The Government of Canada has committed $68.9 million to run the Mercury Care Home in Grassy Narrows First Nation.
The funds will be used for the long-term costs of providing care and services at the 22-bed facility, which is expected to open in 2023.
“This is a big milestone for my people on our path to gaining dignified care for our people and full mercury justice. I honour our many community members who worked for decades to make this happen against all odds,” said Chief Randy Fobister of Grassy Narrows First Nation, in a prepared release.
The care home will also provide out-patient services for Grassy Narrows members who are suffering from multiple facets of mercury poisoning.
The binding agreement signed yesterday between the Crown and the First Nation commits $68.9 million, in an up-front lump sum that can be put in a secure trust, that will be used to fund the long-term services, operations, and maintenance costs of the facility.
The agreement also provides the First Nation with avenues to access more funds for the operation of the care home. The $68.9 million commitment was based on a 2018 Feasibility Study.
It also commits Canada to support a long list of services at the Mercury Care Home including nurses, personal support workers, traditional healers, rehabilitation, and palliative care.
“Minister Miller [the Federal Minister of Indigenous Services] has promised Grassy Narrows that Canada will be there as a partner to make sure that our loved ones who are suffering from mercury poisoning will get the good care that they need at the Mercury Care Home for as long as they need it," continued Chief Fobister in the prepared release.
"I respect Minister Miller for taking this important step today toward keeping his word. We expect Canada to continue to honour this sacred promise, and we will make sure of that. Our work is not done. There is still much more that needs to be done to restore the damage that mercury has done to our community.”
Preparations for the Mercury Care Home are underway and Grassy Narrows plans for construction begin in Spring of 2022, and for the facility to open in 2023.
In April of 2020, the Government of Canada signed an agreement with the First Nation to build a $19.5 million Mercury Care Home in the community.