Canada Sets Regulatory Meetings with First Nation Communities

Chuck Strahl, minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians and Leona Aglukkaq, minister of Health, recently announced upcoming sessions on the development of a proposed legislative framework for drinking water and wastewater in First Nation communities to begin in February 2009.

"Our government knows that access to clean drinking water and wastewater systems is vital to the health and safety of every Canadian and we are continuing to take decisive action to improve water issues in First Nation communities," said Strahl. "Moving forward in partnership will bring us closer to making sure that people on reserve the same protection for drinking water and wastewater as those in similar communities off reserve."

First Nation communities and regional First Nations organizations across the country, and provincial and territorial governments (except Nunavut, where there are no First Nations), will be invited to attend engagement sessions. Discussions during the sessions will focus on the scope and elements of a proposed federal legislative framework for drinking water and wastewater in First Nation communities, as well as the roles and responsibilities of the Government of Canada and First Nations.

"The Government of Canada is taking real action to help improve water and wastewater in First Nations communities," said Minister Aglukkaq. "These sessions will provide an important opportunity for First Nations to participate in discussions on the development of a legislative framework. We look forward to working together with representatives from across the country toward this common goal."

In 2006, the Government of Canada announced a Plan of Action for Drinking Water in First Nation Communities to take decisive action to improve access to safe, clean drinking water on reserves. Building on this progress, a two-year $330 million investment in a First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan, announced in 2008, introduced new measures for improving drinking water and wastewater in First Nation communities. Consulting with First Nation communities, First Nation organizations, and provincial/territorial governments on the creation of a federal legislative framework for drinking water and wastewater on reserve was part of that commitment.

Those who wish to submit their views on the proposed legislative approach in writing can do so before April 17. Complete details are available at http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/enr/wtr/h2o/index-eng.asp.

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