Globally the statistics are stark: 780 million people do not have access to safe water and as a result every 20 seconds a child dies from a water-related illness. Of the 3.4 million people who die every year from water-borne illnesses, 99 per cent are located in developing countries.
As Canadians we are fortunate that there is an abundance of fresh water in this country. However, not all Canadians have equal access to potable water.
There are currently 113 First Nations communities across Canada living under drinking water advisories. This national tragedy of neglect has been allowed to continue for far too long.
The Conservatives are recklessly rushing to exploit Canadaâ€™s water resources without proper water protection legislation. Thanks to their dismantling of the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the number of protected lakes and rivers has been reduced to a few hundred, and they cut funding for the world renowned Experimental Lakes Area research facility.
Basic environmental protections are being ignored, allowing contaminants to be released into watersheds that thousands depend on, while governments continue to shirk their responsibilities to monitor and control pollution.
Our marine ecosystems are also in trouble. In his last report, the Environmental Commissioner warned that Canadaâ€™s oceans are increasingly threatened by pollution, overfishing and climate change.
Clean water is essential for life. We must recognise that water isnâ€™t just a resource issue; itâ€™s a health, economic and humanitarian issue.