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OTTAWA, ON - March 22, 2010 – Every day, 2 million tons of sewage and industrial waste are dumped into waterways around the world, while one child under five dies every 20 seconds from water-related diseases, according to a United Nation report released on the 17th annual World Water Day. The UN designated March 22 of each year to raising awareness of the water challenges facing the planet.

Bruce Hyer, New Democrat Water Critic, said “World Water Day highlights the precarious state of our most valuable resource. Today, 850 million people worldwide don’t have access to safe drinking water around the world; many of those are Canadians. There are 115 First Nations communities across Canada under Drinking Water Advisories currently. In too many cases, they have suffered the effects of polluted and unsafe water for years. This is a national disgrace.”

Hyer continued, “In 2006, the Harper government announced intentions to improve drinking water quality for First Nations. It’s now 2010 and Canadians are still waiting for federal government legislation to ensure safe drinking water in First Nations communities. Adequate funding must accompany any legislation. The government cannot simply try to download responsibility of providing safe drinking water on reserves to Chiefs and councils, without making sure they have the resources necessary to accomplish the task.”

Linda Duncan, New Democrat Critic for the Environment added, “Canadians are understandably concerned about contamination of our dwindling fresh water resources. I call on the federal government to respond to this concern by tabling the long-awaited Aboriginal safe drinking water law and to assert their powers to address the threats to the Peace-Athabasca water basin by the oil sands development.”

A December 2009 report found pollution levels in the Athabasca River have increased dramatically as a direct result of oil sands operations.

 

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