Ecojustice Blog – Healthy communities Posted on October 30, 2012 (updated: February 17, 2015)

Is there a constitutional right to safe drinking water?

Randy ChristensenLawyer

In recent months Ecojustice has been active on two important, and increasingly high profile, issues affecting Canada’s First Nations – access to safe drinking water and bigger issue of recognizing environmental quality that people rely on for survival as part of the fundamental human rights that should be afforded to all Canadians.
Those two problems have been brought together in a recent article by Dr. David Boyd, which highlights the reality facing thousands in Canada’s First Nations’ communities:

As of 2010, 49 First Nations communities have high-risk drinking water systems and more than 100 First Nations face ongoing boil water advisories (out of roughly 600 First Nations in Canada). Many of these deplorable situations have been dragging on for years and in some cases decades. The federal government estimates that there are approximately 5,000 homes in First Nations communities (representing an estimated 20,000+ residents) that lack basic water and sewage services. Compared to other Canadians, First Nations’ homes are 90 times more likely to be without running water.

The numbers are staggering, but just as notable are Canadians views on the same issue. In a poll released this week virtually all Canadians, 96% of those surveyed, stated they believe clean water should be guaranteed as a human right.

Canadians’ access to safe drinking water has always been one of Ecojustice’s top priorities, and continues to be a focus of our ongoing work. We’re currently researching and preparing our third drinking water report card, which is scheduled for release later in 2011.

The article No Taps, No Toilets: First Nations and the Constitutional Right to Water in Canada, was funded by The Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation and is available in full by emailing Dr. David Boyd.

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