SIOUX LOOKOUT and KAPUSKASING - COVID-19 has broken through the lines of defence set up by First Nations, causing two northern communities to declare a state of emergency. Constance Lake and Ginoogaming need the Ford government to act now to help them to stop the spread, said NDP MPPs Sol Mamakwa (Kiiwetinoong), the NDP’s critic for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, and Guy Bourgouin (Mushkegowuk-James Bay).
“Doug Ford said his government was going to act weeks ago, yet today here we are with several First Nations struggling to contain the virus,” said Mamakwa. “First Nation families and communities have been doing absolutely everything they can to stop the spread of COVID-19, but Doug Ford’s failure to contain the virus in the rest of the province means COVID-19 has broken through community lines of defence.”
On Jan. 20, MPP Bourgouin wrote to the office of Doug Ford asking him for immediate provincial assistance to tackle an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Constance Lake First Nation.
Bourgouin is supporting the nation’s Chief and Council and is urging the Ford government to provide the following critical resources: A COVID-19-specific isolation site for residents that have tested positive of COVID-19 and are unable to stay in their homes; access to and delivery of COVID-19 rapid tests to get results quickly and efficiently; deployment of nurses and health care workers to help with quarantined members; personal protective equipment for health care workers and residents; and the active participation of the local Ontario Provincial Police to help with the local lockdown measures.
“Doug Ford must act now to focus his efforts in First Nations communities to prevent catastrophe as the chronic lack of health care, crowded housing conditions, lack of clean water, and isolation means Far North communities are especially vulnerable to outbreaks,” said Bourgouin.
“The people of Constance Lake and Ginoogaming need Ford’s help now. They cannot afford to wait for his continued delays on providing the resources they need to contain the virus.”