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Alternative Federal Budget calls for bold national water policy

Striking a Better BalanceIn Striking a Better Balance: Alternative Federal Budget 2014 released today, the Council of Canadians is calling on the Conservative government to implement a bold, long-term plan on water protection in order to fulfill its international obligations on the human right to water and sanitation.
“It’s been nearly two years since the Conservative government recognized the human right to water and sanitation, but it has yet to take concrete action to fulfill its obligation. With the upcoming federal budget next week, it is crucial we start to see strong investments in water protection,” says Emma Lui, National Water Campaigner for the Council of Canadians. “The budget cuts and budget implementation bills in past years were an attack on our water sources. Communities need big investments in infrastructure, research and a strong action plan to protect their water sources from fracking, trade agreements, mining, pipelines and other threats.”
In the Alternative Federal Budget released today, the Council of Canadians calls for a national water policy that outlines long-term funding commitments for water protection and recommends funding to the following areas:

  • A 20-year plan that will require a federal investment of $39 billion in a National Public Water and Wastewater Fund. The federal portion would start at $2.6 billion a year for the first six years and replace the systems rated ‘poor’ or worse. For the next 14 years, the federal government would commit $1.67 billion annually.
  • $1 billion annually for 20 years to fund the wastewater systems effluent regulations.
  • A 10-year plan investing $4.7 billion for water and wastewater facilities on First Nation reserves. 
  • $500 million to implement a Great Lakes Action Plan by establishing a Great Lakes commons framework based on local decision-making and cleaning up areas of concern and priority zones, controlling invasive species, and creating an inventory of pollutants that are not covered by the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement or the National Pollutant Release Inventory.
  • Investing $327.5 million over three years in order to establishing water quality and quantity monitoring frameworks by:

    • increasing the number of monitoring stations;
    • training staff in water monitoring;
    • contributing to the UN Global Environment Monitoring System; and
    • creating a new water minister position.
  • $50 million for environmental assessments for energy and mining projects as well as $32 million for an in-depth study of the water effects of tar sands and incorporating public input in the federal reviews on fracking.
  • $5 million to support research on the effects of climate change on watersheds.
  • $2 million annually to reinstate the Experimental Lakes Area.

Read the water chapter, which calls for a National Water Policy based on the principles of water as a commons, public trust and human right. The full budget document, a budget-in-brief, and infographics are available in both English and French at https://www.policyalternatives.ca/afb2014.