Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admits the federal government will fall short of its long-held promise to lift all drinking-water advisories in First Nations communities by March 2021.
Trudeau says he realized only recently that his government would not be able to make good on the promise in a year-end interview with the Canadian Press.
The Prime Minister says he always knew reaching that goal would be tough, but it became clear within the last month or so that advisories would remain in nearly two dozen communities after the deadline has passed.
He says COVID-19 restrictions have blocked access to certain Indigenous communities and it became clear that it would not happen in time, despite his hope that adding more money, or more pressure, would be enough to speed things up.
Trudeau says creating systems and structures that are supported by the community and sustainable over the long term requires a lot more work than short-term solutions.
Indigenous Services Canada said earlier this month that 97 boil-water advisories have been lifted since 2016, but it expects 22 to remain in place after the March deadline.
The Liberal government pledged to spend $1.5 billion over the next five years in its fall economic update to lift all remaining long-term boil-water advisories.
With files from the Canadian Press, first published Dec. 17, 2020