Canada

Harris apologizes for Walkerton comments

Ontario Premier Mike Harris apologized Wednesday for saying the town of Walkerton never applied for government funding to improve its water system.

The apology directed to the people of Ontario and specifically to the residents of Walkerton comes a day after news that nearly half the population of Walkerton got sick because of contaminated water from their wells.

It turns out Walkerton did apply for help and received $424,500 in funding from three levels of government. The town applied for infrastructure funding when the program began in 1994.

"My staff had given me wrong information about provincial-federal infrastructure," Harris said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Dr. Murray McQuigge, Walkerton's regional medical officer of health said water contaminated with E. coli made more than 2,000 people sick, twice as many as originally reported.

McQuigge also said many people continue to arrive at Walkerton's hospital with bloody diarrhea and other symptoms of E. coli infection.

The E. coli outbreak has killed at least seven people since mid-May. Four other deaths are being investigated.

McQuigge revealed investigators have narrowed the cause of the bacterial outbreak to seven possible sources. Those include several livestock farms that are uphill from two of the town's wells.

It will be another six weeks before the water in Walkerton is safe to drink.

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