Policy and Political Action

Policy & Political Action

Urgent Action Alert to Premier McGuinty: Recognize Water as a Human Right

Octobr 25, 2010


“There is no question that water is a health issue” Maude Barlow, well-known water activist and Council of Canadians Chairperson told the RNAO’s Knowledge: The Power of Nursing Conference last week. She called on nurses to use their power – the tremendous respect and trust people have for them – to fight for safe, clean, accessible and affordable water and sanitation as a human right to be enjoyed by all.


Last week Barlow talked about how every eight seconds a child dies of water-borne disease, in every case preventable if their parents had money to pay for water. She spoke about the appalling state of water and sanitation in First Nation communities here in Canada and the fact that about 100 long-term boil water advisories are in effect at any given time.


On July 28, 2010, history was made when a majority of the United Nations General Assembly voted to recognize water and sanitation as a universal human right. Shamefully, Canada, who had been resisting recognizing water as a human right, abstained.


But that was just the beginning.


Bill 72, the Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act, 2010, is now being considered by the Ontario Legislature. As set out in the draft legislation, the Bill’s purpose is to make Ontario a North American leader in developing innovative water technologies and to conserve and sustain water resources for present and future generations. RNAO and a number of environmental groups support the approach of Bill 72. However, as currently drafted, the Bill misses an opportunity to maintain water under public ownership and control and to enshrine in provincial law recognition of water and sanitation as a basic human right. To read RNAO’s submission to the Legislature on Bill 72, click here.


Here’s where you come in. This week, the Legislative Standing Committee will consider amendments to Bill 72. With your help, we can urge the Premier and opposition parties to seize the opportunity to recognize water and sanitation as a universal human right in Ontario. Time is short. The significance of Ontario leading the way on this vital issue would be immense.


Please Act TODAY


Please tell Premier Dalton McGuinty, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath that RNs know that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to health. Now is the time for Ontario to lead the way and recognize water and sanitation as a universal human right.


Remember, the window for amendments to Bill 72, the Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act is this Monday, October 25.  Please don’t delay.


  1. Email the letter below to Premier Dalton McGuinty. A copy will also automatically be sent to Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and all the MPPs on the Legislative Committee that is considering Bill 72.

  1. Please share this action alert with your colleagues, friends, family and anyone who cares deeply about the quality of our water and ask them to write as well.