Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act

An Act respecting the safety of drinking water on First Nation lands

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment addresses health and safety issues on reserve lands and certain other lands by providing for regulations to govern drinking water and waste water treatment in First Nations communities. Regulations could be made on a province-by-province basis to mirror existing provincial regulatory regimes, with adaptations to address the circumstances of First Nations living on those lands.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

  • June 10, 2013 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
  • June 6, 2013 Passed That, in relation to Bill S-8, An Act respecting the safety of drinking water on First Nation lands, not more than five further hours shall be allotted to the consideration of the third reading stage of the Bill; and that, at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration of the third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.
  • June 4, 2013 Passed That Bill S-8, An Act respecting the safety of drinking water on First Nation lands, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments].
  • May 8, 2013 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
  • May 8, 2013 Passed That this question be now put.
  • May 8, 2013 Passed That, in relation to Bill S-8, An Act respecting the safety of drinking water on First Nation lands, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act
Government Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I can appreciate the leader of the official opposition on the front bench was a little confused. My understanding of the rules is that a person can only vote once. We saw members of the NDP from the front bench initially support the bill. I believe they should have to withdraw their original vote.

If we think of the ramifications of allowing members to stand and not denounce their first vote, it could lead us into further complications going forward.

Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act
Government Orders

June 10th, 2013 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, I do not mean to challenge you, but there are many bills for which I would like to vote on both sides when I go home and tell my voters that I voted with them.

However, the fact is that it is very unclear. Mr. Speaker, you cannot allow members to vote one way and then appear to vote the other way without a correction. We typically expect that of members as we have in the past. The rules of the House have to apply to all of us equally.

I ask that they stand and record their votes properly, as my seatmate had to some time ago.

Bill S-8—Time Allocation Motion
Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act
Government Orders

June 6th, 2013 / 10:25 a.m.
See context

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved:

That, in relation to Bill S-8, An Act respecting the safety of drinking water on First Nation lands, not more than five further hours shall be allotted to the consideration of the third reading stage of the bill; and

that, at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration of the third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Bill S-8—Time Allocation Motion
Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act
Government Orders

June 6th, 2013 / 10:30 a.m.
See context

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is a sad moment in the history of this country and the Conservative government has a sorry record. In fact, it has broken a record by moving more than 40 time allocation motions in order to shut down debate and democracy. We on this side of the House think that Canadians deserve better. They deserve a government that listens.

We heard from one Conservative member of Parliament yesterday, an ex-Conservative, who was willing to stand up for democracy and stand up for the Canadian House of Commons.

The member for Edmonton—St. Albert talked about the ministerial “opulence” of the Conservatives and the fact that the ministers are spending on their limousines and five-star hotels. He talked about the myriad spending scandals of the Conservatives as well. He said, and I quote, “...my constituents are gravely disappointed”, and “My constituents demand better”.

Canadians demand better than what we are seeing from this government.

He also said, referring to the Conservatives, and I quote: “...we have morphed into what we once mocked”. He was referring to the spending scandals of the Liberals and their tendency to use closure to shut down the House of Commons.

The member for Edmonton—St. Albert also said, and this is probably the saddest thing for those who voted Conservative in the last election, “I no longer recognize...the party that I joined”.

This is how the Conservatives lead: shutting down democracy, and refusing accountability and transparency. Canadians deserve better.

How many Conservative MPs are going to stand up against this motion for closure and stand up for their constituents in the House of Commons?

Bill S-8—Time Allocation Motion
Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act
Government Orders

June 6th, 2013 / 10:30 a.m.
See context

Madawaska—Restigouche
New Brunswick

Conservative

Bernard Valcourt Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the member is not very much concerned about the substance of the subject matter of this motion.

The motion is about Bill S-8, safe drinking water for first nations. This bill is crucial to ensure that first nations have the same health and safety protections concerning drinking water and waste water treatment as are currently enjoyed by other Canadians.

It has taken seven years for us to get to this point. It has taken seven years of continuous dialogue with first nations, including formal engagement sessions and implementing measures to accommodate the concerns of first nations.

The proposed legislation before Parliament today is the result of hard work and collaboration. It is time to move forward.

Bill S-8—Time Allocation Motion
Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act
Government Orders

June 6th, 2013 / 10:30 a.m.
See context

NDP

Djaouida Sellah Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, a 2011 report by Indian Affairs and Northern Development clearly states that a significant financial commitment to infrastructure development will be necessary, and that it will cost $4.7 billion over 10 years to ensure the needs of first nation communities regarding water and waste water systems are met.

My question is for the minister. Why is the government refusing to invest in access to safe drinking water for first nation communities, despite the recommendations from its own group of experts?

Bill S-8—Time Allocation Motion
Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act
Government Orders

June 6th, 2013 / 10:35 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Bernard Valcourt Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, the member's claims are completely untrue and are not based on the facts.

If she looked at the facts, she would see that, as part of the strategy the government has adopted in this bill to fix the situation, nearly $3 billion has been allocated between 2006 and 2014 to improve infrastructure on first nations reserves.

Furthermore, more than $300 million was announced in budget 2012—and is being invested as we speak—to upgrade infrastructure on first nations reserves.

