Kenora MP Eric Melillo says every Canadian citizen should have access to clean drinking water, and says he will push Ottawa on the issue after they’ve failed to address the crisis in communities across the country.
“It’s a huge issue. There’s been some great progress made, but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” Melillo recently said, during an interview.
Recently, community members in both Wauzhushk Onigum and Grassy Narrows First Nations have celebrated the ending of their long-term boil water advisories, through partnerships with the federal government, as well as the City of Kenora.
“The federal government has recently indicated that they may not be able to meet their commitment, and that’s unacceptable,” adds Melillo.
Indigenous Services Canada reports there are still 61 long-term drinking water advisories in effect, and the Kenora area has the largest concentration of these advisories across Canada.
The federal government’s goal of ending all long-standing advisories by March 2021 wasn’t mentioned in last month’s Throne Speech, though Indigenous Services still states that March is the target date.
“They’ve shown they can spend billions of dollars to address a crisis in short-notice during this pandemic, and there’s no excuse to not have clean drinking water available for every single person living in Canada. That is something we will push them on.”
Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa has continued to call on the provincial government to address these advisories, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The federal government is aware that no drinking water is certainly an issue for those who are fighting against COVID-19. Indigenous Services Canada’s COVID-19 information page recommends First Nation community members to:
“If you do not have access to running water, wash your hands in a large bowl and then throw out the water from the handwashing bowl after each individual use.”
Since COVID-19 is not known to spread through water, members can use water under a boil water advisory to wash your hands and for personal hygiene. But water under a do not use advisory is not suitable for any use, and hand sanitizer must be used instead.