OTTAWA — Grassy Narrows Chief Simon Fobister says the federal government has committed to funding a treatment centre for his Ontario community plagued by mercury contamination.
Fobister says Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott delivered the news during a meeting in Toronto recently.
The chief calls the commitment a “dream come true,” adding residents affected by the serious impacts of mercury contamination will not have to travel to centres like Winnipeg or Kenora, Ont. to receive care.
Mercury contamination has plagued the English-Wabigoon River system in northwestern Ontario for half a century, since a paper mill in Dryden, Ont., dumped 9,000 kilograms of the substance into the river systems in the 1960s.
The symptoms of mercury poisoning include impaired peripheral vision, muscle weakness, impaired speech, hearing and cognitive function and numbness or stinging pain in the extremities and mouth.
Fobister says a feasibility study needs to be completed to determine the cost of the facility but the community believes it will be around $4.5 million.