FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION – Fort William First Nation has filed an application for federal funding for a proposed long-term care home in the community.
Chief Peter Collins told Thunder Bay–Rainy River MP Marcus Powlowski on Wednesday that the First Nation submitted a request for $25 million toward an overall cost of $40 million.
The federal government has capped individual applications under the Infrastructure Canada Green and Inclusive Community Buildings Fund at $25 million.
But Collins clarified for a reporter later on Wednesday that FWFN is actually asking Ottawa for a total of $31 million.
The cost of the nursing home has increased since a preliminary estimate last fall.
Powlowski supports the First Nation's application.
The Liberal MP said the proposal has bounced among various federal departments for a few years because the government generally doesn't build chronic care homes in First Nations communities.
However, he believes it may have a chance under the Green and Inclusive Community Buildings Fund.
"My understanding is that stream was created partly with this project in mind, so hopefully that will come through," Powlowski said.
Chief Collins said "Hopefully they'll tell us this funding application will fit under their program. We're looking for good news before the [federal] election pops up. If it pops up, we'll have to wait 'til after the election."
Powlowski agreed that "it would be nice to have this money assured" before the election is called, noting that once that happens the government grinds to a halt.
There is widespread speculation Prime Minister Trudeau is preparing to call an election before October.
According to a federal government website, successful applicants to this round of funding under the Green and Inclusive Community Buildings Fund won't be informed until the fall.
Last year, Collins said the 96-bed facility already had the approval of Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, which would support operating costs with a per diem contribution.
Dilico Anishinabek Family Care and 12 other First Nations in the Robinson-Superior Treaty area would participate as partners with Fort William First Nation.
Both Collins and Powlowski say the project would benefit the whole Thunder Bay area, not just FWFN, by relieving pressure on hospital beds and providing jobs during and after construction.
NOTE: This story has been updated to add clarification provided by Chief Peter Collins concerning the total amount of money being sought from the federal government