QUEEN’S PARK – The Ford government must consult with First Nations before reopening the North in order to ensure the safety of communities vulnerable to a resurgence of Covid-19, said Sol Mamakwa, the NDP’s Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation critic during question period on Tuesday.
“First Nations across Kiiwetinoong have been doing everything possible to keep COVID-19 out of our communities,” said Mamakwa. “They have gone to great lengths to keep communities safe such as implementing strict lockdowns and travel restrictions.
“But this government needs to do more to remedy the issues that make First Nations people more vulnerable to COVID-19 in the first place- such as overcrowded housing and the lack of hospitals.
“How has this government been working with First Nations on dealing with this pandemic?”
Mamakwa said the current situation poses a risk to the health of First Nations communities that is higher than the risks faced by most people in Ontario. He said the Ford government must listen to First Nations to be prepared for a second wave of the virus that could infect northern communities.
“Agencies and leadership in the North have a great deal of advice that this government needs to listen to, on how and when the North should be reopened,” said Mamakwa. “Once the North is opened up again, a second wave of coronavirus could spread to First Nations across the North.
“What is your government doing to listen to and support communities in planning for that possibility?”