Freshwater Policy
Measures whether each province and territory, as well as the federal government, has a public policy on freshwater that is less than ten years old.

Overview

Good freshwater policy sets the government’s vision and direction for proactive measure for the assurance of healthy water. British Columbia’s Living Water Smart policy, while out of date now, is a good example of a visionary document that supported many proactive changes in the province, including the creation of the new Water Sustainability Act which replaced the previous water legislation that was a hundred years old.

Across Canada, freshwater policies take various forms and range in age. Some jurisdictions have policy documents that are quite out-dated (as is Canada’s Federal Water Policy of 1987) while others are actively renewing and updating policy documents (such as in Quebec and the newly released strategy in New Brunswick). Some jurisdictions, such as Ontario, have freshwater policies for areas within the province, such as the Great Lakes Strategy, but do not have a province-wide freshwater policy.

Jurisdiction Policy within last 10 Years? Name of Policy
Federal No 1987 Federal Water Policy
British Columbia No 2008 Living Water Smart - British Columbia's Water Plan
Alberta No 2008 Water for Life Renewal
Saskatchewan Yes 2012 Water Security Plan
Manitoba No 2003 Manitoba Water Strategy
Ontario No n/a
Québec No 2002 National Water Policy
New Brunswick Yes 2018 Water Strategy for New Brunswick
Nova Scotia Yes 2015 Water Resources Management Strategy
Prince Edward Island Yes 2015 Watershed Strategy
Newfoundland and Labrador No n/a
Yukon Yes 2014 Water for Nature, Water for People: Yukon Water Strategy and Action Plan
Northwest Territories Yes 2010 Northern Voices, Northern Waters: NWT Water Stewardship Strategy
Nunavut No n/a

It’s important that freshwater policies be renewed regularly, whether reviewed and tweaked or completely overhauled, depending on the context. As policies age, information within them becomes outdated, issues change, and actions promised can get completed or become irrelevant. New policies, ideally, create new commitments based on updated data and knowledge to ensure freshwater sustainability now and into the future.

5-Year target: Our target is to complete further analysis of the different policies to assess whether they are adequately sustainability-focused. In addition, we will work with the network to encourage all expiring or non-existent policies to be renewed/created. In five years, our target is for at least 10 of the jurisdictions to have a public policy on freshwater that is less than ten years old.

Last updated January 2018

Note: The data presented here represents our best research given the time and resources at hand. We acknowledge there may be errors. This shared measurement system belongs to all members of the Our Living Water Network, so if you have any corrections for us, or ideas to share on this measure, please send us an email at info@ourlivingwaters.ca.

Freshwater Policy|Measures whether each province and territory, as well as the federal government, has a public policy o
Freshwater Policy|Measures whether each province and territory, as well as the federal government, has a public policy on freshwater that is less than ten years old.
Imagine a Canada where all waters are in good health: