“Water Security in Canada: Responsibilities of the Federal Government” IISD Publications

May 26, 2011 | Corporate Member News

 Karla Zubrycki, Dimple Roy, Henry David Venema, David B. Brooks, IISD, 2011. Paper, 85 pages, copyright: IISD

In taking on the responsibility of governing Canada, the federal government agrees to a social contract—that it will protect Canadian citizens from harm and that they, in exchange, will give up some degree of freedom for this security. In the Canadian Constitution, this social contract takes the form of the “peace, order and good government”?(POGG) power bestowed upon the federal government. Canadians who elect a government to power have the right to expect the government to pursue actions that will maintain peace and stability in both the short and long-term. Water security is part of the social contract; the maintenance of social order and the well-being of citizens are tied to the adequate quantity and quality of water.

The Canadian Constitution does not delegate responsibility for water clearly to either the federal or the provincial governments. Disagreements and uncertainty around water responsibilities in Canada have led to irregular attention to water issues and left some concerns insufficiently addressed by either level of government.

Specific topics discussed in this report include fisheries and fish habitat, surface water monitoring, groundwater monitoring, pollution control, instream flows, boundary and transboundary waters, interprovincial waters, bulk water exports, navigation, water demand management, water on federal lands and drinking water.

This report discusses the confusion that has arisen in these key water security areas and suggests potential federal roles for each area. We assert that, in all areas, there are key roles the federal government must fill in order to guarantee a high level of water security to Canadians. The report also makes specific recommendations for how water security can be improved by the federal government.

Access the report here.

About the International Institute for Sustainable Development 

The world is challenged by a changing climate, biodiversity loss, abject poverty and environmental degradation. What can make a difference? Good ideas. Creativity. Passion. Innovation. The achievement of change. 

IISD is in the business of promoting change towards sustainable development. As a policy research institute dedicated to effective communication of our findings, we engage decision-makers in government, business, NGOs and other sectors in the development and implementation of policies that are simultaneously beneficial to the global economy, the global environment and to social well-being. 

In the pursuit of sustainable development, we promote open and effective international negotiation processes. And we believe fervently in the importance of building our own institutional capacity while helping our partner organizations in the developing world to excel. 

Established in 1990, IISD is a Canadian-based not-for-profit organization with a diverse team of more than 150 people located in more than 30 countries. Through our dynamic portfolio of projects, we partner with more than 200 organizations throughout the world. To learn more about our history, please visit the IISD Timeline. 

Click here to learn more about our project work and programs, which are guided by our strategic institutional directions. And please visit our IISD Linkages site to follow our coverage of international negotiations on environment and development. 

IISD is registered as a charitable organization in Canada and has 501(c)(3) status in the United States. IISD receives core operating support from the Government of Canada, provided through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Environment Canada, and from the Province of Manitoba. The Institute receives project funding from numerous governments inside and outside Canada, United Nations agencies, foundations and the private sector.

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