Children are getting sick, our people are struggling – Neskantaga FN Chief Moonias

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Water crisis is making people sick and creating serious health issues in First Nations communities
Water crisis is making people sick and creating serious health issues in First Nations communities

Health Crisis Demonstrates Double Standard – Ontario Regional Chief Day

TORONTO – Problems across Northern Ontario communities with water continue. There are First Nation communities that live under boil water orders, and in some cases have been unable to access local safe drinking water for years.

Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day, Chair of the AFN Chiefs Committee on Health and the leaders from the Neskantaga First Nation called for immediate action at a press conference on Monday on this tragic health crisis and demand the federal candidates for Prime Minister outline their policy positions on First Nations health.

Ontario Regional Chief Day

“Children are getting sick, our people are struggling in third-world conditions and living daily with three bottles of water per household. The community has been under a water advisory for over 20 years. While Canada announces their billions in surplus, our community can’t access clean water. What is the priority here? Enough is enough,” said Neskantaga First Nation Chief Wayne Moonias.

“Now is the time to eliminate decades of inaction by successive federal governments on providing essential health services to First Nations. Every single day, our children, adults and Elders are suffering from entirely preventable diseases,” said Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day. “This has been ignored as a quiet crisis, killing our people and it must end now. Once Canadians are provided the details and statistics, they will be shamefully embarrassed and should be angry at the lack of political will to end this crisis.” 

Water crisis is making people sick and creating serious health issues in First Nations communities
Water crisis is making people sick and creating serious health issues in First Nations communities

The Chiefs of Ontario are issuing a call to action for the Federal candidates for Prime Minister to outline their policy positions on First Nations health. Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day is calling on the Federal Party Leaders to address the lack of clean and safe water in First Nations across Ontario.

The federal government’s underfunding of water services for First Nations reserves has created emergency situations across the country. As of this September, there were approximately 160 Drinking Water Advisories in effect in 116 First Nations communities across Canada, and 67 in Ontario alone. This is in addition to the 1880 homes in First Nations without water service at all.

“It is outrageous to think of how much wealth there is in Canada, yet at the same time thousands of First Nation people do not have access to clean, safe drinking water, a luxury most Canadians take for granted,” said Ontario Regional Chief Day. “We are hearing a lot of promises during this campaign. I want to know what party will be the first to promise 0% boil water advisory on all First Nations.”

“As the new national Health portfolio holder at the AFN, my number one priority in the months following the election is to work with the National Chief and my fellow committee members to secure sufficient health funding from the next federal government. Sufficient health funding means revisiting the failed 2005 Kelowna Accord commitment of a $1.3 billion dollar investment over five years to reduce infant mortality, youth suicide, diabetes, and obesity by 50 percent within 10 years. The next federal government must fast-track this investment over two years.

The time for empty rhetoric and broken promises made by successive governments must end now. Far too many of our Peoples are prisoners of poverty and despair. If politicians truly believe in fairness for all, then it’s time to make major investments that will benefit all Canadians.”

NAN Deputy Grand Chief Waboose

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