In question period on Tuesday, NDP Environment critic Peter Tabuns called on the Wynne government to finally listen to the people of Grassy Narrows First Nation and immediately commit to building and operating a mercury care health facility.
“The chief of the Grassy Narrows First Nation is in the legislature today asking that the province contribute to building and operating a health facility for the people of Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong First Nations,” said Tabuns. “The province has known for decades that mercury is present on the paper mill site and that mercury contamination was not decreasing in the English-Wabigoon river system. Last September, ministers in the Liberal government were informed that mercury contamination continued on the site even though the premier continued to say that any cleanup would cause more risk to the population.
“As many as 90 per cent of the people in these communities show signs of mercury contamination and have been abandoned to their fate.”
A 2016 report revealed that the province has long known that Grassy Narrows First Nation and Wabaseemoong First Nation are still at risk of mercury contamination from the Wabigoon River — but the Wynne Liberals buried the report for over a year. People in these communities now want treatment for mercury poising available closer to home and are calling on the province to build and operate a specialized mercury treatment centre immediately.
“Pain is a constant reality for people with mercury poisoning,” said Tabuns. “Lack of control, tunnel vision and other symptoms make life very difficult. The Japanese long ago provided special health care for mercury poisoned people in the city of Minamata.”
“Will the premier today commit to making funds available for the establishment and operation of a mercury care health facility in this community now?” asked Tabuns.