Skip to content

Communities celebrate World Water Day despite federal budget abandoning water protection

The 2013 federal budget, released the day before World Water Day, failed to invest in needed water and wastewater infrastructure without privatization conditions, water protections including for the Great Lakes and the Experimental Lakes Area.

Despite the federal government’s dismal track record on water protection, over forty Council of Canadians chapters have organized 55 events across the country to raise awareness on water issues including fracking, bottled water, privatization, mining, tar sands development and the Great Lakes.

“The Canadian government recognized the human right to water and sanitation last year, but has yet to take the necessary measures to implement this fundamental human right. With yesterday’s budget we are very concerned about the federal government’s commitment to address the water crises that some communities are already facing,” says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “We are seeing very serious threats to watersheds in Canadian and indigenous communities and we need a government that is willing to invest in critical services.”

The federal budget continued investments of $1.25 billion into the controversial Public-Private Partnership (P3) fund, which requires municipalities to enter into agreements with private companies in order to get funding for water and wastewater infrastructure. Case studies in Canada and around the world have shown that P3s not only cost more but also result in job losses and decreases in water quality.

“We are in a political context where indigenous communities and environmental and local groups are the frontline defenders of local watersheds and water sources,” says Emma Lui, Water Campaigner for the Council of Canadians. “Although it’s deeply disappointing that our federal government won’t implement an effective plan for ensuring safe water for communities, we are heartened to see communities stand up and protect their water sources from fracking, mining, pipelines and other threats.”

In the Alternative Federal Budget released last week, the Council of Canadians calls for a long term plan on 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 on pollutants that are not covered by the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement or the National Pollutant Release Inventory.
  • $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.
  • $2 million annually to reinstate the Experimental Lakes Area.

World Water Day events are planned in Brockville, Calgary,  Campbell River, Comox Valley, Cowichan Valley, Edmonton, Fraser Valley, Fredericton, Guelph, Halifax, Hamilton, Hope, Kamloops, Kelowna, Kingston, Lethbridge, London, Mahone Bay, Moncton, Montreal, Moose Jaw, North Shore, Ottawa, Parksville / Mid Island – Nanaimo, Pemberton, Peterborough, Port Alberni, Prince Albert, Red Deer, Regina, Sackville, Saint John, Simcoe Region, South Shore, Sudbury, Tatamagouche, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Williams Lake, Windsor and Winnipeg.