Canada's New Government marks World Water Day reports on progress to improve water quality on reserve; launches water kit for First Nations children



    OTTAWA, March 22 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of
Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and
Non-Status Indians, today on World Water Day tabled a report in Parliament
that details the improvements that have been made over the past 12 months on
water quality on reserve.
    A year ago, Minister Prentice announced a Plan of Action to ensure that
all First Nations communities have access to clean, safe drinking water.
    "We have made substantial progress during the past year," he said. "We
have addressed the most pressing issues in communities. In the last 12 months
the number of high risk water systems in First Nations communities has been
reduced from 193 to 97.
    "Last year we also identified 21 priority communities. Today I am pleased
to report that in seven of the 21 communities, the water problems have been
addressed. They are no longer on that list."
    A 24-hour hotline and emergency support system has been put in place and,
as announced this week in Federal Budget 2007, the Minister said, "We are
committed to putting a tough regulatory regime in place on reserves, including
new standards."
    Today, Health Minister Tony Clement unveiled a school activity kit
developed especially for First Nations teachers and children, along with his
colleagues, Minister Prentice and the Honourable John Baird, Minister of the
Environment.
    "Canada has the third-largest supply of fresh water in the world and
through initiatives like the Water is a Treasure tool kit, this Government is
taking action to improve the water Canadians drink," said Minister Baird. "In
Budget 2007, Canada's New Government committed $93 million over the next two
years to a National Water Strategy to clean up polluted waters, help maintain
water levels in the Great Lakes and protect our ecosystem."
    "I am pleased to support such a wonderful initiative through which
teachers and Environmental Health Officers can play a key role in educating
children on how important it is to their health to keep water safe and clean,"
said Minister Clement. "Water is vital and Canada's New Government is
committed to working with First Nations to protect it."
    The school kit was developed by INAC, Health Canada and Environment
Canada in consultation with the Assembly of First Nations, and is now being
sent to First Nations schools and schools where more than 20 per cent of the
student population is First Nation. It is also being sent to 42 Band Councils
north of 60 degrees (in Yukon and N.W.T.), and to the three territorial
Departments of Education.
    The activity school kit contains a teacher's guide, poster, CD, and a
series of activities that teachers can use with children from Kindergarten to
Grade 6. It is available on-line at: www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/KS/index_e.html .




For further information:

For further information: Indian and Northern Affairs Canada; Minister's
Office: Deirdra McCracken, Office of the Honourable Jim Prentice, (819)
997-0002; Media Relations Unit: (819) 953-1160; Health Canada: Carole Saindon,
Media Relations, (613) 957-1588; Environnent Canada: Media Relations, (819)
934-8008, 1-888-908-8008; This news release is available at
http://www.inac.gc.ca

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Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

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FEDERAL BUDGET REACTION 2007

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