First Nations Drinking Water (B)

Motion: That the House call on the Government of Canada to address on an urgent basis the needs of those First Nations communities whose members have no access to clean, running water in their homes; that action to address this disparity begin no later than spring 2012; and that the House further recognize that the absence of this basic requirement represents a continuing affront to our sense of justice and fairness as Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member for Etobicoke North a question that has not been put forward today.

Does she think that part of the problem is that we do not regulate safe drinking water for Canadians? All of our drinking water standards are guidelines, so when the federal government fails to provide safe drinking water it is not breaking any law.

Similarly, when the Newfoundland government hid from Newfoundland and Labrador residents that trihalomethane, a cancer-causing substance, had contaminated local drinking water, it was not breaking any law.

Do we need to take a different look at the way Canada regulates drinking water overall, without taking anything away from the fact that the worst situation is in first nations communities?

Ms. Kirsty Duncan: Mr. Speaker, it is time for the government to implement a comprehensive national water strategy as well as upgrade our national drinking water standards.

As part of that national water strategy, I see the urgent need for infrastructure investment, committed federal funding for municipalities and first nations communities to upgrade public water utilities, protection and preservation of water for all forms of life and future generations as well as federal backstop legislation to keep water in its basin and effectively ban bulk water exports.