Ontario NDP leader says province should pay for services on reserve and send Ottawa the bill

The leader of Ontario’s NDP party says she’s going to push the province to pay to fix water issues on First Nation communities and then send Ottawa the bill.

Andrea Horwath made the comments while on a tour of three communities in northern Ontario.

“And if some of the costs of those fixes need to come from the federal government, then fix the problems and send the bill to Ottawa,” she said. “But fix the problems first and foremost. Fix the problems so that the inter-generational trauma the communities are facing can start to be resolved. ”

Horwath says finding solutions for First Nations in northern Ontario is not rocket science.

“These challenges should have been dealt with over many, many years ago and unfortunately we continue to see the blame game and the real solutions not being implemented,” she said.

“A lot of talk, not enough action.”

Horwath took to the skies to visit three fly in communities with local NDP member of provincial parliament Sol Mamakwa.

In Neskantaga First Nation, the duo toured the community’s new water treatment plant which is under construction.

Last winter, Neskanta fired the contractor for being behind schedule.

The community has been under a boil water advisory for 25 years and the plant was supposed to be completed months ago.

But Chief Chris Moonias said even when the plant is finished and they have clean water coming out of the taps, the long terms effects will still be felt.

“Well it’s going to be hard even after when it’s commissioned, right?,” he said. “It’s going to be hard to even trust the water, right?”

Horwath said the federal and provincial governments have an obligation to ensure First Nations have water treatment plants that last.

“And it’s to the point of course now where there’s an entire generation that has no trust or confidence whatsoever, that turning on a tap whether that be here in the community or whether that be somewhere like Thunder Bay, that the water that’s coming out is going to be safe,” said Horwath.

Horwath and Mamakwa also visited Kingfisher Lake and Attawapiskat.

“We’re going to put down in writing what we’ve heard, make sure it reflects what we, that what was spoken reflects what we thought we heard,” she said. “We always have to check back to make sure that we’re respectful and we’re not interpreting something the wrong way.”

Horwath said she’ll be pushing the government of Doug Ford, and the federal government to fix the issues the chiefs identified.

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