Kiiwetinoong MPP and Deputy Leader of the NDP, Sol Mamakwa, is continuing to fight for seniors in northwestern Ontario to stay closer to home – calling Ontario’s Bill 7 another form of colonization.
During Question Period at Queen’s Park, Mamakwa explains that in late September, Sioux Lookout Council members unanimously passed a resolution to support a petition to the Ontario government to suspend Bill 7 within the Sioux Lookout area.
Bill 7, the More Beds, Better Care Act could force hospital patients waiting to get into a long-term care home into other homes elsewhere in Ontario, to help free up hospital beds across the province. The controversial piece of legislation was passed without public input or the opposition’s support in August.
“The reality is that this bill does not work for the people served by the healthcare system in the Sioux Lookout area,” says Mamakwa. “In a First Nation country, Bill 7 is colonial. I ask this government to stop your colonizing ways.”
Mamakwa is calling on the government to sit down with healthcare providers and Indian Residential School survivors about their concerns with the bill, just as he did earlier this month.
“They say that Bill 7 traumatizes residential institution survivors again,” explains Mamakwa. “Survivors will again be moved forcefully because of a lack of long-term care facilities in our communities. They do not want to be forced to spend their last years far away from home.”
In response, Ontario’s Minister of Long-Term Care, Paul Calandra, says the province has worked diligently to invest over $13 billion in long-term care projects across the province, including a recently-announced new seniors housing build in Kenora.
“Bill 7 helps ensure better care for people closer to home. It’s in our best interest to ensure that people in the hospital receive the best quality of care possible,” says Calandra.
His Parliamentary Assistant adds the government will continue to work collaboratively with Indigenous partners, noting Ontario Health Teams in the region have First Nations leadership to help guide them.
Mamakwa has repeatedly spoken about the need for more long-term care beds and healthcare resources in the north, especially as his Kiiwetinoong riding is primarily made-up of fly-in communities with little access to additional supports.
With an estimated 30,000 people between the Sioux Lookout community and about 30 First Nation communities who receive healthcare services in their area, Sioux Lookout’s lowly 20 long-term care beds only leaves 1 bed for every 1,500 residents or so.
Mamakwa’s also brought up the PC’s ‘broken promise’ to the Sioux Lookout community and Sioux Lookout’s Meno Ya Win Health Centre, as 76 long-term care beds were promised to the hospital over four years ago and work still has not started to create them. It was a 2018 election promise made by Premier Doug Ford.