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February 26th, 2021

Auditor General report shows the Liberal government continues to fail First Nations

OTTAWA – A report released from the Auditor General concluded that the government still isn’t providing the support necessary for First Nations to have ongoing access to safe drinking water. New Democrats are demanding action for First Nations across the country, including a new co-developed law that would allow First Nations to enjoy the same legally binding protection of water quality that Canadians across the country already have.

“Sadly, the report shows that the government is still failing First Nations. This is the third report of this kind in the last 15 years and it’s completely unacceptable,” said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh. “Despite years of commitments from this government, the fact is that First Nations communities still don’t have clean, safe drinking water. Water isn’t a luxury – it’s a basic human need and human right. New Democrats will work with First Nations communities to ensure everyone has access to safe drinking water.”

Despite the government’s claims that the pandemic knocked them off course from their March 2021 promise, the Auditor General found that many of the existing advisories were facing big delays even before the pandemic. There were actually more long-term drinking water advisories in place at the end of 2020 than at the end of 2019. Even worse, nearly half of water systems are at high or medium risk – the exact same proportion as when the Liberals formed government.

The Liberals continue to use an outdated funding formula and a majority of First Nations communities still don’t have a fully trained and certified operator and backup operator for their water systems.

“Band aid fixes aren’t going to cut it. The Auditor General has laid out a clear path – stable, long-term, sustainable solutions to existing advisories, operating and maintenance funding that meets the needs of First Nations, and co-developed, binding regulations with real force that protect First Nations,” said NDP Deputy Critic for Crown Indigenous Relations and Indigenous Services, Rachel Blaney. “New Democrats have been fighting for this for a long time, and we’re ready to keep pushing the Liberal government to honour its word and its commitment to First Nations.”