Canada has 20 per cent of the world?s freshwater reserves ? this is how to protect itThe federal government has been working since 2020 to creat...

Canada has 20 per cent of the world?s freshwater reserves ? this is how to protect itThe federal government has been working since 2020 to creat...Canada has 20 per cent of the world?s freshwater reserves ? this is how to protect it

The federal government has been working since 2020 to create a Canadian agency dedicated to water management across the country. Public consultations ended on March 1, and the Indigenous engagement process will continue throughout 2021.

But many questions and expectations remain about the nature of the new Canada Water Agency. Water governance encompasses all the administrative, social, political, economic and legal processes put in place to manage water. In other words, it is these societal processes that determine how governmental and non-governmental groups develop measures and make decisions in the area of water management.

We are members of the University of Ottawa Forum on Water Law and Governance, a research network that has identified a series of law and governance issues that need to be considered by the future Canada Water Agency.

The urgency to act
As the global demand for freshwater steadily increases, Canada seems to be in a privileged position: it holds 20 per cent of the world’s freshwater supply and nine per cent of the world’s renewable freshwater resources.

Political analysis, without partisanship
However, when it comes to the urgent issue of freshwater management, many factors come into play. These include climate change, which is occurring more rapidly in Canada than elsewhere and has pronounced environmental consequences, access to drinking water in Indigenous communities and flood policies. All of these issues contribute to the need to create a Canada Water Agency

Environment and Climate Change Canada released a discussion paper on the future agency in December 2020, and held public consultations through virtual national and regional forums in January and February 2021. Indigenous engagement is ongoing.

An interdisciplinary conference on the challenges of the future Canada Water Agency was held on March 22, 2021.
Legal challenges
Canadian water law is hindered by interjurisdictional issues and a lack of co-ordination between government groups. Many proposals have been made to overcome these obstacles.

For starters, there are discussions about possible co-operative efforts in the light of the constitutional division of powers and the impact of recent case law on co-operative federalism. There have also been calls to reform the Canada Water Act to reconsider freshwater management through watershed management.