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Trudeau must deliver on water justice in his federal budget on March 22, World Water Day

Water warriors Maude Barlow, Emma Lui, Meera Karunananthan and Robin Tress will be speaking about water justice on World Water Day.

The Trudeau government will table its second federal budget on Wednesday March 22, which is World Water Day.

Vancouver-based Council of Canadians water campaigner Emma Lui has written a chapter on water issues in the Alternative Federal Budget which will be released tomorrow, Thursday March 9. In it, Lui calls the Trudeau government to invest $4.7 billion into First Nations water and wastewater services.

That specific figure is based on a ‘National Assessment of First Nations Water and Wastewater Systems’ conducted by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada in 2011. That report estimated it would cost $4.7 billion over a ten year period to meet the department’s protocols for water and wastewater services for First Nations communities, including an immediate $1.2 billion to deal with high-risk systems. It has also estimated that $889 million is needed every year for First Nations water and wastewater facilities including projected operating and maintenance.

Lui has commented, “Budget 2016 allocated $2.24 billion over the next five years for improving on reserve water and wastewater infrastructure and waste management. But [rather than the immediate $1.2 billion recommended], the government will spend $296 million in year one and $322 million in year two.” The average annual expenditure will be about $448 million and a large portion of this spending has been back-ended. Lui concluded, “It falls short of what is needed.”

Nineteen Council of Canadians chapters will be organizing for World Water Day. Four chapters will be screening Bottled Life, three chapters will be tabling at various locations, two chapters will be screening Tapped, and two chapters will be presenting to their city council on becoming a blue community.

Also happening on World Water Day this year:

  • Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow will be releasing her new 34-page report Water for Sale: How free trade and investment agreements threaten environmental protection of water and promote the commodification of the world’s water.

  • Barlow will also be speaking at a Water Justice conference in New York City (portions of which will be live streamed).

  • Lui will be speaking at a Mid-Island chapter organized World Water Day event in Nanaimo.

  • Blue Planet Project director Meera Karunananthan will be speaking at a ‘Protecting our water together’ public forum in Ottawa.

  • Halifax-based Council of Canadians organizer Robin Tress will be speaking at public forum on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and water protection (March 21).

  • Ottawa-based Council of Canadians campaigner Daniel Cayley-Daoust will be on a human rights delegation to Barriere Lake in Quebec where Algonquins are fighting a mining company in defence of their drinking water.

  • The Peel Watershed case (in which First Nations and conservation groups are seeking to protect a vast watershed in northern Yukon from mining) will be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada.


Further reading
The Council of Canadians to comment on Trudeau’s 2017 federal budget