Essex MP Calls Situation in Attawapiskat 'Unacceptable'


New Democrats are calling on Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O'Regan to visit Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario. 

Tracey Ramsey joined fellow MP Charlie Angus in visiting his riding to see the hardships caused by a serious water issue in the community.

The Essex MP attended a public meeting and met with hunger strikers and families whose children are being directly impacted by the chemical contamination in the water.

Ramsey tells CTV News the conditions she witnessed are unacceptable.

"People who have who have to walk to get water that they can drink but now they can't even bath or use the water in their homes at all," says Ramsey. "I saw children that are covered in soars and scabs because they have no access to clean water to be able to bathe."

She adds the situation wouldn't have dragged out this long if it was happening in Essex County.

"If this was happening in one of my communities there would be an outcry, the Prime Minister would come, the minister would come. What's happening in Attawapiskat ... is absolutely unconscionable and should not be allowed to continue, "she says. "The minister needs to go there immediately."

Ramsey says the government needs to pony up the $15-million needed to replace the infrastructure.

"The Liberal Government spent $12-million giving fridges to Loblaw's, certainly the money is there. Why do they continue to cherry pick, band aid, and throw a little bit of money at the community just to get it through until they declare their next emergency," says Ramsey.

The NDP is calling on O'Regan to show up in to the community and explain why his government is unwilling to ensure safe drinking water for the families of Attawapiskat - despite sitting on a full report outlining the situation.

O'Regan's office says addressing the water issue in full partnership with the First Nation is a top priority. 

Ramsey says he has yet to set foot in Attawapiskat.