Bill S-8—Time Allocation Motion
Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act
Government Orders

June 6th, 2013 / 10:35 a.m.
See context

NDP

Dany Morin Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like my Conservative colleague to explain why his government insists on preventing us from speaking in the House of Commons and why he is in such a rush.

Canadians and members of Parliament, including the former Conservative member for Edmonton—St. Albert, want to be able to debate and want to see more transparency on the part of this government.

Why is this government not being more transparent with Canadians? That is what Canadians want to see.

Bill S-8—Time Allocation Motion
Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act
Government Orders

June 6th, 2013 / 10:35 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Bernard Valcourt Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, we know that members of the New Democratic Party like to spin their wheels and waste time by talking instead of acting.

This issue has been before Parliament in one form or another for seven years. First nations across the country are the only communities that do not have a regulatory system that sets standards for clean water and sewage treatment that are similar to standards in neighbouring communities.

I understand that the NDP does not want to take action, which is why the motion is before the House. This country needs legislation that will treat first nations members like other Canadian citizens who enjoy rights that those living on reserve do not.

Bill S-8—Time Allocation Motion
Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act
Government Orders

June 6th, 2013 / 10:35 a.m.
See context

NDP

Anne-Marie Day Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, it is sad to see that the government is cutting off debate by imposing a gag order reducing the time allocated to members.

For those of us who are not on committees, the House is often where hear about these bills. The same is true for our constituents.

I am aware that the minister was appointed to this position just a short while ago. Maybe he has not had the time to visit the aboriginal communities, which is perhaps unfortunate.

I know that these communities need drinking water and that they live in dry areas. Often, people have to collect drinking water from rocky places between other bodies of water. It is very difficult. It is essential to take a close look at this because the technologies must be good, otherwise there will be problems. It is important that the members have a chance to discuss this.

Will the minister reconsider his proposal to reduce the time for debate?

Bill S-8—Time Allocation Motion
Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act
Government Orders

June 6th, 2013 / 10:35 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Bernard Valcourt Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, not to disagree with the member, but we think enough time has been allocated to discuss and debate views and concerns about this bill.

The fact is that over 50 witnesses spoke on Bill S-11, the previous version, and on Bill S-8, the current version. Members heard from many organizations, including the Assembly of First Nations, the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs, the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, the Institute on Governance and the Indigenous Bar Association.

Bill S-8 was introduced only after many hours of discussion. There has been enough debate. It is time to act.

Bill S-8—Time Allocation Motion
Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act
Government Orders

June 6th, 2013 / 10:35 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Bev Shipley Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for all the work he has done. This is a great day for first nations, as we have a government that is wanting to and will move forward. Access to drinking water and the effective treatment of waste water is a critical protection for first nations people.

As mentioned by the minister, already over $3 billion in this budget and another over $330 million over two years is going toward helping sustain progress. It is not only for building but for renovating existing water and sewage treatment plant facilities on first nations reserves. We have to understand that this involves not only building them but training so that people are trained to operate these modern plants.

I wonder if the minister would help us understand how these targeted investments our government has made are going to help move forward the three-pronged approach to improving water and waste water systems on reserve.

Bill S-8—Time Allocation Motion
Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act
Government Orders

June 6th, 2013 / 10:40 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Bernard Valcourt Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, in response to the 2011 national assessment, our government worked with first nations to build a long-term plan to improve on-reserve water and waste water. This is founded on three pillars, as the hon. member referred to. We are talking about enhanced capacity building and operating training, infrastructure investment and enforceable standards and protocols. When we say enforceable standards and protocols, this is what this enabling legislation would allow. We cannot move seriously, effectively and efficiently in addressing this gap on reserves throughout Canada without the proper legislative framework that would put the regulations in place to protect first nations members.

I just cannot understand why the NDP and Liberals would oppose such a legislative framework. It is required and has been recommended by committee after committee. The first nations have called for it, yet they oppose it.

Bill S-8—Time Allocation Motion
Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act
Government Orders

June 6th, 2013 / 10:40 a.m.
See context

NDP

Paulina Ayala Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, we, the members on this side of the House, are against the fact that there is no debate and democracy is being weakened. We are against the fact that we are not given the opportunity to analyze things. That is why we are against this. We are against the fact that democracy is suffering, to the point where members on the other side of the House are getting fed up.

Does the minister think that we need to work together and restore a true, healthy democracy before criticizing everyone?

Bill S-8—Time Allocation Motion
Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act
Government Orders

June 6th, 2013 / 10:40 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Bernard Valcourt Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am always amazed to hear members of the New Democratic Party lamenting the lack of democracy in our great and beautiful country. I have a bit of experience in the House, and I had the privilege of seeing the Constitution repatriated. I have seen and I am seeing—every week and every month, in every community—peoples' representatives, elected by Canadians, who are living up to their responsibilities.

Here today, we have a mandate from Canadians. Improving the lives of first nations people is one of the objectives of that mandate. We know that there is a gap for first nations reserves in terms of the quality of drinking water and waste water treatment. Yet, when faced with a bill that all elected members are asked to vote on, they are voting no. We are asking them, urging them, to think for once about what is effective and best for the country, for first nations, and to vote in favour of this bill.