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Solutions not stopgaps for Attawapiskat, Gélinas says

Remote community needs long-term health care solutions, Nickel Belt MPP argues
Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas says remote communities like Attawapiskat First Nation need long-term health solutions to fix the myriad health problems faced people living in isolated areas. File photo

Calling the situation “a crisis,” Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas has said people living in remote First Nations communities need long-term solutions to their health-care challenges.

The NDP’s critic for Aboriginal Affairs, Gélinas, called for long-term health commitment from the Liberal government for the First Nations people of the James Bay coast, including Attawapiskat. 

“We have a crisis, and time is of essence,” said Gélinas, MPP for Nickel Belt. “The First Nations people of the coast need long-term commitments from this provincial government and they want it today.”

As an example, Gélinas cited the lack of mental health workers for children under the age of 18.

“The people of the James Bay coast, including Attawapiskat, are served by WAHA, Weeneebayko Area Health Authority, which relies on the province and the North East LHIN for more than half of its budget, because the province has a direct responsibility to ensure that health care services are accessible to the First Nations people living along the James Bay coast,” said Gélinas. 

“Did you know that there are only six mental health workers for the entire coast, and that none of them serve children under the age of 18?”

Gélinas said there are other health service gaps that the province should fill immediately, citing hospital jobs left unfilled as facilities struggle to balance budgets.

“There are plans for layoffs at hospitals up the coast. The government should step up and stop those layoffs, not wait,” said Gélinas.