Grassy Narrows First Nation hails $90M for care home as a step toward ‘full mercury justice’
By Kieran LeavittEdmonton BureauMon., July 26, 2021timer3 min. readupdateArticle was updated 7 hrs ago
The Grassy Narrows First Nation took a step forward in its decades-long fight for justice Monday, as the federal government agreed to provide $90 million for a care home that will treat those poisoned by mercury.
The long-awaited deal includes $68.9 million in a trust for operational and servicing costs over 30 years, and an agreement to periodically review the funding levels. Ottawa had previously agreed to provide $19.5 million for construction costs of the facility.
Chief Randy Fobister, who inked the deal with Services Minister Marc Miller on Monday, said challenges remain for the community but in a statement he called the agreement a “milestone” and said it represented progress toward “full mercury justice.”
“I respect Minister Miller for taking this important step today toward keeping his word,” he said. “We expect Canada to continue to honour this sacred promise, and we will make sure of that.”
The pollution blamed for the mercury poisoning began in the 1960s, when the Dryden pulp and paper mill, operated by Reed Paper, dumped 10 tonnes of mercury into the Wabigoon River upstream of Grassy Narrows in northern Ontario.
Over the past three years, the Star and scientists have revealed that fish near Grassy Narrows remain the most contaminated in the province; that there are mercury-contaminated soil and river sediments at or near the site of the old mill; and that the provincial government knew in the 1990s that mercury was visible in soil under that site and never told anyone in Grassy Narrows or nearby Wabaseemoong (Whitedog) Independent Nations. Scientists strongly suspect that old mercury still contaminates the mill site and pollutes the river.
The effects of mercury poisoning can be lifelong. It is known to cause slurred speech, tunnel vision and tremors. Some have said there’s never been true recognition from the government of the damage caused to the community.
For years, Grassy Narrows has been pushing for money from the federal government so that it could build and operate a care home for those who have been poisoned. The community has also been demanding financial compensation for those suffering. To date, about 14 per cent of Grassy Narrows members have received compensation, according to the community.
Late July, and the Bloom’s efforts are in fully display in planters, flower boxes and municipal gardens. The 2nd year of the garden at the Spring has exploded in the past couple of weeks with flowers attracting dozens of pollinators. The beauty of the window boxes at the Museum, with their simple gardens of coleus, never fail to make me smile.
Thank you on behalf of those of us who live, work and visit Westport.
MEDIA RELEASE: Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit
July 23, 2021
As of today, the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit tops the charts amongst public health units for both first and second dose vaccination rates throughout the province. Of the region’s population 12 years of age and over, 88% have first doses and 71% have second doses. The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit is also the first health unit in Ontario to achieve 70% of its population with second doses.
“Our government has been clear, nothing will stop us from having the most successful immunization campaign in the country”, said MPP Steve Clark. “And I couldn’t be more proud that this area is leading the way, demonstrating people’s willingness to be vaccinated and our complete healthcare system’s ability to distribute and administer those vaccines efficiently. I’m grateful for all of our frontline healthcare workers.”
Dr. Paula Stewart, Medical Officer of Health for the region, says she attributes this success to a number of factors.
“The people of LGL have been fantastic! This is wonderful for our community. So many people now have really good COVID-19 protection. And the work continues to reach 90% first and 90% second or higher. This success is a result of great collaboration with all of our partners. Thanks to our staff who have been on the front lines at the vaccine clinics, on the phones or working on supportive roles. Thanks also to the staff who have been doing other COVID related or essential service work that allows the rest to focus on the vaccine program.”
We definitely aren’t done….
There are still many opportunities to get both first and second doses. We have plenty of both Pfizer and Moderna vaccine available at all clinics. if it has been 21 days since you had your first dose of Pfizer or 28 days since your first dose of Moderna, you are able to book your second dose or walk-in at any clinic before the end of August (see dates and times here).
TORONTO — With key public health and health care indicators continuing to improve and the provincewide vaccination rate surpassing the targets outlined in the province’s Roadmap to Reopen, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health the Ontario government is moving the province into Step Three of the Roadmap to Reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 16, 2021.
“Thanks to the tireless efforts of our frontline heroes, and the ongoing commitment of Ontarians to get vaccinated, we have surpassed the targets we set in order to enter Step Three of our Roadmap,” said Premier Doug Ford. “While this is welcome news for everyone who wants a return to normal, we will not slow down our efforts to fully vaccinate everyone who wants to be and put this pandemic behind us once and for all.”
