Thursday, NDP Leader and Critic for First Nations and Métis Relations Ryan Meili, joined by the MLA for Athabasca Buckley Belanger and Northern Affairs Critic Doyle Vermette, pressed the province to take urgent action to stop the COVID-19 outbreak in La Loche and Patuanak, and provide emergency funding support for Northern municipalities.
“The province needs to step up with real, tangible support for Northern communities to address this outbreak,” said Meili. “If they’re truly hearing the frustration the mayors of these communities are voicing and the measures they are calling for, they would be doing more. What little they’ve done so far isn’t enough – Northern leaders need to be actively involved in developing and implementing our province’s COVID-19 response.”
Specifically, Meili called on the government to immediately take the following emergency measures:
- Provide the requested $10 million in emergency funding to northern municipalities;
- Implement COVID-19 testing for every resident of La Loche, Clearwater River Dene Nation, Patuanak, and English River Dene Nation; and for everyone who is being advised to self-monitor because of visits to the Beauval General Store;
- Establish field hospital capacity in La Loche for COVID-19 patients;
- Work in collaboration with municipal leaders, First Nations, and the Métis Nation on a plan to stop the further spread of COVID-19 in the North, including supporting efforts to control travel into the North and between communities in the Northwest;
- Introduce a plan to ensure all residents in the North have access to affordable and nutritious food.
“Every day I hear more frustration in the voices of our northern leaders as the outbreak grows and we wait for the resources we need,” said NDP MLA for Athabasca Buckley Belanger. “Where is the provincial government in our fight to contain this virus in our communities?”
“Our northern communities have been asking for support to prepare for this outbreak since the beginning. Instead, they’ve been left waiting for the resources they need,” said Cumberland MLA and Northern Affairs Critic Doyle Vermette. “We’re calling on the province to step up for Northern people.”