Ottawa is lifting drinking water advisories on First Nations reserves. So why do they keep coming back? – Regina Leader-Post

‘Most of the stuff that are put into play are band-aid solutions. You just keep on going through the same cycle. And that goes on year after year after year after year’

OTTAWA — It seemed like a major milestone. On a Tuesday last March, then-Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott arrived in Slate Falls First Nation in northwestern Ontario for the grand opening of the community’s new water treatment plant.

It was a big deal for the community and for the federal government, which has promised to eliminate all long-term drinking water advisories on First Nation reserves by March 2021. The roughly 200 residents of Slate Falls had been under a boil-water advisory since 2004. Before the new plant was built, they’d gotten their water from 11 separate pump houses, each under its own advisory. With the opening of the new plant, the government had lifted all 11 advisories — the biggest single leap forward since the Liberal government began work on its commitment in 2015.

“Today is a big day to make changes to our lifestyle and we are very excited to finally be able to drink water right from the tap,” Chief Lorraine Crane said that day in a statement.

There was just one problem. Seventeen days later, Slate Falls was back under a drinking water advisory. Though it lasted less than three weeks, it wouldn’t be the only one of its kind. Today, Slate Falls is under a new drinking water advisory that’s been in place since Aug. 29.

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