Water Quality in Canada

Providing healthy, safe drinking water to citizens is very important to the Canadian government. The Canadian government developed an organization called the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee, who was instructed to develop the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. These guidelines establish limits on substances that are allowed in drinking water and to what degree they are allowed, maintaining a high water quality in Canada.

The most important guideline is the Microbiological Quality guideline. The microbiological organisms that affect water quality include viruses, protozoa and bacteria. This guideline is the most important since these organisms can cause harm to those that drink it, both in the short and long-term.

Canada has had an increasing problem with algal blooms. Algal blooms are toxic, and these blooms are becoming more frequent and growing in spatial intensity.

The next set of guidelines to maintain the water quality in Canada is the Chemical and Radiological Quality guideline. The chemicals and other materials that provide the greatest risk in this category are fertilizers, silt, agricultural run-off and other minerals. These guidelines regulate the trace amounts in drinking water, as levels higher than those outlined in the guideline can cause health issues over a period of years.

The last category of guidelines is the Aesthetic Quality. These guidelines address things that consumers are most quick to notice; taste, odor and color. Most problems with these qualities come from water treatment plants or the distribution systems to the consumer’s house, such as piping.

In order to effectively regulate these guidelines, Canada has established 173 monitoring stations. The City of Ottawa itself performs over 125,000 water quality tests a year, checking for over 300 chemical contaminants.

These guidelines have proven to be very effective as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) gave a grade of “A” to the water quality in Canada.

When compared to 16 other peer countries, as considered by the OECD, Canada ranked 4th behind Sweden, Austria and Norway. In comparison, the United States was ranked 13th with a grade of “C”.

Scott Kesselring

Photo: Flickr

Education in Canada

Education in Canada ranks among the highest in the world according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This is despite the fact that performance in math, reading and science has gone down in recent years.

Although performance in these three subjects has gone down, the impact of socioeconomic status is lower than the OECD average and students from immigrant backgrounds score similarly to their peers. Every Canadian province and territory provides pre-primary education for children who are five years old. Education in Canada is mandatory until the age of 16 or 18, depending on the province or territory, and grade repetition is lower than the average among OECD nations.

Education in Canada is decentralized. There are one or two departments in each of Canada’s 13 districts that are charged with organization, delivery and evaluation of the education system. Education is primarily provided by institutions that are supported through public funds from each of the jurisdictions. Canada’s federal government provides a portion of the funding needed for post-secondary education. In addition to that, it also provides programs which support the development of skills.

Canada also ranks above the OECD average in high school graduation rate, and it ranks the highest among OECD nations in tertiary education. Despite this, the Huffington Post reported that there are still some problems when it comes to education in Canada. “Pumping out post-secondary students doesn’t say much about the health of a country’s education system,” Mehrnaz Bassiri wrote.

The good news it, post-secondary education in Canada is more widely available because the cost is not as high as it is in places like the United States and United Kingdom. However, Canada’s low population density accompanied by the sufficient presence of universities allows for a greater percentage of Canadians to obtain a degree from a university, which has thus brought down the value of a degree.

While the benefits of a highly educated workforce have had detrimental effects on the value of college degrees, education in Canada is ranked among the highest of OECD nations, and should be applauded for its continued efforts toward inclusion and accessibility.

Fernando Vazquez

Photo: Flickr