We’re very fortunate in Saint Boniface – Saint Vital to be surrounded by beautiful natural spaces, especially along the Red and Seine Rivers. And it is incredibly important to ensure their protection and continued health.
One of the measures our government has taken to protect our waterways is to create the federal Clean Water and Wastewater Fund (CWWF), which helps eliminate harmful products from reaching and polluting our rivers and streams. In Saint Boniface – Saint Vital, over $2 million is being invested in necessary water main upgrades. This is part of more than $94 million in federal funding that is flowing into our province to provide communities with more reliable water and wastewater systems.
Programs like CWWF complement other investments that will help our environment. Last July, Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna announced an investment of $25.7 million in the Lake Winnipeg Basin Program, which will support projects and research to help protect our lake. We all know the many challenges facing our lake and it is critical that we work together – federal/provincial/municipal governments, Indigenous nations, stakeholders, and researchers – to ensure that every effort is put into saving Lake Winnipeg.
When speaking of clean water, my thoughts also turn to the Indigenous nations who currently do not have access to clean drinking water. It is unacceptable and has been going on far too long.
Since November 2015, 87 long-term drinking water advisories (LTDWA) have been lifted from public systems on reserve. Work is underway to end the remaining 56 long-term advisories and prevent further short-term advisories from becoming long-term. In Manitoba, 9 of 11 LTWDAs have been lifted.
I’ve been asked why they haven’t all been lifted yet. Some of the systems need to be completely rebuilt, which requires new plans and lengthier construction. I’m happy to say that, in Manitoba, the two remaining LTWDAs are currently in the construction stage.
The plight of Shoal Lake 40 First Nation has been particularly felt here in Winnipeg, and many residents of Saint Boniface – Saint Vital have written or spoken to me about it. Now that Freedom Road has been built – with the Government of Canada contributing $20 million, half of the project cost, in 2016 – the community can now begin construction of a water treatment plant, ending a 100-year-old injustice.
We count on water for so many reasons: to drink, to bathe, for recreation and for employment. It is important that we all work together to ensure the continued health and protection of our waterways.