The federal government should create a Minister of Water in cabinet to carry out urgently needed expansion of water protections, says the Council of Canadians. With the federal budget being tabled on March 22 – World Water Day – the Council of Canadians is urging the federal government to allocate adequate funds and fulfill its responsibility to protect water.
In Alternative Federal Budget 2016: It’s time to move on, released today, the Council of Canadians is calling for $7.4 billion to be spent on protecting drinking water and freshwater sources. The water chapter calls for funds to recognize the human right to water and sanitation, support public water and wastewater infrastructure, end drinking water advisories in First Nations, reinstate gutted water science and research programs, and assess the impacts of tar sands, fracking, mining and other energy development projects.
“The Alternative Federal Budget calls for the human right to water and sanitation to be recognized and communities need adequate funding to do that,” says Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “Governments around the world came together to recognize this fundamental right at the United Nations over five years ago. Yet five years later, clean water sources are still being threatened by sewage, bottled water takings, fracking, tar sands pipelines and other industrial projects. To give life and meaning to the human right to water and sanitation, the federal government must provide the funding needed to empower communities to protect freshwater.”
The water chapter of the AFB calls for:
- $5.8 billion to create a national public water and wastewater fund, including infrastructure aid for small municipalities and training, certification and conservation programs
- $500 million to protect the Great Lakes
- $470 million for water and wastewater in First Nations communities
- $117 million for protecting freshwater including implementing a groundwater protection plan, reviewing virtual water exports from Canada and creating a Minister of Water cabinet position
- $80 million for assessments of fracking, tar sands, mining and other energy projects, including community consultations and seeking free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous communities
- $94 million for reinstating federal funding for the Experimental Lakes Area and water programs at Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, Parks Canada Agency and other departments
“We were heartened to see Prime Minister Trudeau commit to addressing some very serious and long-standing water issues. On budget day, the Trudeau government will show how committed it is to seeing through its promises,” says Emma Lui, water campaigner for the Council of Canadians. “From the government’s commitment to ending First Nations drinking water advisories to restoring freshwater protections, communities from coast to coast are waiting to see what action the new government will take to steer us away from the Harper government’s harmful legacy on freshwater.”