Good freshwater policy sets the government’s vision and direction for proactive measure for the assurance of healthy water. British Columbia’s Living Water Smart policy, while nearly ten years old now, is a good example of a visionary document that supported many proactive changes in the province, including the creation of the new Water Sustainability Act which replaced the previous water legislation that was a hundred years old.
Across Canada, freshwater policies take various forms and range in age. Some jurisdictions have policy documents that are quite out-dated (as is Canada’s Federal Water Policy of 1987) while others are actively renewing and updating policy documents (such as in Quebec and in New Brunswick). Some jurisdictions, such as Ontario, have freshwater policies for areas within the province, such as the Great Lakes Strategy, but do not have a province-wide freshwater policy.
|Jurisdiction||Policy within last 10 Years?||Name of Policy|
|Federal||No||1987 Federal Water Policy|
|British Columbia||Yes||2008 Living Water Smart - British Columbia's Water Plan|
|Alberta||Yes||2008 Water for Life Renewal|
|Saskatchewan||Yes||2012 Water Security Plan|
|Manitoba||No||2003 Manitoba Water Strategy|
|Québec||No||2002 National Water Policy|
|New Brunswick||No||A draft “Water Strategy for New Brunswick” was release in fall of 2017|
|Nova Scotia||Yes||2015 Water Resources Management Strategy|
|Prince Edward Island||Yes||2015 Watershed Strategy|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||No||n/a|
|Yukon||Yes||2014 Water for Nature, Water for People: Yukon Water Strategy and Action Plan|
|Northwest Territories||Yes||2010 Northern Voices, Northern Waters: NWT Water Stewardship Strategy|
It’s important that freshwater policies be renewed regularly, whether reviewed and tweaked or completely overhauled, depending on the context. As policies age, information within them becomes outdated, issues change, and actions promised can get completed or become irrelevant. New policies, ideally, create new commitments based on updated data and knowledge to ensure freshwater sustainability now and into the future.
5-Year target: Our target is to complete further analysis of the different policies to assess whether they are adequately sustainability-focused. In addition, we will work with the network to encourage all expiring or non-existent policies to be renewed/created. In five years, our target is for at least 10 of the jurisdictions to have a public policy on freshwater that is less than ten years old.
Last updated November 2017