Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act (Bill S-8)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I read Bill S-8. I can see that the regulation-making powers are extensive but without action to ensure that there is capacity in first nations communities, and there have been some expressions of concern from first nations, to make sure that there is money to make this work.

I cannot see anything wrong with Bill S-8 now that the egregious section that suggested that the bill might abrogate first nations treaty rights has been fixed. I accept that it has been fixed.

I am wondering if the hon. member knows if there is a larger plan and a commitment to funding to make the skeletal regulatory authorities in this bill result in clean water.

Cheryl Gallant: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite mentioned capacity and the ability to ensure that the water is clean.

Under the circuit rider training program, first nations operators receive ongoing on-site training and mentoring on how to operate their drinking water and waste water systems. Since 2006, AANDC has increased funding from approximately $5 million per year to approximately $10 million per year to hire more circuit rider trainers to ensure that the services are available to all first nations communities. There are currently approximately 65 circuit rider trainers working in first nations communities across the country.

Since the results of the national assessment of first nations water and waste water systems was released in July 2011, the percentage of first nations systems that have primary operators certified to the level of drinking water systems has increased from 51% to 60%. That is for 463 out of 771 systems. The percentage of waste water systems that have primary operators certified to the level of waste water systems has also increased, from 42% of operators to 54%, which is 280 out of 519 systems.