Glass half full or half empty: Canadians confident in their tap water, but do they care?


TORONTO, March 18, 2015 –  As seasons begin to shift, we are reminded of how drinking a glass of water to cool off on a hot summer day or hydrating with tap water before heading off on a hike can quench our thirst and replenish our bodies. The quality of that water is second only to hospitals in terms of what Canadians want their taxes to fund, ahead of roads, schools and public transit.

This is just one of the findings from the 8th annual RBC Canadian Water Attitudes Study, supported by the RBC Blue Water Project, which also shows concern for protecting the water supply has led to very high ratings for municipal drinking water quality, with 73 per cent of Canadians being confident in their local tap water. However, as confidence has risen, the value that Canadians put on their clean drinking water has slipped.

The RBC Canadian Water Attitudes Study showed that:

  • 70 per cent of Canadians know the cost of their electricity while only 39 per cent know how much money their household spends on water.
  • 63 per cent either don’t have or don’t know if they have a water meter in their home.
  • A quarter of Canadians (25 per cent) don’t care where their water comes from, as long as it tastes good

The results show that although public concern for water funding is high, Canadians do not appreciate the value of their drinking water.

“Our obvious thirst for clean drinking water does not match our appreciation for what we have at our fingertips,” explained Bob Sandford, chair for Water Security at the United Nations Institute for Water, Environment and Health. “Canadians have one of the world’s best supplies of fresh water and being able to go to the tap to fill our glasses is something for which we all can be grateful.”

The results draw attention to a worrisome trend of indifference among young Canadians in particular, in their respect of clean drinking water. Although 90 per cent of Canadians aged 18 to 34 rely on a municipal water supply, they show the least concern for and trust of the quality of their tap water.

  • 18-to-34 year olds are most likely to feel that it is not their responsibility to protect drinking water sources (22 per cent, versus 14 per cent of Canadians over the age of 55)
  • They have the lowest confidence in the quality of their local tap water (67 per cent, versus 81 per cent of Canadians over the age of 55)
  • They are most likely to prefer to filter their tap water (44 per cent, versus 31 per cent of Canadians over 55) and think bottled water is safer than tap water (43 per cent, versus 20 per cent of Canadians over the age of 55)

The global context

Canada possesses nearly 6.5 per cent of the world’s supply of fresh water, making it one of the nation’s most valued treasures. Moreover, Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index shows that Canada has the second-best water-quality ranking among selected industrialized countries.

“Most Canadians have never experienced the fear that comes with losing confidence in their water supply,” says Sandford. “Those that have lived through a water-crisis, with boil water alerts and all that a crisis entails, can attest to a very real understanding of how much our water matters. It shouldn’t require an escalated event for Canadians to wake up and value this irreplaceable resource.”

World Water Day is Sunday, March 22. RBC urges Canadians to raise a glass of tap water in recognition of the crucial role that access to clean water plays in every aspect of their lives. For more information on the Canadian Water Attitudes Study and The RBC Blue Water Project visit

Additional Highlights:

  • Only 60 per cent of Canadians know where their drinking water comes from:
    • 78 per cent of Canadians over the age of 55 know where their drinking water comes from vs. 44 per cent of those aged 18-34
    • Atlantic Canadians are the most knowledgeable, at 77 per cent
    • Ontarians are the least knowledgeable, at 54 per cent
  • The long term supply of fresh water is a large concern for 28 per cent of Canadians
  • While 54 per cent of Canadians are aware of condition of their interior home water pipes, 64 per cent of Canadians are unaware of the system delivering water to their homes
  • Only 1-in-10 Canadians think water treatment, water delivery and storm water systems in their community requires major investment
    • 46 per cent of Canadians admit to having no knowledge of the condition of water treatment systems
    • 50 per cent of Canadians have no knowledge of the condition of storm water systems
  • Over a third of Canadians are willing to pay more taxes to upgrade infrastructure for drinking water (39 per cent) and treatment of wastewater/stormwater (34 per cent)
  • 48 per cent of Canadians are concerned about pollution of water systems due to agricultural runoff


About the 2015 RBC Canadian Water Attitudes Study
The 2015 Canadian Water Attitudes Study included an online survey administered by GlobeScan between January 5 and January 25, 2015. It included a sample of 2,242 Canadian adults from GMI’s Canadian panel. Weighting was employed to balance demographics, to ensure the sample’s composition reflects the adult population according to Canadian Census data, and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. Results were weighted by gender, age, region and community size. The sample included a minimum of 200 respondents in each of Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Vancouver and Winnipeg, and 300 in Toronto. The margin of error for a strict probability sample for a sample of this size (n=2,242) would be ±2.2 per cent 19 times out of 20.

About RBC Blue Water Project
The RBC Blue Water Project is a historic, wide-ranging, 10-year global commitment to help protect the world’s most precious natural resource: fresh water. Since 2007, RBC has pledged nearly $41 million to more than 700 charitable organizations worldwide that protect water, with an additional $8.8 million pledged to universities for water programs. The RBC Blue Water Project is focused on supporting initiatives that help protect water in towns, cities and urbanized areas. For further information, visit

About the Author

Related Posts

Leave a Reply