Hajdu hopes long-term boil water advisories will be lifted by 2025 and the end of the Liberal-NDP deal


Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu hopes Canada will be able to lift its last long-term drinking water advisories by 2025 – the year an agreement between the NDP and the Liberal government is due to expire .

Hajdu has refused to set a firm deadline for the hiring since taking office last fall, saying the task poses many technical challenges.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, when he was first elected in 2015, promised to end all long-term drinking water advisories for First Nations by March 2021. His government does not missed this deadline.

Recently, Trudeau secured what appears to be an easier path for his minority Liberal government to accomplish some of its shared priorities with the federal New Democrats by striking a deal with the party that would keep him in power until 2025.

By then, Trudeau, who is in his third term, will have served as prime minister for a decade. When asked directly if the remaining 34 long-term boil water advisories could be removed by that date, Hajdu replied, “I hope so.”

“Look, I hope so. This was a pledge the Prime Minister made in 2015. I know people were disappointed that we couldn’t lift them all, and I was disappointed too,” he said. she said in a recent interview with The Canadian Press.

“I hope we can do it before 2025. Realistically, I would like everyone to have clean water tomorrow.”

Lack of access to safe drinking water on reserves has marred Canada’s already strained relationship with Indigenous peoples.

Ensuring that every First Nation has access to clean tap water is seen as a crucial part of achieving reconciliation.

While this step remains unfinished, another has been completed thousands of miles away.

About 200 Indigenous delegates who traveled to Rome heard Pope Francis apologize on Friday for the conduct of some members of the Roman Catholic Church in Canada’s residential school system, where thousands of Indigenous children were removed from their families and suffered abuse.

Ottawa was not involved in the delegation’s request, Hajdu said Thursday. But she had tears in her eyes as she described hearing Chief Willie Littlechild, a delegate and residential school survivor, speak in Rome.

“I am always moved when I think of the experiences of so many Aboriginal people. It’s really, really hard to believe the burden of pain families have carried.”

Regarding the elimination of long-term drinking water advisories, Hajdu says she has a plan to contact all the chiefs of the 34 communities that are the subject of such an advisory, adding that each has a plan. of work.

She added that Ottawa now covers all maintenance and operating costs.

“It’s not a question of money,” she says, but rather a question of logistics that varies depending on the remoteness of a community and its infrastructure, which can slow down the work.

First Nations housing

First Nations housing also remains an issue. One of the priorities listed in the new Liberal-NDP agreement is β€œto make a significant additional investment in Indigenous housing in 2022.”

The Assembly of First Nations had urged chiefs to lobby Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to include $60 billion in her next budget, of which $44 billion would be used to meet current housing, including overcrowding and repairs.

The national defense organization says an additional $16 billion is needed to cope with population growth.

The AFN estimates that 60% of First Nations housing is in need of repair and that 30% is owned by multiple generations of the same family.

Hajdu did not disclose what she is asking for from the housing budget.

She said, however, that the government remains committed to closing the infrastructure gap for First Nations by 2030, including through affordable housing.

One of the complicating factors, the minister added, is that some communities in need of housing do not have the necessary land for construction, which takes time to acquire.

“When I talk about housing with First Nations communities, it’s not just the amount of housing, it’s also the ability to build new housing.”