Sandy Shaw MPP, Hamilton West–Ancaster–Dundas

Government of Ontario

Sandy Shaw comments on proposal to extend water bottling permit moratorium

Published on December 19, 2019

MPP Sandy Shaw joined dozens of constituents in exercising her environmental rights and commenting in favour of the proposal to extend to moratorium on Water Bottling Permits in Ontario. You can read her full comment her. 

Dear Minister Yurek,

I’m writing to convey my support for the proposal to extend the moratorium on water bottling permits.

The ban was first implemented so that research on Ontario’s groundwater could be completed and the province could ensure that ground water is being managed sustainably. Access to clean drinking water is a human right. Sustainable management means ensuring that future generations will have access to the water they need and that no one is denied access to water. Given Canada has declared a climate emergency we need to make decisions different. Moving forward, the following priorities should be taken into account in considering all water permits:

  1. Science and Evidence based - The government must intervene, through regulation, to keep the moratorium in place until the science is made public, consulted on, and used to inform new rules for water bottlers. Ontario hosts one fifth of the world’s fresh water and ground water makes up over half of our total water supply with over a quarter of Ontarians relying on groundwater drinking water supplies. Further to this the plastic water bottling industry creates massive quantities of single use plastics something we are already noticing is having an extremely detrimental impact on our global water systems. Given the extreme importance of Ontario’s ground water supply to not just Ontarians but the global supply of fresh water it is essential we employ the precautionary principle to this decision making. We should be phasing out water bottling permits entirely but as we do so all new permits and renewal should require an environmental assessment. Furthermore, the province should introduce legislation that ensures plastic producers are responsible for the lifecycle of their products as an interim measure as we phase out single-use bottled water facilities entirely. Our water is precious and governments must put drinking water first and ensure groundwater supplies are preserved well into the future with long term, science-based policies.
  2. Prioritize Reconciliation – Under current permits, Nestle extracts millions of litres of ground water a day from Six Nation’s Treaty Land, while families living in Six Nations do not have access to clean and reliable drinking water. This is at a time when Nibi awan bimaadiziwiin, a collective of indigenous water protectors in Hamilton, have called on us to do more than think of water as something to use and exploit but something we have responsibilities to as well. New policies and regulations should include and incorporate indigenous knowledge and decision making in their creation. Furthermore, the Ontario government needs to fully accept and adhere to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, especially regarding seeking the free, prior, and informed consent.
  3. Public Ownership over Private Profit - Companies like Nestlé are already reaping massive profits from Ontario’s public water by drawing up to 4.7 million litres every day from Aberfoyle and Erin wells. If the moratorium ends, they’d be allowed to request a permit for 1.6 million litres more per day from the Middlebrook well near Elora. The same well that the Township of Centre Wellington needs to supply their growing population with clean drinking water. Groundwater resources are finite. Droughts, climate change and over-extraction continue to impact limited water sources. At this pace, we will not have enough water for our future needs. Wasting limited groundwater on non-essential and consumptive uses such as bottled water is irresponsible. Nestlé’s corporate profit plans should not be put ahead of community needs. I call on you to protect water in Ontario for today and future generations by phasing out bottled water permits for good.

If we can’t deal with the water bottling industry in Ontario how will we tackle climate change as a whole?


Sandy Shaw

MPP Hamilton-West, Ancaster, Dundas