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Alternative Federal Budget 2023

Water – Alternative Federal Budget 2023

The Alternative Federal Budget (AFB) project is a collaboration among organizations and researchers from a variety of sectors, populations, and areas of expertise including human rights, labour, environmental protection, anti-poverty, arts and culture, social development, child development, international development, women, Indigenous peoples, the faith-based community, students, teachers, education, and health care workers. Published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), the AFB is a comprehensive budget that asks the federal government to rise to the challenge and provide public solutions that ensure justice, sustainability, inclusion, and collective action.

The Council of Canadians Water Campaigner Mark Calzavara authored the Water chapter.

Excerpt from water chapter

Decades of neoconservative government policy decisions have undermined the critical water infrastructures that support our communities, leaving them especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Reversing this trend and rebuilding the lost systems and expertise will require many years of continuous attention and resources. The impacts of climate change are happening much faster than predicted by most scientific bodies. Weather conditions and events once considered extreme or exceptional are occurring with such startling frequency that even the most ambitious mitigation and adaptation plans may be inadequate to ensure that communities remain viable. We must reverse this trend immediately and reinvest in our natural and built water infrastructure.

We have built infrastructure to provide clean drinking water, sewage and stormwater management, electricity production and promote countless economic activities. Many Canadian cities still rely on water pipes laid over a century ago. All infrastructure requires ongoing investment to continue to function as designed. Unfortunately, governments at all levels in Canada have tended to ignore these requirements, resulting in massive backlogs and deficits for maintenance.1

There is also the so-called “natural infrastructure” that most of Canada’s built infrastructure relies upon. A water treatment plant is useless without a dependable supply of water. We build hydro dams and sewage treatment plants based upon probabilities of how much water flow will be available to power our homes and dilute our treated wastewater to “acceptable levels” of pollution for those downstream. This natural infrastructure has always been under pressure from short-sighted development, but many of the wise decisions to protect our natural infrastructure in the past have recently been undermined and reversed in the name of short-term profit. This is resulting in the proverbial death by a thousand cuts of various kinds of natural and built infrastructure that are critical for the long-term health of our communities. Canada must invest in the resiliency of our built water infrastructure, in the protection of our remaining natural water infrastructure, and in acquiring and preserving the knowledge we need to make better decisions regarding water. While the federal government has recently taken some positive action, the urgency of responding to climate change requires a much greater commitment than we have seen to date.

Read the full chapter.