Assembly of First Nations Tells House of Commons Committee about Dange...
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ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS
Transmitted by CNW Group on : Feburary 10, 2005 15:45
Assembly of First Nations Tells House of Commons Committee about Dangers of Asbestos-laden Vermiculite Insulation in Reserve Housing
OTTAWA, Feb. 10 /CNW Telbec/ - On behalf of the Assembly of First Nations
and his community, Chief Lance Haymond of Eagle Village First Nation today
made a presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Aboriginal
Affairs and Northern Development detailing the dangers of the asbestos-laden
vermiculite insulation used in hundreds of on-reserve houses.
Chief Haymond discussed the dangers of vermiculite and the urgent need
for a swift response to deal with a crisis that expands well-beyond the scope
of earlier Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) estimates.
Chief Haymond pointed out that an INAC search "identified 28 homes in the
Quebec Region with possible Vermiculite contamination and zero in Eagle
Village, (but) Eagle Village underwent its own self-identification process and
identified 17 homes with Vermiculite contamination." Indian and Northern
Affairs Canada have stated that 597 homes nationally are contaminated by
Chief Haymond also detailed Eagle Village's response to their vermiculite
"We completed a study on removal and chose to train our own people,
creating the in-house capacity to provide remediation services," said Chief
Haymond. "However, this is not an option for many communities, due to a lack
of appropriate resources."
Given the state of much on-reserve housing, Chief Haymond said the
federal government's statement that "the insulation will not pose a risk if
left undisturbed" is inadequate.
"This recommendation assumes that the housing unit is... in an average
state of maintenance," said Chief Haymond. "The Auditor General's Report noted
that, of the entire First Nations housing stock, 44% requires renovation. To
say 'do not disturb the insulation' is not adequate."
Chief Haymond pointed out that AFN estimates for a National Vermiculite
Remediation Program would require a one-time investment of $9 million. In
addition, Chief Haymond called on the Standing Committee to support funding to
address the critical shortfalls in on-reserve housing highlighted by the
vermiculite crisis, as well as support for the development of First Nations-
led housing programs and authorities, as detailed in the AFN's Pre-Budget
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine stated that
improving housing and creating new units to deal with the massive shortfall on-
reserve are urgent priorities for First Nations and the AFN.
"In light of the long-standing condition of First Nations housing and the
information about asbestos-laden insulation, it is not going too far to say
that this is literally a life and death issue," said National Chief Fontaine.
"We need to see a commitment immediately in the upcoming federal budget to
address this issue, as well as working together to support First Nations
taking control over local housing issues. This means we need resources to
cover the management and administration of a Housing Program under the
direction of regional First Nations organizations, Tribal Councils, bands and
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing
First Nations citizens in Canada.
/For further information: Don Kelly, AFN Communications Director,
(613) 241-6789, ext. 320 or cell.: (613) 292-2787; Ian McLeod, AFN Bilingual
Communications Officer, (613) 241-6789, ext. 336 or cell.: (613) 859-4335;
Nancy Pine, Communications Advisor, Office of the National Chief,
(613) 241-6789, ext. 243 or cell.: (613) 298-6382/
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