The New Year is already looking bright for First Nation communities
- Kerry Benjoe | December 28, 2021
After two years of litigation, an $8-billion settlement agreement has been reached in the class action against Canada in relation to safe drinking water in First Nation communities.
On Wednesday, the Federal Court and the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba issued a joint decision approving the deal.
In November 2019, legal action was initiated against Canada in a proposed class action on behalf of all members of First Nations and members resident on reserves that had a drinking water advisory for at least one year since 1995.
The lead plaintiffs include the Manitoba Tataskweyak Cree Nation, Curve Lake First Nation and Neskantaga First Nation, both located in Ontario.
In July, the federal government released details of the historical agreement.
It includes a commitment of at least $6 billion to support reliable access to safe drinking water on reserve, $1.5 billion in compensation for individuals deprived of clean drinking water and the creation of a $400 million First Nation Economic and Cultural Restoration Fund. It also includes a renewed commitment to Canada’s Action Plan for the lifting of all long-term drinking water advisories, the creation of a First Nation Advisory Committee on Safe Drinking Water, support for First Nations to develop their own safe drinking bylaws and initiatives and the planned modernization of Canada’s First Nations drinking water legislation.
Since 2016, the Government of Canada has committed over $5.2 billion to First Nations to build and repair water and wastewater infrastructure and support effective management and maintenance of water systems on reserves.
According to Indigenous Services Canada, there are currently six long-term drinking water advisories in five First Nation communities in Saskatchewan including Little Pine, Ministikwan Lake Cree Nation, Peepeekisis Cree Nation No. 81, Okanese and Starblanket Cree Nation.
As required by law, the 60-day appeal period must lapse before any work can be started.
Check back for updates.