau must ensure the right to water and sanitation for First Nations within five years (Oct. 31, 2015)