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Liberals face funding gap on First Nations water promise: PBO

Liberals face funding gap on First Nations water promise: PBO
From CBC - December 7, 2017

The Liberal government is spending only 70 per cent, at most, of what's needed to fulfil its promise to end boil water advisories on First Nations Reserves within five years, according to a new report from the Parliamentary budget officer.

Thursday's report says Ottawa will need to invest a minimum of $3.2 billion in capital investment to bring First Nations water systems up to the standards of comparable non-Indigenous communities in order to eliminate boil-water advisories by 2020.

It estimates it will take $1.8 billion to estimate the drinking water systems and another $1.4 billion will be needed for wastewater treatment, with an annual operating and maintenance costs of $361 million. Of that, $218 million would be for drinking water alone.

Their analysis says historical spending combined with the nearly $2 billion earmarked still leaves a funding gap. Researchers ran various scenarios using those investments and found funding only covers between 50 and 70 per cent of the total investments needed.

"The recommended capital and operations and maintenance costs are considerably more than the actual and planned funding for First Nations water and wastewater infrastructure," reads the report. .

So far, the number of long-term advisories on systems supported by Indigenous Affairs has dropped by just seven from 77 to 70 as of the end of July.

'Red flags'

The PBO report comes after a request from TimminsJames Bay MP Charlie Angus.

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