The federal and provincial governments jurisdiction over water is
defined in Canada's Constitution
Act, 1867 (now The
(1982). The text of
The Constitution Act can be
accessed on the Department of Justice website.
The Provincial Governments have the powers to make laws concerning the ownership and management of water. Some of the areas of legislative powers include:
Municipalities are not given any powers by the Constitution. Most provinces delegate some of their authorities to municipalities (e.g. drinking water treatment and distribution and urban wastewater treatment) and some delegate some water resource management activities, in particular areas or watersheds, to local authorities. Provincial water management authorities also permit or license most major water uses.
The Federal Government has jurisdiction over protection and conservation of the oceans, fisheries, navigation, and boundary waters shared with the United States. The federal government also has responsibilities for managing water in its own lands (e.g. National Parks), facilities (e.g. office buildings, labs, prisons, military bases), First Nations reserves, as well as Nunavut and Northwest Territories. Management of the water resources in the Yukon was transferred from the federal government to the Government of the Yukon on April 1, 2003.
The provinces and federal government share responsibilities in the areas of agriculture, significant national water issues and health.
Additional information links: