Premier Wynne must commit to safe drinking water for people in 90 First Nations communities: NDP

During Question Period today, France Gélinas, the Ontario NDP’s Aboriginal Affairs critic, demanded to know when the Premier was going to ensure safe drinking water for Ontario’s First Nations people.

“Here in Ontario in 2016, First Nations children are sick because of untreated water,” Gélinas said.  “Does the Premier think that it is acceptable that, after 13 years of Liberal government, First Nation Ontarians in 90 communities still do not have safe drinking water?”

This morning, Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, told the Ontario legislature that 90 First Nations communities in Ontario do not have safe drinking water. In Kashechewan, it contributed to a rash of skin lesions for young children.

Gélinas told the Premier to stop waiting for the federal government and  take responsibility, and action, to begin ensuring that all First Nations people in Ontario have access to safe drinking water.

“Water is a basic human right. The rest of us in Ontario, we take it for granted. But when I asked the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, I’m told that it is a federal responsibility. But you know what? Infrastructure needs in First Nations communities is an Ontario responsibility. We don’t need to pass the buck on that one,” Gélinas said.

“I would like the Premier to tell this House when will First Nation Ontarians, living in 90 First Nation communities—communities like Curve Lake, like Pikangikum, like Shoal Lake 40, like Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug—have safe drinking water?”