I live in a small community with community wells. The operation is done by a volunteer group that struggles to meet the cost of operation. Two of our wells are on a boil water order. There are high levels of manganese in these wells that make the water not usable for infants. We are currently part of a pilot project to have at least one of these wells fitted with filtration for this mineral’s removal.
—Mary Anderson, PSAC Atlantic member
There are numerous long term boil orders in Newfoundland and Labrador. The town of Branch, NL has a boil order in effect since 1989, Brent’s Cove NL since 1991.
—PSAC Atlantic member
Spring boil water advisories affect all the water in our house and with a young baby, we need to buy drinking water to survive. This has a mental and physical toll on our whole family.
—PSAC North member
In Iqaluit we had a major water contamination issue. The population size has increased over the past 20 years, and we have been at serious risk of running out of water for about 5 years. The infrastructure is in regular need of repairs and there appears to be major expertise, competence and governance issues with addressing the problems. This is where I live and work.
—PSAC North member
Recently we had our clean water access interrupted for three days while my small grandchildren were visiting. We were given clean water to use and needed to walk halfway up the street to fetch water to use daily. It is a disgrace that more people have the luxury of washing their car with clean water than those who can safely consume and use safe drinking water.
—PSAC Prairies member
There’s been a boil water advisory for the past four months in my town. I would have to drive for 10 minutes twice a week to get free drinking water. So, I prefer to buy two 18-litre bottles a week for $5 at the convenience store, two minutes from my house.
—PSAC Quebec member
There’s lead in the water, which the city has known about for three years. Our own plumbing is new, but the city must change its own pipes. They provided us with filters for one year, but for the past year we’ve had to pay for our own.
—PSAC Quebec member
We’ve had to boil water for cooking, washing food and drinking since December 2021, if I remember correctly. We have two small children. It’s very frustrating that we’re paying taxes for a service we’re not getting… and on top of that, the taxes are going up. It’s even more annoying that it’s called water service, not drinking water service. They’re playing with words. My fear is that if we fight for this, the municipality will levy another tax for drinking water, so we’ll end up with two taxes instead of one.
—Dan Charland, PSAC-UTE member
12 years ago Canada recognized the UN declaration on the human right to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. But there's still no legislation here on water as a human right.
In 2021, the federal government spent: $18 Billion on fossil fuel subsidies vs $1 Billion on providing clean water to communities
86% of Grassy Narrows residents currently get no compensation for the ongoing mercury crisis
$138 Million is the annual deficit identified in 2021 by the Parliamentary Budget Office on water infrastructure and operations & management (O&M)
There are at least 59 drinking water advisories in communities across the country.
These are public health announcements that let people know that tap water could be contaminated or unsafe.
According to Health Canada, any drinking advisory over 1 year is counted as a “long-term drinking water advisory” while those under 12 months are short-term.
Health Canada issues three types of drinking water advisories:
The water is safe to drink and use after it has been brought to
a rolling boil for at least one minute.
The water should not be consumed even after boiling.
These advisories are issued when the water poses the greatest health risks, and any type of usage could cause contamination and irritation.
The federal government claims that it has resolved 143 long-term drinking water advisories, with 28 left to go. But the full scope of the actual lack of access to clean water in this country is much more dire: