It’s important to be transparent that this Shared Measurement System was designed from a non-Indigenous worldview and we recognize that Indigenous ways of knowing are absent from it. For more information on this positioning, see our Right Relations page.
Drinking water is the most personal way each of us interacts with water on a daily basis. We can’t live without it. Our access to safe drinking water is a vital measure of water health. The Drinking Water Advisories impact measure presents a snapshot of drinking water advisories (DWAs) in Canada.
A total of 978 DWAs were active in Canada on November 11, 2021. This is a 13% decrease from June 2017 when this indicator was first published. The majority of active advisories on November 11, 2021 were found in British Columbia (25% of the total). Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba all had more than 10% of total advisories. The remaining provinces/territories contributed relatively few to the total; of note, the three northern territories combined had only 6 DWAs. In terms of duration, 92% of the DWAs had been active for a month or more and 52% had been active for a year or more.
The quality of drinking water in Indigenous communities has long been a source of concern in Canada. The Government of Canada has committed to ending all “long-term” (older than one-year) DWAs in First Nations communities south of the 60th parallel. This commitment was originally made in 2015, with March 31, 2021 set as the target date by which all long-term advisories affecting First Nations communities were to be lifted. In spite of the lifting of 119 long-term advisories since November 2015, the Government of Canada reported that 43 long-term advisories affecting 31 communities (mostly in Ontario) remained in place for First Nations communities as of October 2021. No new date has been set for the removal of the remaining long-term First Nations advisories.
The previous version of the Drinking Water Advisories impact measure listed 108 DWAs related to Indigenous communities. This suggests that DWAs in general have declined more (13%) than DWAs affecting Indigenous communities (8%). This is despite the Government of Canada’s commitment to end long-term DWAs in First Nations communities. Of course, it is difficult to determine trends based on just two points in time, since DWAs come and go in response to a variety of influences.
Last updated January 2022