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Hajdu hopes long-term boiling water advice is lifted by 2025, ending Freedom-NDP deal

OTTAWA – Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu hopes Canada will be able to lift the remaining long-term advice on drinking water by 2025 – the year when the agreement between the NDP and the Liberal government is about to expire.

Hajdu has declined to give a firm deadline for the commitment since taking on the role last fall, saying there are many technical challenges with the assignment.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, when he was first elected in 2015, promised to end all long-term drinking water advisers to the First Nations by March 2021. His government failed to meet a deadline. there.

Recently, Trudeau secured what appeared to be an easier path for his minority Liberal government to achieve some of its shared priorities with the federal New Democratic Party by forging an agreement with The party will keep him in power until 2025.

Then, Trudeau, who is in his third term, will be prime minister for a decade. Asked directly if the remaining 34 long-boiled water tips could be removed by that date, Hajdu replied: “I hope so.”

“Listen, I hope so. That’s the commitment the Prime Minister made in 2015. I know people were disappointed that we couldn’t raise them all, and I’m disappointed too,” she said. he said in a recent day. Interview with Canadian Press.

“I hope that we can do it by 2025. In fact, I want everyone to have clean drinking water by tomorrow.”

The lack of access to clean water from reserves is a weakness in Canada’s already troubled relationship with Indigenous Peoples.

Ensuring every country has clean tap water above all is seen as an important part of achieving reconciliation.

While that step has yet to be filled in, another has already been taken thousands of kilometers away.

About 200 indigenous delegates traveled to Rome to hear Pope Francis apologize on Friday for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in running residential schools, where thousands of indigenous children have been excluded from education. family and abuse.

Ottawa did not participate in the delegation’s request, Hajdu said on Thursday. But she had tears in her eyes as she described listening to Sheriff Willie Littlechild, a delegate and residential school survivor, speak in Rome.

“I still get emotional when I think about the experiences of so many Indigenous people. It’s really, really hard to believe the burden of pain that families have to bear.”

When it comes to removing long-term drinking water advice, Hajdu said she plans to reach out to everyone at the top of the 34 such informed communities, adding that each community has a plan. work.

She said Ottawa also now covers all maintenance and operating costs.

“It’s not a matter of money,” she said, but a logistical issue that changes depending on the remoteness of the community and its infrastructure, which can slow work.

First-country housing is also still an issue. One of the priorities listed under the new Freedom-NDP arrangement is “significant additional investment in Indigenous housing by 2022.”

The Council of First Nations has urged heads of state to urge Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to include $60 billion in her upcoming budget, $44 billion of which will go toward addressing housing needs. at current, including overload and repair.

The National Advocacy says an additional $16 billion is needed to deal with the growing population.

AFN estimates 60% of First Nations homes need repair and 30% are multi-generational single-family homes.

Hajdu does not disclose what she requires from the housing budget.

However, she said the government remained committed to closing the infrastructure gap for First Nations by 2030, including affordable housing.

One of the complicating factors, the minister added, is that some communities in need of housing do not have the necessary land to build on, which takes time to acquire.

“When I talk about housing with First Nations communities, it’s not just the quantity of housing, it’s the ability to build new housing.”

This report by the Canadian Press was first published on April 2, 2022

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