Cat Lake leaders consider evacuating community over housing crisis
Community declared state of emergency over mould last month
A Northern Ontario Indigenous community, frustrated over what it says is slow government response to its housing crisis, is considering an evacuation, community leaders said.
Cat Lake declared a state of emergency last month over black mould in its homes, which is causing serious health problems among residents.
"People in Cat Lake get sick non-stop," the community's Deputy Chief Abigail Wesley said during a media conference at Queen's Park on Friday. "Coughing, multiple pneumonia incidents, related kidney diseases and increased medical problems."
"Medevacs occur almost daily," she said. "As a matter of fact, we have almost 100 children needing assessment for serious health issues. The federal government continues to ignore, and demand more paperwork, proof, and study."
The homes also have other issues, including shifting foundations and electrical problems.
Wesley said the community is frustrated at the lack of response, since the state of emergency has been in effect for a month.
Preparing for evacuation
She also called on the province to take action, requesting Ontario Premier Doug Ford visit the community and see the conditions for himself.
Wesley said temporary housing is desperately needed in the community, but time is running out as Cat Lake is accessible by winter road.
"If this doesn't go through before the winter road is closed, we're going to have to wait another year," she said. "I want something done."
Community members are also preparing to evacuate the community, said Cat Lake councillor Joyce Cook.
"These homes are not suitable," she said.
Cat Lake is located about 600 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.