First Nations Water and Wastewater

Previous commitments by the federal government have included $739 million for long term drinking water advisories and operations and maintenance infusions to solve water quality problems.   What remains unfunded are requirements for retrofits, upgrades, replacement of obsolete equipment, and capital replacement due to deterioration. These unfunded costs are contributing to the persistent difficulties with adequate system maintenance and the repeated drinking water advisories and boil water advisories.

The Green Budget Coalition supports the adoption of a new federal Operations and Maintenance funding policy for First Nations water infrastructure, based on an industry-standard Asset Management Plan approach.  This will support longer term requirements for fully funding operations and maintenance of First Nations water assets, and to support implementation of new First Nations led drinking water and wastewater legislation.  The GBC also supports full asset management and accounting of other First Nations’ infrastructure consistent with industry standards such as the Canadian General Accounting Principles and PSAB (Public Sector Accountability Board) standards which is the primary mechanism by which non First Nations communities plan for the installation and maintenance of their assets. 

At a bare minimum, the annual cost for the water infrastructure segment of First Nations’ assets is estimated by the Parliamentary Budget Officer at $361 million, although this may not allow for population growth, climate change resiliency impacts, or on-the-ground and below-ground infrastructure assessments which would disclose the actual state of the infrastructure.

Recommended Investment:  $361 million annually, ongoing, for First Nations’ water infrastructure operations and maintenance. 


Theresa McClenaghan –