New poll indicates most Canadians want Harper to recognize the right to water and make water a budget priority

March 21, 2011
Media Release

Ottawa - A new Environics Research poll commissioned by the Council of Canadians indicates that 73% of Canadians want the Harper government to recognize the human right to clean and safe water and sanitation. In 2010, the United Nations passed a historic resolution recognizing the human right to water and sanitation. The resolution passed overwhelmingly with 122 states voting in favour. 41 countries abstained, including Canada.

“It was a great honour to be present as the UN General Assembly took this historic step forward for water justice,” says Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “It is shameful that the Harper government chose to abstain at that important moment in history. We are calling on all federal parties to ensure that the right to water and sanitation is recognized - and implemented - in Canada.”

The poll also found that 78% of Canadians support the federal government spending $31 billion in federal budgets over the coming years for urgently needed maintenance and upgrading of water and waste water infrastructure. In November 2007, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities released its report titled Danger Ahead: The Coming Collapse of Canada’s Municipal Infrastructure, which stated that $31 billion was needed to “repair and prevent deterioration” in water infrastructure (distribution, supply and treatment) and wastewater systems (sanitary and storm sewers and related treatment facilities).

“Introducing a federal budget on March 22, World Water Day, is an opportunity to prioritize spending on Canada's water needs," says national water campaigner Emma Lui. "Will the federal budget spend $31 billion on water and wastewater infrastructure or $29 billion on warplanes in the coming years? The Council of Canadians is concerned that the Harper government is getting the answer to this crucial question wrong."

The Council of Canadians will be available for comments on the federal budget. The organization argues that the Harper government should allocate $7 billion to water priorities in this upcoming federal budget,

The Environics Research telephone survey was conducted from March 8-11, 2011, among a national random sample of 1,000 adults comprising 503 males and 497 females 18 years of age and older, living in Canada. The margin of error for a sample of this size is +/- 3.10%, 19 times out of 20.