The 2012 federal budget, Economic Action Plan 2012: Our plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity (EAP 2012), was released late yesterday afternoon. The details of how the various cuts will impact public service jobs and federal departments will be revealed over the coming months. Reflective of the concerns of people across Canada on the cuts to programs, jobs and services, 16 protestors interrupted Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s speech to demand “Where are we in the budget?” It is also clear that the Harper government failed to adequately prioritize key water issues in the budget.
Emma Lui's blog
The federal budget, to be released tomorrow, is expected to start a series of cuts to critical public services as well as public service jobs. Here's what to look for in some water-related areas.
Drinking Water for First Nation communities
This is a particularly important year for funding for drinking water in First Nation communities in the federal budget for two reasons. First, the federal government recently introduced Bill S-8 An Act respecting the safety of drinking water on First Nations lands (formerly Bill S-11) which, while creating a framework in which high standards can be set, fails to commit any funding to improve drinking water standards. There are some changes such as the removal of a clause requiring first nations to enter into third party agreements and recognition of the need to protect sources of drinking water from contamination. While we applaud the aim of the bill – improving the safety of drinking water in First Nation communities – the bill still has significant weaknesses. Similar to its predecessor, Bill S-8 appears to set up a framework that would download federal responsibility for drinking water on First Nation reserves onto “provinces, corporations or other bodies.” Despite claims by the government, some First Nations argue that they were not adequately consulted with this iteration. There is nothing in the Bill that would require the federal government to consult with First Nations in the development of related regulations. Finally, the lack of funding commitments and roles in Bill S-8 could force First Nations to privatize and lose control of their water systems. To read more about our concerns about Bill S-11, click here.
Yesterday, the Council of Canadians landed a large toy F-35 fighter jet on Parliament Hill to demand that the federal government completely back out of plans to purchase the fighter jets and invest needed funding in critical water services. In the Alternative Federal Budget, the Council of Canadians demands that the government uphold their legal obligation to the human right to water by investing $9.336 billion in water and wastewater infrastructure, drinking water on First Nation reserves, protecting the Great Lakes and addressing other gaps in water protection.
Tomorrow join the Canadian Federation of Students, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Sierra Youth Coalition, the Council of Canadians, and the Polaris Institute to celebrate Bottled Water Free Day.
In its third year, Bottled Water Free Day is a day where people pledge stand up against the privatization of water and support to public water. Communities with safe public drinking water across Canada are questioning the safety of bottled water, the corporate control of water and the serious environmental and social impacts of the bottled water industry.
What you can do:
Council of Canadians Trade Campaigner Stuart Trew and I met with Minister of State at the Department of
Communications, Energy & Natural Resources and Environment Fergus O’Dowd today in Toronto to raise our concerns about hydraulic fracturing. The Embassy of Ireland contacted us to set up a meeting so Minister O’Dowd could hear our perspectives about hydraulic fracturing in Canada.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a controversial method used to extract unconventional sources of gas such as shale gas, coal bed methane and tight gas. The process uses a mixture of sand, water and chemicals to blast apart shale and other rock formations to release trapped natural gas.
March 22 is World Water Day, and to mark this day, the Council of Canadians is encouraging its chapters and the public to take action for water in their community. As you know, there are few things more important than clean, safe water. But corporate control of drinking water, the growth of the bottled water industry, pollution from mining companies and fracking projects, and water shortages from droughts and over-extractions are all part of a growing global water crisis. In Canada, our government has failed to safeguard our water by refusing to implement a National Water Policy to protect and conserve it. The Canadian government also shamefully ignores the human right to water and sanitation, which was recognized by the United Nations in July 2010.
But you can make a difference. The fight for public water is happening now. Across Canada people are rejecting the commodification and privatization of water, and are raising awareness of the importance of clean, safe accessible public water for all.
Join us in marking the importance of World Water Day by organizing a water-themed event in your community. Be sure to let us know about your World Water Day activities so we can highlight them on our website. E-mail your event details to firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget to check out our resources and publications to help inform people and raise awareness.
In a recent CBC The Current radio interview, Elizabeth Brubaker, Environment Probe's executive director, debated Council of Canadians' Trade Campaigner Stuart Trew on water privatization in Canada within the context of the Canada-EU Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement.
In the January interview, Brubaker sang the praises of private sector participation in the water services sector. Brubaker claimed Public-Private Partnerships (P3) provided better opportunities to regulate industry because companies are under binding contracts. She also praised P3s for the "capital that private firms can invest," funding that is not "available at the federal or provincial level" and for companies' "expertise" and "efficiency."
The example of Moncton
In a recent CBC The Current radio interview, Elizabeth Brubaker, Environment Probe's executive director, debated Council of Canadians’ Trade Campaigner Stuart Trew on water privatization in Canada within the context of the Canada-EU Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement.
In the January interview, Brubaker sang the praises of private sector participation in the water services sector. Brubaker claimed Public-Private Partnerships (P3) provided better opportunities to regulate industry because companies are under binding contracts. She also praised P3s for the “capital that private firms can invest,” funding that is not “available at the federal or provincial level” and for companies’ “expertise” and “efficiency.”
Residents of Wakefield are continuing to fight the extension of Highway 5 between Chelsea and Wakefield which threaten old growth pine trees and the Valley Drive (Wakefield) Spring. The cutting of trees in Gatineau Park will begin on Monday. A5X, a group who is now leading this fight, was asked to remove all decorations by noon on Thursday. We need your help to save these trees and the Wakefield Spring!
The group and supporters will return to the park on Monday at 10am when cutting is scheduled to start. Some members of the group will sit up in some of the largest white pines to block the cutting. At the beginning of January, the group set up a camp in the forest off Brown Lake Road, just south of Wakefield.
If we can delay the cutting by even just a few months, we may be able to buy more time to stop the project. The cutting has to stop in early spring so that the trees are not cut when baby birds are in nests.
Residents of Wakefield have been fighting the extension of Highway 5 between Chelsea and Wakefield, Quebec for almost 2 years. The extension threatens old growth pines in Gatineau Park as well as Valley Drive (Wakefield) Spring. More than 3,000 local residents depend on the spring for their drinking water needs year round, while an additional 2,000 people use the spring seasonally.
All certificates have been approved, and the cutting of trees at Brown Lake will start any day now.
A5X, a growing group of citizens concerned with the impact of a 4-lane highway on the village of Wakefield and its environment, are urging people to contact Jean Charest and other politicians.