Members of a northern Ontario First Nations community that was under long-term boil-water advisories for 14 years can now access safe drinking tap water thanks to a new water treatment plant.
The Slate Falls First Nation, located approximately 550 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, had been under 11 drinking water advisories since 2004. The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the plant, which was built with a $11.6 million investment by the federal government, was held yesterday.
— The Hon. Bob Nault (@BobNaultMP) March 7, 2018
“Today is a big day to make changes to our lifestyle and we are very excited to finally be able to drink water right from the tap,” said Slate Falls chief Lorraine Crane in a statement.
“The community is looking forward to not having to purchase water or boil the water, and after almost 14 years of the boil water advisory, it will be a positive adjustment and a change to our lifestyle,” she said.
The ceremony was attended by federal minister of indigenous services Jane Philpott, Member of Parliament Bob Nault, whose riding includes the region, and other community leaders.
“We are pleased to celebrate this milestone and look for continued investments from the federal government for infrastructure projects to ensure that all First Nations in NAN [Nishnawbe Aski Nation] territory have access to safe drinking water,” said Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) grand chief Alvin Fiddler. NAN represents 49 First Nations communities in northern Ontario.
— NishnawbeAski Nation (@NANComms) March 6, 2018
There are currently 81 long-term advisories on public drinking water systems on reserve. The federal government says it has plans to end all advisories by 2021.
The 2016 budget allocated $1.8 billion over five years to improve on-reserve water and wastewater infrastructure, in addition to $141.7 million over five years for monitoring and testing of drinking water.
The 2018 budget proposes an additional $172.6 million over three years to expedite removal of drinking water advisories, aiming to advance the end date by one year to 2020.