OTTAWA – The focus of this year’s World Water Day is the value of water. With more than two million lakes and rivers, Canada has the third largest supply of annual renewable fresh water in the world. And while much of that water drains north into the Arctic Ocean and Hudson Bay, there is still plenty for those living along the country’s southern border.
“Access to clean, fresh water is something that many of us take for granted; we turn on the tap and out it flows,” said Green Party Leader Annamie Paul. “And yet not everyone in Canada has that luxury. Forty First Nations communities still do not have access to potable water. In a country as wealthy as Canada this is unconscionable.”
The latest report from Auditor General Karen Hogan, Access to Safe Drinking Water in First Nations, determined that Indigenous Services Canada did not meet its commitment to eliminate long-term drinking water advisories.
“Too often extractive industries threaten water resources, and companies rush environmental assessments through without proper consultation with Indigenous and local stakeholders,” said Ms. Paul. “In northern Ontario, Indigenous and environmental organizations are calling on the provincial and federal governments to impose a moratorium in the Ring of Fire region, until a proper impact assessment can be carried out. The region’s wetlands include significant peatlands, which act as an important carbon sink; if disturbed, this sensitive ecosystem could actually become a carbon emitter. Ensuring that Indigenous and local communities are involved in the decision-making process from the start on such initiatives would prevent these kinds of environmentally damaging situations from occurring.
"Hydraulic fracturing or fracking threatens groundwater quality as well as contributing to carbon emissions. The Green Party supports a ban on fracking as well as an end to the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline which, if completed, would potentially cross and threaten hundreds of watersheds in Alberta and British Columbia. The party also called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies which continue to fund projects like Trans Mountain, Coastal Gaslink and other liquified natural gas (LNG) projects. The climate crisis is exacerbating water issues everywhere – more droughts, flooding and severe storms.
“Water equity is fundamental to the eradication of hunger, poverty and disease,” said Ms. Paul. “As human populations grapple with the increased challenges of population growth, growing urbanisation and the climate crisis, it will be crucial for all of us to acknowledge the immeasurable value of water and collaborate to improve access to clean water everywhere.”
In 2018, the United Nations launched the Water Action decade as a component of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 17 SDGs are integral to Green Party policy.
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