Keeping water systems running and properly staffed
Ensuring that water systems are running well, are properly maintained and that problems are addressed as they arise is critical to ensuring all First Nations communities have long-term, sustainable access to clean drinking water.
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Supporting local water operators
Local water operators are essential to ensuring communities have access to clean drinking water and reliable infrastructure. On a daily basis, they:
- monitor the operation of the plant
- adjust treatment processes
- conduct routine maintenance
- ensure the water quality meets or exceeds guidelines
Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) provides financial support for the day-to-day costs to operate and maintain water systems, including the training and certification of water and wastewater operators, as well as on-going operator support and retention.
ISC supports national and regional initiatives such as:
- Circuit Rider Training Program (CRTP)
- 12 water and wastewater hubs in Ontario, including the Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation, serving about 90 First Nations communities
- water operator training for Indigenous youth through Water First
- operator associations (to provide operator support on a regional level)
Through these initiatives water operators, community members and leaders have access to training support and can ensure timely monitoring takes place. Trained operators are key in helping First Nation communities to reduce and prevent risks and to ensure safe drinking water.
Funding to operate and maintain water and wastewater infrastructure
As part of Budget 2019, the Government of Canada invested $605.6 million over 4 years, starting in 2020 to 2021 and $184.9 million each year after to increase support for the operations and maintenance of First Nations' community water and wastewater assets funded by the Government of Canada. This investment will help ensure that First Nations infrastructure is better supported throughout its lifespan and will also help First Nations maintain their water and wastewater infrastructure.
In 2020, the Government of Canada announced additional funding, including $616.3 million over 6 years, starting in 2020 to 2021 and $114.1 million each year after to increase support for operations and maintenance of water and wastewater infrastructure on reserves. This doubles the funding available for operations and maintenance from 2015, and will result in a quadrupling of the funding by 2025.
This new funding also represents an increase from 80% to 100% for operations and maintenance of water and wastewater assets based on the operations and maintenance funding formula. Increased funding will enable First Nations to better retain qualified water operators in their communities, including through improved salaries, according to First Nations priorities.