Concerned Canadians gather to ask their government to better protect the country’s water supply by enforcing stricter standards.
Public advocacy groups in Canada have called on the Canadian government to declare water “a human right and a public trust,” and work harder to protect the dwindling resource.
The declaration came out of this weekend’s Blue Summit, a national conference on water issues held in Ottawa and hosted by the Council of Canadians and CUPE. The statement calls on the government to establish a national water policy “that recognizes water as a human right and a public trust; safeguards water resources from industrial abuse; and guarantees adequate funding for water services, watershed planning and management and the necessary science to protect water quantity and quality.”
“Our elected leaders manage water resources on our behalf as a public trust,” said Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians National Chairperson. “But although our country has abundant natural resources, Canada is actually facing freshwater shortages. It’s clear that we need more than talk—we need a concrete commitment from governments that our water will be protected for future generations.”
“Water is a public resource, not an economic commodity,” CUPE National President Paul Moist added. “Our right to access drinkable water and quality sewage treatment shouldn’t be neglected by governments, and our water resources and services must not be sacrificed for private profits.”
The declaration also calls on federal, provincial and municipal governments to:
- Recognize the water rights of Aboriginal communities and work with First Nations to end a water and sanitation crisis on reservations;
Ensure public ownership, operation and delivery of water and sanitation services through a federal water infrastructure fund;
- Establish enforceable drinking water standards across Canada;
- Protect water from global market exploitation by excluding it from the North American Free Trade Agreement and all future trade agreements; and
- Map and protect groundwater resources by declaring them a public trust.
Twelve national organizations have also announced their support for the statement, with more expected to follow.
Read More: The Blue Summit declaration