Saturday, April 21, 2012

Library of Parliament Legislative Summary of Bill S-8: The Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act

The Library of Parliament last month released a legislative summary of Bill S-8: The Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act:
"Bill S-8 is the second legislative initiative to address safe drinking water on reserves. Its predecessor, Bill S-11, was introduced in the Senate on 26 May  2010, and it was referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples for examination on 14 December 2010. From 2 February to 9 March  2011, the committee held nine meetings on the proposed legislation. As a result of widespread concerns about the bill, the legislation did not proceed to third reading, in order to allow for further discussions between government officials and First Nations representatives on proposed changes. Bill S-11 subsequently died on the Order Paper when Parliament was dissolved on 26 March 2011."
"While Bill S-8 retains several of the features of former Bill S-11, particularly in areas to be covered by eventual federal regulations, the proposed legislation would address the application of those regulations as they relate to, among other things, source water; the liability of First Nations for non–band-owned water systems; the application to self-governing First Nations; and agreements with, and powers of, third parties. Non-derogation language is also included in the proposed legislation. Key differences between bills S-8 and S-11 are identified more precisely in section 2, Description and Analysis, in this document."
"The delivery of safe drinking water to on-reserve First Nations communities is critical to the health and safety of the communities’ residents. Access to safe, clean, potable water is also closely tied to the economic viability of individual communities. For more than a decade, research has indicated that many First Nations communities lack adequate access to safe drinking water. A 2001–2002 assessment found that the quality of almost three quarters of drinking water systems in First Nations’ communities were at significant risk. In recent years, with the intention of addressing on-reserve water quality issues, the federal government has implemented a number of initiatives, including plans to bring forward water standards legislation to fill the existing regulatory gap governing the provision of drinking water on reserves. Progress reports suggest that, since 2006, there has been a steady reduction in the number of high-risk community water systems and priority communities."
It is possible to follow the progress of the bill through the federal Parliament on the LEGISinfo website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:36 pm


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