ontario news watch

Federal government reaches nearly $8B deal with First Nations on drinking water suit

OTTAWA — The federal government has reached a nearly $8-billion settlement with multiple First Nations who launched class-action lawsuits over the lack of clean, safe drinking water in their communities.

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller, alongside the Tataskweyak Cree Nation, Curve Lake First Nation and Neskantaga First Nation, announced today that they have reached an “historic” agreement in principle.

Miller says the agreement includes $1.5 billion in compensation for people who were deprived of clean drinking water, the creation of a $400 million First Nation economic and cultural restoration fund and at least $6 billion to support reliable access to safe drinking water on reserve.

The agreement also includes a renewed commitment to Canada’s action plan for the lifting of all long-term drinking water advisories, support for First Nations to develop their own safe drinking water bylaws and initiatives, and planned modernization of First Nations drinking water legislation.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised in 2015 to lift all drinking water advisories by this March, but Miller acknowledged last December that the government would not meet that goal. 

Miller says as of today, First Nations with support of Indigenous Services Canada have lifted 108 long-term drinking water advisories since November 2015.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 30, 2021.

The Canadian Press