OTTAWA — Finance Minister Bill Morneau is facing increased pressure from aboriginal advocates ahead of his first budget to move beyond symbolism and to spell out how Canada plans to reform the fiscal relationship with First Nations.
The NDP's indigenous affairs critic Charlie Angus says he is concerned the government has not properly costed several of its promises to indigenous peoples including its pledge to end boil-water advisories in five years.
Minister of Finance Bill Morneau responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons, on Feb. 4, 2016 in Ottawa. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
In a letter to Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, Angus says numbers provided to his office outline the magnitude of the problem: First Nations communities have been under boil water advisories for more than 320,000 days.
He says the figures also show 136 drinking water advisories were in place in 92 communities in November — not including B.C. and the territories.
Angus notes solutions could cost billions based on a 2011 government study which indicated water and wastewater servicing needs could cost $4.7-billion, plus a projected operating and maintenance cost of $419-million per year.
The Liberals have made other sweeping commitments on the aboriginal affairs file including a promise to lift the two-per-cent cap on funding for reserve programs and services.
Morneau is set to table his first budget on Tuesday.
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