Canada has one-fifth of the world’s fresh water, a quarter of its remaining in wetlands and its longest coastline.
If Canadians would realize the potential dangers to the precious ecosystem that sustains us in so many ways, they would support an environmental bill of rights that:
• recognizes, protects and fulfills our right to a healthy environment, including our right to clean water
• provides clear guidelines for government, industry and citizens to manage resources, economic development and the health and well-being of communities in ways that are transparent, predictable and sustainable.
Canada is the only G8 country without legally enforceable drinking-water-quality standards at the national level. On any given day, more than 1,000 boil-water advisories are in effect across the country, many in Indigenous communities. Places like Shoal Lake 40, Grassy Narrows and Neskantaga have been under boil-water advisories for decades.
In my particular area, where the pulp and paper industry has polluted our waters, which support a shellfishery and underwater habitat, I have a personal stake.
Many municipal water supplies are derived solely from groundwater. Polluted groundwater is less visible and more difficult to clean up than rivers and lakes.
There are so many possible levels of destruction when there is no protection for clean drinking water. So please urge the federal government to introduce an environmental bill of rights that recognizes, protects and fulfills our human right to clean water.
More than ever we need proper legal protection for our fresh water and ground water. We have an apparent abundance, but are not caring for it, with the result that there are communities with contaminated water, downstream pollution from industrial waste, and unnecessary illness.
In our community last year we had to deal with serious drought. I had to watch beautiful rhododendrons wilt and die. And that makes me think about the importance of caring for our chances to grow fruit and vegetables. We can’t count on California and Mexico any more.
Our government needs to create and enforce an environmental bill of rights to include our absolute right to clean water. This would require agencies at all levels to take their responsibilities seriously or face consequences. With our present lack of enforceable standards we face enormous costs in health care and remediation. Prevention would be less costly and infinitely more effective.
Further, our federal government needs to take steps to protect us from trade and investor agreements that allow foreign corporations to sue for lack of profitability, specifically in this case regarding water.
It is shocking that Canada is the only G8 country without enforceable drinking water standards. There is no excuse.
Irene WrightSalt Spring Island
Many students live in poverty, need our help
It is sad that almost one in five local school children are living in poverty. Children don’t choose to be born into poverty, and many may grow up never realizing their human potential.
Many local families are affected by ‘situational’ poverty as a result of divorce, death of a spouse, loss of employment, chronic illness. Making ends meet on low-paying jobs while trying to cover the high cost of rent, child care, food and, – in some cases – paying off student loans, is a monthly challenge for many in our communities.
There are a number of local charitable organizations that provide support for students in need. Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation was established more than nine years ago to help give vulnerable and accomplished School District 68 students an equal chance to succeed.
Generous community donors provide the means to respond to students’ many needs – be it school supplies, clean clothes or shoes, food to ensure they start their school day with breakfast, or scholarships/bursaries to help Grade 12 graduates with the high cost of post-secondary education.
Many more students need help.
Crystal DennisonExecutive DirectorNanaimo-LadysmithSchools Foundation