Ontario offers support to Cat Lake but there’s no word on what it will be

The Cat Lake First Nation in northern Ontario says the province of Ontario has offered help with its mould issues – but not details outlining what kind of support is coming.

The community is dealing with dozens of homes containing mould.

Chief Matthew Keewaykapo says he has been in touch with Ontario’s Indigenous Services Minister Greg Rickford.

“He was going to work on something but didn’t say what it was,” Keewaykapo told APTN News.

Keewaykapo said he told Rickford that the community could use another 10 to 14 units to avoid an evacuation but no commitment yet.

“The province hasn’t offered any kind of assistance as of yet and haven’t done anything,” he said.

Cat Lake is located 600 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.

In an agreement worth $10 million reached with the federal government, it will be getting some news houses for families in mould infested homes.

But the province has yet to say what it will do to help.

On Monday, NDP MPP Sol Mamakwa called on the province to assist with the housing crisis.

“Last week this government claimed that it funded an infectious disease specialist to conduct a full medical assessment of the community and that additional nurses had been deployed to the community,” Mamakwa said in the legislature.

“I spoke with the chief, medical specialists were sent but by the Federal government and there are no additional nurses.”

In February, Cat Lake declared a state of emergency because of the mould.

“When a social emergency is declared the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs plays a coordinating role in efficiently responding to these emergencies,” said Finance Minister Victor Fedeli. “Speaker we do know that while the provision of housing on reserves remains the responsibility of the federal government we have reached out to the community to offer Ontario’s full support.”

The community is waiting to hear what form that support will come in.

More than 100 houses in Cat Lake were inspected late last year and in early January.

Mould in homes is believed to be the cause of severe health problems for many people in the community.

In February, NDP MP Charlie Angus went to cat late and immediately called for a full medical assessment of the community.

Indigenous services said it’s waiting for reports from epidemiology and respiratory specialists who were there last month.

Mamakwa said the province and Ottawa need to work together to make sure the community has access to medical specialists.

“Will this government stop playing games with the lives and health of children and families of Cat Lake and send up the emergency health team up to the community it so desperately needs now?” he asked.

The community is set to received materials to build 15 new homes, repair 21 existing homes and 10 portable housing units are to be installed while the winter road is still open.


Video Journalist / Thunder Bay

Willow is an Oji-Cree Anishinabe from Sandy Lake First Nation. Her background is in print journalism and she studied multimedia before entering broadcast news . She is passionate about the stories of the Anishinabe in northwestern Ontario, particularly in the remote north.