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March 30, 2016

Keewaytinook Okimakanak applauds federal government investments to end boil water advisories

Funding commitments align with areas of critical need, Chiefs say

Dryden, ON – Keewaytinook Okimakanak supports the Government of Canada’s financial commitments contained in Budget 2016 to eliminate boil water advisories in First Nations communities. The Tribal Council’s Chiefs, who are delivering clean drinking water to their communities through the innovative Safe Water Project, believe these commitments are in line with what they have experienced to be the areas of greatest need.

“Our experience has shown that building new infrastructure alone will not end boil water advisories,” said Geordi Kakepetum, chief executive director of Keewaytinook Okimakanak. “Other elements must be in place to support both new and existing infrastructure, such as providing training and operational support to water plant operators, and monitoring water on a continuous basis. Keewaytinook Okimakanak has combined these three elements into the Safe Water Project with great success, and we were pleased that the government sees the benefit of these initiatives as well.”

The Safe Water Project was developed by the Chiefs of Keewaytinook Okimakanak in response to the water challenges faced by their own communities. By providing training and support to local water operators, as well as installing monitoring technology at water facilities, the Project has eliminated boil water advisories in three First Nations communities since May 2015. Keewaytinook Okimakanak is working collaboratively with other communities to ensure First Nations have access to safe, clean drinking water.

In 2015, the Government of Canada committed to ending boil water advisories in First Nations communities within five years. The federal budget tabled last week proposed investing $1.8 billion to build and maintain First Nations water infrastructure, $141.7 million to improve on-reserve water monitoring, and $15 million to launch a pilot employment training program geared towards First Nations community needs, including water.

According to the most recent data provided by Health Canada and the First Nations Health Authority, there are currently approximately 161 drinking water advisories in 109 First Nations communities across the country.

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