Dear Valued OMWA Member,
In March 2022, the OMWA sent emails to all four main political parties in the upcoming provincial election. We asked them to answer several questions related to their party’s policies regarding water in order to better educate our members for the election.
Of the four parties, the Progressive Conservatives did not respond. Please click on the link below to see the responses of the Liberal, NDP, and Green parties.
Here is what the OMWA asked:
1. The existing water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure deficit in many communities is quite substantial. This legacy financial burden coupled with increasing costs of ever more complex operations has led to financial viability concerns in many Ontario communities. Despite completing and submitting the required Financial and Asset Management Plans, many of these communities are finding that providing sustainable systems with affordable water & wastewater rates is ever more challenging. Often such affordability issues become magnified in small to medium sized communities and/or those communities with lower population densities. How would your government utilize the information and data from the Asset Management and Financial plans submitted by municipalities to assess the financial situation and address the financial viability of those communities experiencing challenges?
2. Given the 2019 Health Canada release of a new Guideline recommending a (5ug/l) limit for Lead in drinking water and the potential negative health impacts associated with exposure to lead in any amount, how would your government work with Federal & Municipal partners to protect Ontarians by reducing or eliminating the exposure risks from lead in their drinking water?
3. Consistent and sustainable delivery of effective public water, wastewater, and stormwater services provides the foundation for safe, healthy, and prosperous Ontario communities and directly impacts the personal security of Ontarians. Providing these high-quality water services in today’s environment is a complex, expensive, and challenging undertaking. Given our reliance on these services, achieving, and maintaining sustainable public water systems requires substantial ongoing investments and strategic decision-making. Exploring the appetite of stakeholders to evaluate a range of new governance models from regional collaboratives to using skill or expert-based Boards or Technical Advisory Groups that could yield focussed oversight, financial accountability, and strategic leadership while preserving flexible, local autonomy. Explain your government’s approach to engage with existing service providers and other stakeholders of public water, wastewater, and stormwater services toward exploring the potential benefits of governance models including leveraging expert-based boards and regional collaborative models to generate opportunities to improve governance of these critical services?
4. As evidenced by recent events in multiple jurisdictions, many communities have experienced negative impacts from significant weather events. Such impacts range from flooding of homes and businesses, damage to public and private infrastructure, to harming or degrading the natural environment. Longer term concerns include increased costs and even availability of home and property flood insurance. As a result, improving the capacity to mitigate the effects of these more frequent and more severe weather events is rapidly becoming an urgent imperative for many Ontarians. Various types of intense weather event scenarios (extreme heat/cold/flooding) can create a variety of challenges and significant impacts for our water, wastewater, and stormwater systems. Improving community resiliency by mitigating the impacts of more severe and more frequent extremes of weather requires a coordinated, multi-faceted approach to improve local infrastructure standards, procedures, and processes along with strategies that consider impacts on downstream and/or regional stakeholders. Please explain your government’s strategy for protecting communities and improving the resiliency of public water, wastewater, and stormwater systems from the negative impacts of severe weather events?
5. The lens of our Covid pandemic experience has confirmed the reliance of Ontario communities on a variety of front-line staff who perform services essential to our safety, health, and security. Although including water and wastewater operating staff as ‘Essential’ has been explored in the past, recent employment trends and increasing challenges suggest that it may be time to consider addressing the ongoing concerns recruiting and retaining suitably qualified staff to operate water and wastewater facilities and systems in some manner. Given the highly regulated and 24/7/365 nature of operators’ core work, many communities report more and more difficulty in attracting, hiring, and keeping operators causing increased risk and potentially leaving communities vulnerable. Often, such recruitment and retention issues become magnified in small to medium sized communities thereby relegating these communities to be ‘training grounds’ that develop fully-qualified operators who then migrate to larger communities. How would your government work with key industry stakeholders to ensure such staffing issues do not adversely affect water and wastewater systems?
6. Expanding the use of Innovative equipment and technologies can assist water, wastewater, and stormwater service providers in lowering costs and improving many aspects of their operations. How would your government improve innovation pathways and reduce barriers and lead times for suppliers of such innovative products, technologies, and services?