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Updated: Jul 19, 2021

Open Letter to The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services

November 30, 2020


Red Deer – Mountain View, AB

The Canadian government has failed Indigenous Peoples for generations. There is no clearer example of this failure than the difficulties seen in eliminating Long-Term Drinking Water Advisories (DWAs) on First Nation Communities. This is not a Liberal or Conservative issue, it is a Canadian government issue.

When I spoke with Pam Damoff, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services, on June 9, 2020, she indicated that the government was committed to eliminating all DWAs by March 2021.

Additionally, she went on to state the following: “The Parliamentary budget officer estimates it will cost at least $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. The PBO report estimates the cost of updating drinking water systems at $1.8 billion, with another $1.4 billion needed for wastewater treatment and annual operating and maintenance costs of $361 million – $218 million of which would be for drinking water alone.”

Given the record levels of subsidy dollars flying out the doors of Rideau Cottage in 2020, I, and many others were disappointed to hear that many DWA targets would be missed. As we can see, failure to eliminate DWAs cannot be due to a lack of funding. $3.2 billion is a drop in the bucket.

Statistics Canada’s October 2020 Labour Force Survey indicated that there were 1.8 million unemployed Canadians. Among these unemployed individuals, surely there are more than enough engineers, contractors, project managers, and labourers available to complete these projects.

Based on the above, one can only conclude that a lack of will power and conviction are to blame.

Canada is a G7 nation. It is unacceptable that so many of our people are unable to access clean drinking water. On behalf of Canadians, I strongly urge the government to suspend all foreign aid programs until all DWAs have been eliminated on First Nation communities.


Jared Pilon

Candidate for Red Deer – Mountain View, AB

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