TORONTO, Nov. 23, 2011 /CNW/ - The living conditions some people in the
northern Ontario community of Attawapiskat are being forced to endure
are deplorable and dangerous to their health according to the
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO).
RNAO issued an open letter today to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier Dalton
McGuinty imploring them to intervene in what nurses describe as a
On Oct. 28, the chief of the First Nations community, Theresa Spence
asked that her community of more than 2,000 people be evacuated before
the onset of winter because lives, especially those of children and
elders, were at risk.
The Member of Parliament for the area, Charlie Angus, visited the
community and reported that five families were living in tents, while
another 19 families were living in sheds without running water. He also
noted that 35 families live in houses that require substantial repair
and another 128 families live in houses condemned from black mold and
failing infrastructure. Angus also observed overcrowding and a lack of
proper indoor plumbing and electricity.
"These conditions are deplorable and life-threatening. A lack of proper
water and sanitation is an invitation for disease and sickness. People
need warm, safe shelter to be healthy and First Nations people deserve
better," says RNAO president David McNeil, adding that "elected leaders
need to address immediately the emergency in Attawapiskat and other
First Nation communities."
Although the federal government has agreed to spend $500,000 to renovate
housing in Attawapiskat, Angus says the amount is only enough to repair
three or four houses.
"As a nurse and as a Canadian, I am ashamed that federal and provincial
officials are pointing fingers at each other and refusing to take
responsibility," says RNAO executive director Doris Grinspun, referring
to the lack of action since the state of emergency was declared at the
end of October.
Grinspun says the situation in Attawapiskat and other First Nations
communities is even more alarming given that National Housing Day was
marked on Nov. 22 and that Canada is the only major industrialized
country without a national housing program.
The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario is the professional
association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO
has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing
practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health-care
system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they
serve. For more information about RNAO, visit our website at www.rnao.org. You can also check out our Facebook page at www.rnao.org/facebook and follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/rnao.
SOURCE Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario
For further information:
To arrange an interview with a nurse or for more information, please contact:
Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO
Cell: 647-406-5605 / Office: 416-408-5605
Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext. 209