Ottawa’s funding offer for mercury care home in Grassy Narrows far less than needed, chief says

Rudy Turtle, chief of the Grassy Narrows First Nation, seen here in a May 28, 2018 file photo.

Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan has said the government is committed to building a care home to help the sickest of those impacted by the industrial mercury poisoning of Grassy Narrows First Nation.

The money is “booked” and “approved,” and the funding agreement the government wants the Indigenous community’s leaders to sign is “for keeps” and “legally binding,” he told CBC in June, adding that Chief Rudy Turtle will have “certainty … of our commitment financially.”

After reading the proposed funding agreement, Turtle said he does not have that certainty. The document, he said, is “the opposite of what O’Regan promised me and what he is telling the public.”

A draft of the proposed agreement obtained by the Star says Ottawa will contribute $10.5 million — far less than the total cost to build, according to a feasibility study — and that Ottawa can walk away from the deal for any reason with 60-days notice.

The draft also says the government may increase or decrease funding “based on approval of proposals or submissions from Grassy Narrows” and that ongoing funding for the construction of the home is dependent on annual approvals by Parliament. MORE