First Nations leaders in the Thunder Bay, Ont., area are calling on all levels of government to take action on the worrying spread of COVID-19 in northwestern Ontario.
Fort William First Nation Chief Peter Collins and Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler are requesting support as they say cases among vulnerable populations have overwhelmed local resources.
Outbreaks have been declared at correctional facilities, among the homeless population in Thunder Bay and at number of local schools.
The chiefs’ joint statement says there are inadequate resources for people released from correctional facilities who are being sent to isolate in Sioux Lookout, Thunder Bay and Timmins hotels.
Their call comes as Ontario’s cabinet is set to decide today whether to move the Thunder Bay area into lockdown.
The province’s top doctor said Thursday he has recommended a potential lockdown for the region to stop the virus from spreading into northern Indigenous communities with few health-care resources.
Fiddler said a lockdown across all of northwestern Ontario will be “painful but necessary” to avoid a regional crisis.
Thunder Bay Mayor Bill Mauro also called for help from the provincial and federal governments on Thursday.
He said the city does not have resources to meet the needs of its COVID-19 isolation centre which is “on the verge of failing.”
Ontario reported 1,258 new cases of COVID-19 Friday and 28 more deaths from the virus.
More than 64,000 tests were completed in Ontario since the last daily update.
A total of 643,765 doses of vaccine have been administered in the province so far.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021.