Is the water safe to drink? A common question for Canadians travelling to different countries, but not one that comes up too much when they visit different provinces. In light of a newly released national drinking water report card, however, it may be something to keep in mind.
Waterproof 3, the third report from environmental advocacy group Ecojustice to evaluate water policies, programs and legislation across Canada, gives each province and territory, along with the federal government, a letter grade based on how well they're protecting drinking water. As the title suggests, this is the third such report; the first was released in 2001, the second in 2006.
And so who is at the head of the class when it comes to drinking water? Ontario earned the only A grade in the country, with Nova Scotia close behind with an A-minus. Nunavut and Yukon find themselves at the other extreme, with marks of D and D-plus, respectively.
Coming in last is the federal government of Canada, with a big F. The report cites a poor record when it comes to managing water in First Nations communities, cuts to Environment Canada's monitoring capacity, and an insistence that municipalities engage in public-private partnerships in order to access water improvement funds.
Another surprise? Alberta comes in with a C-minus, dropping from a B in 2006. According to the Calgary Herald, report author Randy Christensen says that Alberta's grade "reflects the assessment we gave to source water protection, that is, keeping the water free from contaminants in the first place."
More specifically, Christensen said the result stems from the fact that Alberta makes the "deliberate choice not to undertake activities to protect drinking water when they might impinge upon resource development."