Hundreds of Thousands of Canadians Don’t Have Access To Clean Water

Hundreds of Thousands of Canadians Don’t Have Access To Clean Water

Welcome to Canada! We’ve got almost a fifth of the world’s fresh water, yet many Canadian households don’t have access to it. The federal government considers it a minor issue, even boasting to international agencies that 100% of households in Canada have access to clean water. Sure, if you’re going by their official numbers that’s true, except their numbers are absolutely wrong. A fragmented system of regional notifications, has led to obfuscation of the true numbers. Data analysis we conducted of government clean water advisories marked “active”, show that the Federal government only counted 1 in 10 of these advisories. These are scattered through indigenous communities, as well as areas reporting to municipal governments.

The Canadian Government Only Monitors 10.7% of Advisories

The government’s numbers provided to international organizations and reality are far from the same. Officially, the Canadian government estimates that 82,400 people are without regular access to clean, and safe drinking water. As bad as that is, this number only includes 108 of the 1,001 active advisories we could find. This means less than 10.7% are being counted, and keep in mind we only found 1,001. Due to the fact that BC has no standard way of recording water issues, and there’s no data for the territories, this number is likely much higher.

Approximate Location of Active Water Advisories In Canada

Approximate location of water advisories that could be geocoded automatically. Source: Government of Canada, Provincial Governments, Municipal Records, Google Maps, and Better Dwelling.

BC Accounts For 84% of Total Advisories

It’s hard to fix what you don’t properly track, and this is painfully obvious when you look at clean water across Canada. Despite only having 13.5% of the population, BC had over 843 active advisories that could be found. The province accounts for 84.31% of all advisories we could find across Canada, which shows a remarkable lack of competence from the provincial government. Next in line was Ontario, with 91 (9%) of advisories. Followed by Saskatchewan, with 24 (2.3%) of advisories. One is too many, but the rest of country seems to be doing leaps and bounds better than BC.

Can BC please hand the keys to the legislature over to the next closest province? Date Source: Various municipalities, Government of Canada, and Better Dwelling Calculations.

How Bad Is This Water?

Sure water across Canada isn’t great. Cities like Toronto are pumping leaded water into hundreds of thousands of homes, and don’t even know which homes they’re doing it to. This is different however. The government warns the water subject to these advisories is not safe to cook, clean, brush your teeth, or even bathe your children in. They do say people impacted by this can take showers if they’re healthy adults, but there’s evidence some of it can’t even be used for that.

Why Isn’t The Government Doing Anything?

For context, in May of 2000 a community a few hours from Toronto called Walkerton, had an advisory put on their water. The Canadian Government proceeded to throw all their resources at the issue, rallying around the community to correct the problem within 198 days. For some reason, the over 1000 advisories in the rest of Canada aren’t considered an issue. The Government of Canada has pledged to fix most of the problem by 2021 – in 5 years. It’s a part of a $4.5 billion dollar funding program designed to improve infrastructure in indigenous communities. That’s a wicked long timeline already, but there’s a good chance they won’t even begin to scratch the surface of the issue by then. Why do I think that? Because they’ve tried this before.

Between 1995 and 2008, the federal government’s Aboriginal Affairs department spent $3.5 billion to tackle the problem. Things have since gotten worse. Despite the seemingly large amount of money, they can’t even identify all of the regions that require their water treatment facilities to be fixed– nevermind actually fix them.

This isn’t a technical problem that the Government can’t figure out, it’s bulls**t politics getting in the way of actually helping fellow Canadians. Instead of tackling the problem, they fragmented and obfuscated data to make it look smaller than it is. This systematic approach to solving a problem by skewing the data might be fine when you miscalculate inflation, but it’s truly disgusting that we would rather have a positive data point than actually figure out where and how to tackle the issue of people not having clean water.

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With contributions from Stephen Punwasi.



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  • Daniel 7 years ago

    Unbelievable. Who exactly is this government serving? A few million for Syria, free trade for China, security exemptions when the US warns…but fixing the water? We don’t know how to fix that…BS.

  • Michael Z. 7 years ago

    Celebrating 150 years of systematic genocide! We do it l, then convince the public they did it to themselves.

    Chinese Railroad workers? They invited themselves, and chose not to take pay for dangerous work.

    Indigenous tribes? They don’t want clean water, they want to deal with it themselves.

    If you’re going to continue screwing us, can you at least not lie to our face about it?

  • Sean Pearce 7 years ago

    Walkerton is also a smaller town than most of these places. It also only cost $25M to clean up, and took six months. The only difference is it impacted white people, so they fixed it lightning fast.

  • Ahmed 7 years ago

    Wonder how big the actual number is. If they only counted 10%, the other 90% of advisories could be a much, much larger number.

    I’m not sure who in the government marks a water advisory active then does nothing else. That’s some next level bureaucratic BS.

  • Simon C. 7 years ago

    If you want that problem solved in no time, have some white people move there for a week. The government will solve it by next Tuesday.

    Anyone that thinks we’re not doing this to these communities out of systematic control for land, has no idea how Canadian-Native relations work. We’re not skeptical enough of these butt holes that lie to our faces, then say it was an accident when they screw us.

  • Khan 7 years ago

    Im from syria we are happy with this water…. Justin trudeau please bring the entire syria please please …….Many of us still not able to find jobs in this country ….Please provide more benefits and free house (Since prices are high), we can find jobs and sponsor all our wives…..

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