Government of Canada and Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation) sign revised Framework Agreement for Mercury Care Home
July 26, 2021 — Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek Territory, Traditional Anishnaabe lands in the Treaty #3 area, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada
Today, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, Chief Randy Fobister and elected council of Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (ANA) met in community to sign an amendment to the Mercury Care Home Framework Agreement, which builds on the Government of Canada’s commitment to ensuring that ANA residents who are living with methylmercury poisoning receive the care they need while staying closer to home, community and family.
On April 2, 2020, Canada and ANA signed the Mercury Care Home Framework Agreement virtually because of pandemic restrictions. The framework agreement committed Canada to providing $19.5 million for the detailed design and construction of a mercury care home.
Today’s amendment includes a commitment of $68.9 million to fund the operations, maintenance and specialized service delivery of the mercury care home in the community, along with a periodic funding review that may be required to fulfill the goals of the mercury care home. The mercury care home will offer specialized care to residents to address their unique health care needs, as well as supported living for those who require it.
The construction and operation of a mercury care facility in ANA will make it possible to increase community-based services to support residents’ care needs.
Additionally, the Government of Canada has committed funding for a new water treatment facility in ANA through the 2020 Fall Economic Statement. A feasibility study, completed by the First Nation in December 2020, recommended the design and construction of a new water treatment plant and upgrades to the existing distribution system. Indigenous Services Canada has approved $1.1 million to support the detailed design phase of the project and is working in partnership with ANA to advance the project to ensure the system has the capacity to meet the water production requirements of the mercury care home and the continued growth of Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek.
“I am honoured to have had the opportunity to meet with Chief Randy Fobister in Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek to reinforce the commitments that Canada has made to the community and its leadership; acknowledge the recommendations of its Community Health Assessment Report; support the construction, operation, maintenance and specialized service delivery of a mercury care home; and ensure that the immediate and long-term health needs of the community are met.”
The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services
Methylmercury contamination in the English-Wabigoonriver system, discovered in 1970, caused very high exposure among people residing in ANA and WIN. This resulted in the negotiation and signing of a Memorandum of Agreement in November 1985. The agreement was supported by the passage of the federal Grassy Narrows and Islington Indian Bands Mercury Pollution Claims Settlement Act and the Ontario English and Wabigoon River Systems Mercury Contamination Settlement Agreement Act in 1986. These Acts provided for the establishment of a Mercury Disability Fund and a Mercury Disability Board to oversee the administration of the trust fund for benefits paid to claimants showing symptoms of mercury exposure.
The federal government and Ontario provincial government, together with two pulp and paper mill companies (Reed Limited and Great Lakes Forest Products Ltd), paid a total of $16.67 million in a one-time compensation payment to WIN and ANA.
In 2018, ANA completed a feasibility study for the mercury care home and released the results of the Community Health Assessment Report, which was conducted between December 2016 and March 2017. The plan, study and report have been vital in demonstrating the complex health needs of the community and in supporting the need for a mercury care home that offers specialized services.
The range of federally and provincially funded programs and services that are expected to be provided in the facility will be determined following the negotiation and development of a Detailed Services Plan with the community, including their newly hired Director of Care, and the Government of Ontario, through the established Mercury Care Working Group.
Through the Fall Economic Statement 2020, the Government of Canada proposed $200.1 million for the construction and operation of mercury care facilities in both ANA and the neighbouring community, Wabaseemoong Independent Nations. The investment also includes funding for a new water treatment facility in ANA to ensure the system has the capacity to meet the water consumption needs of the community.
- The Government of Canada and Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation) sign a framework agreement to build a mercury care home
- Asubpeechoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation) ends all long term drinking water advisories to provide safe and clean drinking water for all residents
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services
Indigenous Services Canada
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