Earlier today we told you about a motion being put forth by the  Liberals, calling on the Government of Canada to make First Nations access to clean water an urgent priority.

And now, we are happy to report on an exciting new development: The federal government has committed to ensuring safe drinking for Canada’s First Nations.

The Liberal motion, introduced by interim leader Bob Rae, calls on the Government of Canada to “address on an urgent basis the needs of those First Nations communities whose members have no access to clean, running water in their homes; that action to address this disparity begin no later than spring 2012; and that the House further recognize that the absence of this basic requirement represents a continuing affront to our sense of justice and fairness as Canadians.”

“It’s a good motion from the standpoint that we are all in agreement that the current standards are unacceptable,” said John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, this morning.

The news is a welcome step in the right direction, and comes at a time when national leadership on drinking water safety is urgently needed.

Our third national drinking water report, Waterproof 3 — released earlier this week — highlighted serious failures by the federal government to do its part to ensure all Canadians, including First Nations communities, have access to safe, clean drinking water.

“The government’s commitment to ensure all First Nations reserves have clean drinking water is a move in the right direction and all parties in the House deserve credit for stepping up on the issue,” said Randy Christensen, Ecojustice lawyer and author of Waterproof 3. “Access to clean, safe drinking water for all Canadians, including First Nations, must be a national priority.”

As of July 2011, there were 126 First Nations communities across Canada under a drinking water advisory, an increase from 106 communities in December 2008.