A news report indicates the threat of a massive public-private partnership (P3) water privatization scheme aimed at First Nations in Canada. Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow says, “This is a way for the Harper government to abandon it’s constitutional responsibility to First Nations and promote the corporate takeover of water from some of the most vulnerable communities in the country.”
Global Water Intelligence reports, “The prospect of structuring a P3 contract to address water and wastewater needs in Canada’s First Nations communities will move one step closer to reality following the completion of an engineering study which is likely to be tendered later this quarter. The results of the study will feed into the business case which will be presented to P3 Canada to support a funding application by up to 33 Atlantic First Nations communities. Should the application be successful, it could pave the way for a replicable contract structure which could then be rolled out across Canada’s 600 or so First Nations.”
The article adds, “Although the concept of bundling together a number of First Nations communities under one water P3 is not new, the idea was given fresh impetus following the enactment of Bill S-8 in November 2013, which anticipates new federal regulations to ensure access to safe drinking water and wastewater treatment for First Nations communities.” But the article does not note that First Nations have been highly critical of S-8, the so-called Act respecting the safety of drinking water on First Nations land, because the federal government failed to consult them on it, it does not include the necessary funding to meet the standards set in it, and it does not recognize First Nations right to water.
Council of Canadians water campaigner Emma Lui has commented, “Despite repeated pledges from the federal government to ensure clean drinking water, Health Canada reported 136 Drinking Water Advisories in 93 First Nation communities in January 2015. There are routinely over 100 water advisories in effect, with some communities living under advisories for over 10 years.”
The Council of Canadians rejects P3 privatization schemes and has called for the federal government to allocate $4.7 billion over ten years for water and wastewater facilities on First Nations’ reserves.