rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Why Ontario extending a moratorium on new bottled-water-taking permits isn't enough

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

Photo by Brent Patterson

Why has the Ford government proposed extending a moratorium on new and increased permits to take bottled water in Ontario? This doesn't sound like the move of an "open for business" premier in the early months of his majority government's mandate.

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks has posted on the Environmental Registry of Ontario website: "We are proposing to extend the current moratorium on new or increasing permits to take groundwater to produce bottled water. This would extend the moratorium for up to one year, to January 1, 2020."

The Ministry further explains, "Extending the moratorium would give us time to complete the review of policies, programs and science used to manage water takings across the province, including groundwater takings for water bottling."

This "up to" one-year extension would extend former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne's two-year pause on Nestlé's plan to extract 1.6 million litres of water a day from their Middlebrook well, which is set to end on January 1, 2019.

The advocacy group Wellington Water Watchers has rightly called on people to back this proposal, encouraging them to answer "yes" to this survey question on the Environmental Registry of Ontario website.

That survey question simply asks: "Do you support the proposal to extend the moratorium on water bottling permits by one year to complete the water quantity policy, program and science review?"

Water justice activists also recognize that this does not alter the situation in which Nestlé is allowed to take up to 3.6 million litres of water a day in Aberfoyle with a permit that expired on July 31, 2016 and up to 1.1 million litres a day in Hillsburgh on a permit that expired on August 31, 2017.

Nestlé's water-taking permit applications for Aberfoyle and Hillsburgh should have been posted on the Environmental Registry of Ontario's website years ago. And there's been no evident movement on this since the Ford government was elected this past June.

During the election, the Ontario PCs do not appear to have issued a policy statement on the issue of bottled-water takings.

But an "open for business" party is ideologically predisposed to believe "water equals profit" rather than acknowledge that "water is life."

For example, the Toronto Star has previously reported that clients of the Ford family firm Deco Labels & Tag have included Nestlé Canada and Coca-Cola, two major industrial consumers of water.

The Globe and Mail has also reported that, "Nestlé Canada, which says it has done about $20,000 worth of business with Deco since 2007, got involved in the [City of Toronto's] bottle-ban debate after [Doug Ford's brother Rob] Ford became mayor."

So what's going on?

Does the website survey about an extended moratorium serve to distract public attention away from Nestlé continuing to pump millions of litres of water every day on expired permits?

Does Nestlé have no immediate plans to develop the Middlebrook well, thus making the moratorium an easy political gift from Nestlé to the Ford government?

Is there a backroom deal in the works that links to Ford's closed-door meeting with Xinyi Glass Holdings Limited, a company that wants to build a glass plant that would draw 1.6 million litres of water a day from wells not far from existing Nestlé operations?

With the Ontario government's survey closing on November 30, the answers to these questions may begin to unfold in December or early in 2019.

We should also be keeping watch on Ford government announcements that relate to water use, notably gravel pits, mining, and even fracking.

For more on this, please read Doreen Nicoll's rabble.ca blog, "Ontario should extend moratorium on new permits to take groundwater for bottling" and Emma Lui's blog, "Nestlé still pumping after Ontario water permit expired two years ago."

Brent Patterson is a political activist and writer.

Photo by Brent Patterson

Help make rabble sustainable. Please consider supporting our work with a monthly donation. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.