In order to enter Step Three of the Roadmap, Ontario needed to have vaccinated 70 to 80 per cent of individuals 18 years of age or older with one dose and 25 per cent with two doses for at least two weeks, ensuring a stronger level of protection against COVID-19. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Ontario’s health care partners, as of July 8, 2021, over 77 per cent of the population in Ontario ages 12 and over have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and over 50 per cent have received their second dose. More than 16.6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered provincewide.
The province also needed to see continued improvement in other key public health and health care indicators, including hospitalizations, ICU occupancy and the weekly cases incidence rates. After entering Step Two, during the period of June 29 to July 5, 2021, the provincial case rate decreased by 23.3 per cent. As of July 8, the number of patients with COVID-19 in ICUs is 202, including three patients from Manitoba, as compared to 286 two weeks ago. The province expects these positive trends to continue over the coming days before entering Step Three.
“Ontario has continued to see improvements in key health indicators, allowing the province to move to Step Three of the Roadmap and safely resume more of the activities we’ve missed,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “While this is exciting news, we most still remain vigilant and continue to follow the public health measure we know work and keep us safe. Vaccines remain our ticket out of the pandemic so if you haven’t booked your appointment yet, please do so today.”
Step Three of the Roadmap focuses on the resumption of additional indoor services with larger numbers of people and restrictions in place. This includes, but is not limited to:
Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 100 people with limited exceptions;
Indoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 25 people;
Indoor religious services, rites or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services permitted with physical distancing;
Indoor dining permitted with no limits on the number of patrons per table with physical distancing and other restrictions still in effect;
Indoor sports and recreational fitness facilities to open subject to a maximum 50 per cent capacity of the indoor space. Capacity for indoor spectators is 50 per cent of the usual seating capacity or 1,000 people, whichever is less. Capacity for outdoor spectators is 75 per cent of the usual seating capacity or 15,000 people, whichever is less;
Indoor meeting and event spaces permitted to operate with physical distancing and other restrictions still in effect and capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity or 1,000 people, (whichever is less);
Essential and non-essential retail with with capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres;
Personal care services, including services requiring the removal of a face covering, with capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres;
Museums, galleries, historic sites, aquariums, zoos, landmarks, botanical gardens, science centres, casinos/bingo halls, amusement parks, fairs and rural exhibitions, festivals, with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors;
Concert venues, cinemas, and theatres permitted to operate at:
up to 50 per cent capacity indoors or a maximum limit of 1,000 people for seated events (whichever is less)
up to 75 per cent capacity outdoors or a maximum limit of 5,000 people for unseated events (whichever is less); and up to 75 per cent capacity outdoors or a maximum of 15,000 people for events with fixed seating (whichever is less).
Real estate open houses with capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres; and
Indoor food or drink establishments where dance facilities are provided, including nightclubs and restobars, permitted up to 25 per cent capacity or up to a maximum limit of 250 people (whichever is less).
Face coverings in indoor public settings and physical distancing requirements remain in place throughout Step Three. This is in alignment with the advice on personal public health measures issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada, while also accounting for Ontario specific information and requirements. Face coverings will also be required in some outdoor public settings as well.
“Thanks to the continued efforts of Ontarians adhering to public health measures and advice, as well as going out to get vaccinated, we have seen most key health indicators continue to improve,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “However, the pandemic is not over and we must all remain vigilant and continue following the measures and advice in place, as the Delta variant continues to pose a threat to public health.”
The province will remain in Step Three of the Roadmap for at least 21 days and until 80 per cent of the eligible population aged 12 and over has received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 75 per cent have received their second, with no public health unit having less than 70 per cent of their population fully vaccinated. Other key public health and health care indicators must also continue to remain stable. Upon meeting these thresholds, the vast majority of public health and workplace safety measures, including capacity limits for indoor and outdoor settings and limits for social gatherings, will be lifted. Only a small number of measures will remain in place, including the requirement for passive screening, such as posting a sign, and businesses requiring a safety plan.
Ontario’s epidemiological situation is distinct from other jurisdictions and the Delta variant is the dominant strain in Ontario, which is not the case with some other provinces. As a result, on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, face coverings will also continue to be required for indoor public settings. The Chief Medical Officer of Health will continue to evaluate this need on an ongoing basis
RoseAnne Archibald of Ontario has made history today when after five rounds of ballot votes, she was elected National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. She is the first woman to be elected by the Chiefs to this important influential position. Chief Archibald is a very determined, intelligent, courageous person who I met in 2007 and have been a little in awe of ever since.
Chief Archibald’s election comes days after PM Trudeau recommended to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to appoint the first Indigenous Governor General, Mary Simon.
What an incredible week for Indigenous Women Leaders. Hooray!