Sol Mamakwa is pushing the government to ensure an adequate supply of pain and fever medication reaches youth in the far north.
Health Canada says it's importing a foreign supply of medication for children in the coming weeks, following a month-long shortage of Tylenol, Advil and other brands due to a ‘triple-threat’ of RSV, the flu and COVID-19 that’s continuing to circulate throughout the province.
Mamakwa, Kiiwetinoong’s MPP and the NDP’s Indigenous Relations Critic and Deputy Leader, explains that leaders with the Nishnawbe Aski Nation are joining other parents across the province in taking a trip to the United States to bring back what they can for youth in the north.
“This government cannot ensure supply. The thought of losing any of our children because we don’t have basic medication available, is intolerable,” said Mamakwa, during Question Period at Queen’s Park.
Mamakwa then pushed the government to work with NAN to ensure they receive more supplies soon. He notes youth in the far north are already at risk, as many First Nation communities already don’t have adequate access to healthcare services.
In response, Ontario’s Minister of Health, Sylvia Jones, says she has met with NAN Grand Chief Derek Fox about the issue, but went on to put the blame at the feet of the federal government.
“I have received assurances from Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos. Frankly, I wish that he had acted sooner,” said Jones. “The barrier that we have seen that is preventing children’s medication to be imported into Canada is disturbing. We should have had a short-term solution.”
Jones explains that Canada could have had a supply of medication already, but the federal government had required all packaging to include both English and French languages – causing them to turn down shipments. Now, that requirement is being bypassed by Ottawa due to the growing demand.
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, says children under the age of five are most at-risk due to the illnesses in the province and is strongly recommending the use of masks in all indoor public settings for the foreseeable future – with possible mask mandates coming.