|Priority 3 – Securing Safe Drinking Water for All Canadians
- Guarantee an Equal Playing Field
- Prevent Pollution of Water Sources
- Renew Our Crumbling Infrastructure
The Canadian government estimates that contaminated drinking water causes 90 deaths and 90,000 cases of illness annually and independent health experts suggest a much higher number of Canadians suffer from gastrointestinal illnesses related to their drinking water. Despite these statistics, in most cases, provincial and municipal policies ensure our drinking water is safe for consumption. Yet inconsistencies and inequities exist. As the water contamination events in Walkerton, North Battleford, and Kashechewan illustrate, problems are most severe in communities that rely on small drinking water systems and in First Nations reserves.
Action 9: Legislate Enforceable Drinking Water Protection Across Canada
- Ensure consistent drinking water requirements by replacing current Canadian Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality with a Safe Drinking Water Act that has health-based long-term objectives and legally-binding minimum national standards. Legislation would act as a federal safety net and would apply on federal lands and in provinces that did not provide the same level of health protection as national standards.
Action 10: Provide Resources for Safe Drinking Water on First Nations Reserves.
- Take urgent steps to provide the resources and support required for safe drinking water on federal lands and all First Nation reserves. Invest in appropriate treatment and distribution, training and ongoing support of water treatment operators. Appoint a special envoy to monitor and publicly report on progress to ensure accountability under applicable drinking water management regimes.
Action 11: Create a Comprehensive Toolkit for Preventing Water Pollution.
- Increase monitoring and enforcement of pollution laws.
- Require a minimum of secondary wastewater treatment for all Canadian municipalities.
- Make pollution prevention plans mandatory for large industrial polluters and reverse the burden of proof under CEPA so that industry wanting to introduce a new chemical is required to provide satisfactory evidence that it is safe.
- Enshrine the substitution principle in CEPA so that safer substitutes must replace toxic substances as alternatives become available.
- Develop a public education campaign to alert householders of the dangers of PPCPs.
- Provide financial support to provinces and territories to facilitate more effective controls on non-point source pollution.
Action 12: Fund Infrastructure Renewal and Link to Multi-Barrier Protection.
- Enter into new cost-sharing arrangements with provincial governments to increase grants to municipalities for the renewal and restoration of water infrastructure. Infrastructure funding should encourage sustainable infrastructure planning, green infrastructure, water conservation, and source water protection.
- Encourage municipal governments to recover the costs of water supply and treatment through appropriate pricing mechanisms.
Go to Priority Three resources.