Thunder Bay

Cat Lake crisis a 'national disgrace': NDP MP

NDP MP Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay) is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to meet with leaders in Cat Lake as the northern community continues to struggle with a housing crisis.

Charlie Angus grills prime minister over community's housing issue during Question Period

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said representatives of the federal government were meeting with Cat Lake leaders on Wednesday as the community continues to struggle with a housing crisis. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

NDP MP Charlie Angus (Timmins —​ James Bay) is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to meet with leaders in Cat Lake as the northern community continues to struggle with a housing crisis.

The community declared a state of emergency earlier this month due to a number of issues with housing, including the presence of mould, leaking roofs, and structural problems.

In a heated exchange during Question Period at Parliament Hill on Wednesday, Angus grilled Trudeau over the federal government's response to the Cat Lake situation, comparing the crisis to a "slow-moving Katrina at –50 degrees."

"When children are being medevaced out to emergency wards in distant cities, we need a sense of urgency," Angus said. "So I ask the Prime Minister, will he agree that the situation in Cat Lake is a national disgrace, and will he commit that he will meet with the leaders to find a solution?"

Trudeau, in his response, didn't commit to a personal meeting.

"We are committed to working with Cat Lake on housing challenges," he said. "There is a meeting taking place [Wednesday] with community leadership. We are developing both an interim and a long-term plan of action."

Cat Lake is the 'tip of the iceberg'

"But we are, unlike what the member is saying, making significant progress in the community," Trudeau said. "We actually lifted the long-term drinking water advisory just this past December. But we know there's lots more to do, and that's why we are continuing to address the community issues in partnership, together."

Angus, in his response, said Trudeau is patting himself on the back, and that Cat Lake is just the "tip of the iceberg."

"There are communities across this country that are suffering from the mould crisis," Angus said.

Trudeau responded that the federal government has made "unprecedented investments" in Indigenous communities over the past three years, which have gone toward clean drinking water, housing, new schools, and health care.

"There is much more work to do," he said. "We will continue to invest, to grow, to work in partnership."

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