Saturday, February 4, 2012

More First Nations Under Drinking Water Advisories

The number of First Nations under drinking water advisories has grown by nearly 40 per cent since 2006, the Liberals said Friday.

Using numbers provided in by the government in response to a question placed on the Order Paper, the Liberals said conditions have worsened on reserves since the Conservatives took over in 2006.

The number of First Nations living under drinking water advisories grew to 131 in 2011 from 95 in 2006, according to the numbers provided by the government in response to a question submitted by interim Liberal leader Bob Rae.

“The Conservative government says it is making progress to improve water quality for First Nations, but evidence clearly says otherwise,” said Liberal Aboriginal affairs critic Carolyn Bennett in a statement.

The number of communities under drinking water advisories grew nearly every year between 2006 and 2011. Only 2007 saw a drop with 93 communities under advisories, according to numbers provided by Health Canada. The number of First Nations under advisories jumped to 103 in 2008, 111 in 2009, 119 in 2010 and 131 in 2011.

Oil-rich Alberta saw the number of communities under advisories grow from eight to 33 between 2006 and 2011. Every other province, except Ontario, saw their numbers rise or remain the same over the same time period. In 2006, Ontario had 38 communities under advisories, which dropped by one to 37 in 2011.

Quebec only had one community under an advisory in 2011, the same as 2006. Manitoba, which has a number of communities with residents living with no running water, only had two First Nations living under an advisory in 2011.

British Columbia had 31 communities under advisories in 2011, up from 30 in 2006, Saskatchewan rose from 11 to 20 over the same time period and Atlantic Canada went from six to seven.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan has said the government has no plans for major new investments in improving the water situation on reserves. Instead, Duncan has said the government will focus on passing legislation to set regulations and standards for reserve water and wastewater systems.

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