Bad water: Northern Ontario First Nations push for a fix
70 First Nations in northern Ontario have had a boil water advisory at some time in the last decade
The majority of First Nations in northern Ontario has experienced a boil water advisory in the last decade, a CBC News investigation revealed.
The longest running water advisory is Neskantaga First Nation in Ontario, where residents have been boiling their water for 20 years. Ten other First Nations in northern Ontario have spent more than 10 years without safe drinking water.
Many chiefs are saying they cannot wait any longer for the problems to be fixed.
"We need a commitment, we need action that's going to allow this issue to be resolved, so our people can enjoy getting water from their taps in their homes. That's what we're asking it's a basic human right," Neskantaga Chief Wayne Moonias told CBC News on Wednesday.
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Moonias was part of a news conference highlighting the responses chiefs from nine First Nations had received to a survey of federal election candidates. The chiefs wanted to know where politicians stand on issues such as safe drinking water.
"Twenty years under a boil water advisory "is not a good record for Neskantaga to be recognized by... and it's because of the lack of action that has been made by the government to try to address these issues to work with us," Moonias said.
"How long are we going to wait for this thing to be resolved?" he asked. "We heard one party say five years. That's too long. It needs to be fixed immediately."
The chief of Marten Falls First Nation also blames a "lack of commitment" for a boil water advisory in place since 2006 in his community.
Bruce Achneepineskum said in that time the government has spent more than two million dollars on bottled water for community members, about half the price of a new water treatment plant, he said.
"We're talking about people that live on the edge of poverty and it's really hard for them" to have to travel several kilometres to the airport and haul bottled water back home, Achneepineskum said.
Bad water: 'Third World' conditions on First Nations in Canada <a href="http://t.co/3EGRgsYzX6">http://t.co/3EGRgsYzX6</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cbcmb?src=hash">#cbcmb</a> <a href="http://t.co/xdHEfA5n8C">pic.twitter.com/xdHEfA5n8C</a>—@CBCManitoba
The Nishnawbe Aski Nation said 35 of its 49 member communities do not currently have safe drinking water.
"It's abysmal, it's awful, not right, and just shows the poor state of our communities due to the neglect of our treaty partners, the federal and provincial government," Nishnawbe Aski Nation deputy grand chief Terry Waboose said.
Waboose said an annual government investment in water and sewage infrastructure, rather than the current piecemeal funding model would improve the situation.