Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Support major investments in Canada’s fresh water

Environment and Climate Change Canada, Government of Canada (

    Advancing freshwater protection is a priority of the Government of Canada, which has made commitments to implement a strengthened Freshwater Action Plan and establish a Canada Water Agency.

    The Canada Water Agency is a unique opportunity for Canada to work together with the provinces, territories, Indigenous communities, local authorities, scientists and others to find the best ways to keep our water safe, clean and well-managed.

    On March 28, through Budget 2023, the Government of Canada announced a major investment in Canada’s freshwater, including:
    • $650 million over ten years, starting in 2023-24, to support monitoring, assessment, and restoration work in the Great Lakes, Lake Winnipeg, Lake of the Woods, St. Lawrence River, Fraser River, Saint John River, Mackenzie River, and Lake Simcoe.
    • $22.6 million over three years, starting in 2023-24, to support better coordination of efforts to protect freshwater across Canada.
    • $85.1 million over five years, starting in 2023-24, and $21 million per year ongoing thereafter to support the creation of a Canada Water Agency, which will be headquartered in Winnipeg. By the end of 2023, the government will introduce legislation that will fully establish the Canada Water Agency as a standalone entity.

    The Government of Canada has also committed to advance the modernization of the Canada Water Act to reflect Canada’s freshwater reality, including climate change and Indigenous rights.

    Expected Impact

    Canada is home to 20 per cent of the world’s freshwater supply. Recognizing the threat to fresh water caused by climate change and pollution, the federal government is moving forward on these freshwater investments.

    For many Indigenous Peoples water is sacred, protected, and honoured as the giver of all life. Fresh water is essential to health and critical for the economy. Lakes and rivers across Canada support fisheries, forestry, agriculture, energy, manufacturing, recreation and tourism, shipping, and navigation.

    Strong freshwater stewardship is critical to ensure the well-being of ecosystems and communities. As such, implementing a strengthened Freshwater Action Plan and investing in the restoration of large lakes and river systems are key freshwater priorities for the Government of Canada. Watershed-based approaches are and will continue to underpin Canada’s investment in freshwater protection and management.

    The Canada Water Agency represents an opportunity for the federal government to work collaboratively with provinces, territories, Indigenous Peoples, and local governments to strengthen Canada’s water resilience.

    The modernization of the Canada Water Act is an opportunity to reflect climate change, Indigenous rights, and potentially other topics into the legislation.

    Implementing a strengthened Freshwater Action Plan, the creation of a Canada Water Agency, and the modernization of the Canada Water Act will directly contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 6 – clean water and sanitation for all, by protecting fresh water in Canada. These investments will also benefit other Sustainable Development Goals and advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

    Parallel to these freshwater initiatives, Canada also works with First Nations to support the development and implementation of community-based source water protection plans to help ensure the sustainable provision of safe drinking water now and for future generations. These initiatives are separate from the implementation of the Freshwater Action Plan, creation of the Canada Water Agency, and modernization of the Canada Water Act and will be completed on a separate timeline.

    Goal 6

    Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

    Goal 6


    By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all


    Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services


    By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations


    Proportion of population using (a) safely managed sanitation services and (b) a hand-washing facility with soap and water


    By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally


    Proportion of domestic and industrial wastewater flows safely treated


    Proportion of bodies of water with good ambient water quality


    By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity

    Change in water-use efficiency over time


    Level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources


    By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate


    Degree of integrated water resources management 


    Proportion of transboundary basin area with an operational arrangement for water cooperation


    By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes

    Change in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time


    By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies

    Amount of water- and sanitation-related official development assistance that is part of a government-coordinated spending plan


    Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management


    Proportion of local administrative units with established and operational policies and procedures for participation of local communities in water and sanitation management

    Name Description
    Implement a strengthened Freshwater Action Plan and create a Canada Water Agency.
    Financing (in USD)
    Major investments in a strengthened Freshwater Action Plan
    Financing (in USD)
    Support the creation of a Canada Water Agency
    No progress reports have been submitted. Please sign in and click here to submit one.
    Action Network
    water logo
    Environment and Climate Change Canada, Government of Canada
    1. North America
    Other beneficiaries

    - Indigenous Peoples, provincial and territorial governments, stakeholders, and the public

    Website/More information
    Contact Information

    Gemma , Director, Water Policy, Canada Water Agency Transition Office