Southern Ontario First Nation chief hails funding to end 12-year water advisories

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OTTAWA — The chief of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte First Nation says new funding from the federal government will allow his nation to lift five long-term drinking water advisories.

Chief R. Donald Maracle says many members of his community in southern Ontario have been suffering from the lack of access to safe and clean water due to fecal, bacteria and algae contaminations since 2008.

He says the construction of eight-kilometre long water pipes has started after his nation received $16.7 million from Ottawa for the project.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press he realized only recently his government would not deliver on its long-held promise to lift all drinking-water advisories in First Nations communities by March 2021, adding that COVID-19 restrictions have blocked access to certain communities.

Maracle says the COVID-19 pandemic has also disrupted supply chains from manufacturers and made them unreliable for construction projects, which escalated the cost of the watermains project from about $8.1 million to $18.2 million.

The government says 58 long-term drinking water advisories are still affecting 40 First Nations communities across the country.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.