Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa (left to right), Lawrence Sakanee and Alex Moonias of Neskantaga First Nation pose for a photo during a rally outside Queen’s Park in Toronto, Friday, Nov.6, 2020. Residents were evacuated over tainted water from the northern Ontario First Nation last month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio

Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa (left to right), Lawrence Sakanee and Alex Moonias of Neskantaga First Nation pose for a photo during a rally outside Queen’s Park in Toronto, Friday, Nov.6, 2020. Residents were evacuated over tainted water from the northern Ontario First Nation last month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio

Boil-water advisories at First Nations communities to remain past March 2021: feds

In October, Neskantaga First Nation in northern Ontario, which has had a boil-water advisory in place for 25 years, were evacuated from their homes

Government officials say at least 22 boil-water advisories in First Nations communities will remain in place after March 2021, the deadline to deliver on a promise to lift all long-term advisories made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau five years ago.

Christiane Fox, the deputy minister of Indigenous Services, says the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into efforts to upgrade water systems and carry out on-site training, with supply chains snarled and some reserves opting to restrict travel.

Fox says the complexity of projects, which can include infrastructure overhauls, on remote sites have added to the delay.

The department says 97 boil-water advisories have been lifted since 2016, while 59 remain in place in 41 communities as the problem of unreliable drinking water persists.

In late October, about 250 residents of Neskantaga First Nation in northern Ontario, which has had a boil-water advisory in place for 25 years, were evacuated from their homes following the discovery of an oily sheen in it reservoir.

In its fall economic statement Monday, the Liberal government pledged to invest $1.5 billion this year to work toward lifting all long-term drinking water advisories in Indigenous communities, on top of $2.1 billion already committed since 2016.

The Canadian Press

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