Housing crisis

Federal government ‘must act’ on First Nations housing crisis

Kenora MP Eric Melillo is calling on the federal government to provide immediate support to northern First Nations communities, which have long struggled with unsafe housing conditions.

“Crowding, poor ventilation, structural damage and mold are far too common in First Nations housing in northwestern Ontario,” Melillo told the House of Commons earlier this week.

“It’s something that Indigenous leaders and community residents have been saying for years. That is why Canada’s Conservatives are calling for immediate action to end this housing crisis.

Melillo’s comments come after a new study found that poor housing conditions in First Nations communities are directly linked to respiratory illnesses, increased risk of hospitalization and various health issues for First Nations families. Nations.

The study, Respiratory Morbidity in Aboriginal Children in Relation to Housing Conditions in Remote Communities of Northwestern Ontariowas released by the Canadian Medical Association on January 24.

The study documented indoor air quality and housing characteristics in four First Nations communities, including Lac Seul First Nation, Kasabonika Lake First Nation, Sandy Lake First Nation and Big Trout Lake.

The study found that one in four children had been evacuated for medical reasons and one in five had been hospitalized in the first two years of life. Large amounts of mold and bacterial residue were found in their homes.

In addition, more than 85% of the houses had no controlled ventilation, more than 50% had damaged windows, 44% had water infiltration in the exterior walls and 6% had immediate security problems.

Today, the study authors, Melillo and community members are all urging the federal government to improve housing and infrastructure in First Nations communities to support the health of their members.

“Today, I want to echo the calls to increase housing stock and improve existing First Nations homes, as well as calls to action on food insecurity, unsafe drinking water and the need to create economic opportunities on reserves,” adds Melillo. .

“Indigenous communities have been neglected and underfunded for far too long. The government must act now.

The 2021 Liberal budget provides $596 million over 3 years for new housing projects for First Nations communities on reserve, in addition to approximately $150 million annually to address housing needs.

The study was created in partnership with the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre, the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority, the CHEO Research Institute, the University of Ottawa and the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. It was funded by Health Canada and Indigenous Services Canada.

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