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Federal government, Cat Lake sign $12.8M agreement

Agreeement signed on Thursday commits to 15 new housing units, repair and renovation of 21 existing units and 10 new modular units to address housing crisis in Cat Lake First Nation.
Keewaykapow and O'Regan
Cat Lake First Nation Chief Matthew Keewaykapow (left) and Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O'Regan speak during a news conference in Thunder Bay on Thursday, February 21, 2019. (Matt Vis,

Cat Lake First Nation and the federal government have finalized a memorandum of agreement to repair or replace housing units in the Northwestern Ontario First Nations community, two months after a state of emergency had been declared.

Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O'Regan on Thursday announced the agreement, which builds on an interim framework agreement that had been signed in Thunder Bay last month.

O'Regan had been scheduled to sign the document in Cat Lake but his flight was unable to leave Thunder Bay due to poor weather conditions. The signing was done over videoconference.

The agreement commits a total of $12.8 million from Ottawa. That funding includes $5 million for 15 new units, $2.1 million for repairs and renovations to 21 existing units and $3.1 million for 10 new modular units. Another $2.4 million has been allocated for other associated costs including transporting materials, site surveying, servicing and inspections along with $200,000 has been made for a new temporary warehouse structure. 

A statement from O'Regan's office said a celebration in the community will follow at a later date.

Cat Lake declared a state of emergency in January, releasing a report that said 87 housing units in the community were recommended for demolition due to deteriorated condition or excessive mould, which has caused several related health complications.

The agreement also contains a commitment to continue discussions on long-term planning for community development, which includes housing.

The statement said much of the work that had been agreed to in the interim framework is already underway.

"The signing of this Memorandum of Agreeemnt represents another important step forward to ensure that this critical work continues," O'Regan said in the statement.

Beginning last month, Indigenous Services Canada increased the community's nursing complement to four, which it said on Thursday will remain in place indefinitely. 

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