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431-00134 (Indigenous affairs)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

We, the undersigned, students from Notre Dame High school, draw the attention of the House to the following:

THAT the lack of clean water and the issues of inadequate housing on reserves is a serious problem for First Nations Canadians.

THAT Canada strives to treat all Canadians equally, while such a basic right it being violated for First Nation Canadians at the same time.

THAT these ongoing problems to be taking place today in Canada is unacceptable, and must be looked at more seriously to help resolve these issues.

THEREFORE, your petitioners request that Parliament lend more funding and spend more time tending to these issues facing First Nations Canadians on reserves.

Response by the Minister of Indigenous Services

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Pam Damoff

The Minister of Indigenous Services would like to thank the petitioners for expressing their concerns regarding access to clean water and housing.

All Canadians should have access to safe, clean, and reliable drinking water. In Budget 2016, Canada committed to strengthen water and wastewater infrastructure in First Nations communities, improve drinking water monitoring on reserve, and end long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserve by March 2021.

Since Budget 2016, the Government has committed more than $2 billion towards water and wastewater infrastructure. Budget 2019 committed an additional $739 million over five years, with $184.9 million per year ongoing, to support urgent repairs to vulnerable water and wastewater systems and the operations and maintenance of water and wastewater infrastructure in First Nations communities.

To date, more than $1.44 billion of targeted funding has been invested to support 602 water and wastewater projects, including 276 that are now completed. These projects will serve approximately 464,000 people in 586 First Nations communities.

While there is still much to do, good progress is being made. Since November 2015, in partnership with First Nations communities and other partners, 88 long-term drinking water advisories have been lifted from public water systems on reserves. Resolving short-term advisories before they become long-term is also an important part of the overall work to eliminate long-term drinking water advisories. Since November 2015, 153 short-term drinking water advisories (lasting between two and 12 months) have been lifted, preventing them from becoming long-term.

In regards to access to housing, the Government of Canada recognizes that access to safe and affordable housing is essential to developing healthier, more sustainable Indigenous communities, and improving their social well-being. As part of the National Housing Strategy, the Government committed to co-develop distinctions-based Indigenous housing strategies for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. These strategies are grounded in the principles of self-determination, reconciliation, respect, cooperation, and partnership, with an aim to further enable greater progress.

One role of the Government is to provide funding to support First Nation care, control, and management of safe, healthy, and affordable housing on reserve. Since April 2016, federal investments totaling $1.02 billion have been provided for First Nations housing on reserve, through Indigenous Services Canada and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. These investments have supported the completion of 2,098 housing projects, resulting in 18,744 new or renovated housing units and lots serviced, benefitting more than 591 First Nations communities.

The Government has been engaging in a renewed, respectful process to work in collaboration with Indigenous partners to improve housing outcomes. However, the Government accepts that there is much more to do and will continue to work in partnership with Indigenous peoples to implement community-led solutions.

Across the country, Indigenous peoples, non-Indigenous Canadians, and the Government are working hard to improve the quality of life of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. Together, we are making steady progress – advancing reconciliation and forging a new relationship based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation, and partnership.

For further information on specific projects, the petitioners are invited to consult the section “Interactive Map: Investing in First Nations Community Infrastructure” at https://geo.sac-isc.gc.ca/ciir-riim/ciir_riim_en.html. This map shows ongoing and completed infrastructure projects supported by Indigenous Services Canada in First Nations communities across Canada, and includes specific information on clean water or wastewater and housing projects.

Presented to the House of Commons
Nathaniel Erskine-Smith (Beaches—East York)
March 9, 2020 (Petition No. 431-00134)
Government response tabled
April 20, 2020
Photo - Nathaniel Erskine-Smith
Beaches—East York
Liberal Caucus
Ontario

Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.

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