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OMWA - Ontario election survey declares success in standing up for drinking water consumers

Tuesday, September 25th 2007 1:45:37pm

Media Release - For Immediate Releases

Survey discloses position of political parties on future of drinking water

(Toronto, September 25, 2007) A survey issued by the Ontario Municipal Water Association (OMWA) has succeeded in getting Ontario’s political parties to be upfront with their plans for public drinking water.

“Ontario families have a right to know that the water coming out of their taps over the next four years will remain safe, clean, and publicly available at a price that is affordable to all,” said Diane Gagner, President of OMWA.

Municipal leaders are concerned that a wave of government red tape is just around the corner, which could cause water rates to spike by at least 10-15%. The rise in price would be spent on a new layer of administrative bureaucracy rather than on investing in the safety of our drinking water. An Ontario government commissioned report, ‘Watertight: The case for change in Ontario’s water and wastewater sector,’ recommended the creation of a new provincial agency to scrutinize and approve the administration and rate setting of over 700 local water operations.

Similar oversight agencies, like the Ontario Energy Board, have failed to keep rates in check. As Diane Gagner explained, “Given successive governments’ inability to control the electricity sector’s bureaucracy and debt in Ontario, recommending that a similar model be imposed on the water sector is simply unacceptable.”

As a result of the OMWA survey, two of the leading political parties, the Liberal Party of Ontario, and the New Democratic Party of Ontario, have publicly rejected the ‘Watertight’ recommendation for an Ontario Water Board, while the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party did not directly tate its position on the issue.

“We are delighted to provide to Ontario water consumers greater clarity on the future of drinking water delivery in the Province,” said Diane Gagner. “We look forward to working with the next Ontario government to keep drinking water, safe, affordable, and publicly available.”

“Privatizing our drinking water, creating new oversight agencies, or forcing the regionalization of water systems will only serve to drive up rates needlessly,” said Diane Gagner.


For more information:

Doug Parker
Executive Director
Ontario Municipal Water Association
Cell: (613) 847-0590

Diane Gagner
Ontario Municipal Water Association
Cell: (519) 401-8484

For the full text of responses to the OMWA survey, please visit the OMWA website at


Response highlights: OMWA Survey on the Regulation of the Ontario Drinking Water Sector

In response to a survey issued by the Ontario Municipal Water Association (OMWA) at the start of the Ontario election, the three leading political parties gave their prescription for ensuring affordable drinking water for Ontario water consumers while maintaining the highest standard of safety.  

Below are highlights of comments of the Ontario Liberal Party, the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party and the Ontario New Democratic Party.

With two out of three parties rejecting the creation of an Ontario Water Board, OMWA interprets these responses to mean that there is strong support for protecting locally-owned drinking water services. There also appears to be support from all parties for continued or enhanced infrastructure funding support.


1.  ‘If your party wins the October 10th election, what three priorities would your government institute to maintain safe drinking water at an affordable cost across Ontario?’

Ontario Liberal Party Response

Since 2003, have dedicated $2 billion to assist municipalities in upgrading their water and wastewater systems.

Will ensure that support continue for municipal licensing program, standard of care, lead corrosion control plans, source protection, and financial plans.

Make amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act regulations to better match size of system and risk in those systems.

Progressive Conservative Response

Working with Federal Government to define list of high risk chemicals in Ontario and requiring businesses that use them to inform themselves of innovative opportunities to phase them out.

Conserve green spaces for the future, including the greenbelt area around the GTA.

Protect Ontario’s clean water supply by fully implementing all of the O’Connor Commission recommendations… focus on Lake Simcoe and the Great Lakes …eliminating primary treated sewage by 2015.

Create a special commission to make current environmental legislation work faster and more efficiently.

Tailor standards to local needs, instead of imposing provincial standards that don’t make sense.

New Democratic Party Response

Would fully upload downloaded provincial costs by 2015. Funds formally used to fund provincial programs would be freed up to assist with the proper maintenance and upgrading of water infrastructure.

Is committed to increasing funding for enforcement at the Ministry of the Environment by $75 million annually and at the Ministry of Natural Resources by $50 million.

Would introduce meaningful volume-based water-taking fees on large industrial users and water bottlers with the funds delegated to implementing source water protection in Ontario.

2. ‘If your party wins the October 10th election, would your government implement the Watertight recommendations regarding creation of an Ontario Water Board and requirements for submission of municipal water system business plans and annual reporting to the Ontario Water Board?’

Ontario Liberal Party Response

‘…our government will not implement the recommendations regarding the creation of an Ontario Water Board. The approach we have taken is that financial plans are to be prepared by municipal drinking water systems as one requirement of their drinking water licensing process…’

Ontario Progressive Conservative Party Response


Ontario New Democratic Party Response

‘No. Our water resources and distribution systems need to be under democratic control and fully accountable and transparent in their operations. We would seek to ensure that water systems are properly funded and protection is consistent across the province.’