Body Bags Are Not A Pandemic Plan
Thu 17 Sep 2009
Incompetence and Insensitivity must be explained
OTTAWA – Health Canada’s decision to send dozens of body bags to First Nations communities in the Island Lakes Region in Manitoba as part of H1N1pandemic preparations is being strongly condemned by New Democrat Health Critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North).“Health Canada’s action is appalling and disgusting,” said Wasylycia-Leis. “Can you imagine how it must have felt watching those bags being unloaded? Body bags speak louder than words. This casts serious doubt over government assurances that it’s been listening to First Nations demands for urgent help to protect their residents.”
Wasylycia-Leis’s concerns were reflected in a motion passed at last night’s Health Committee meeting. The Committee agreed to the following motion: “That the Health Committee voice its concerns about reports of body bags being shipped by Health Canada to First Nations communities in Manitoba’s Island Lakes Region and report this back to the House and that the Minister of Health appear before the Health Committee on or about September 28, 2009 with the results of her inquiry into this incident”.
First Nations and Inuit communities are at high risk for H1N1 pandemic flu transmission and took the biggest hit in the first wave of the flu last spring. The second, bigger wave is expected to peak as soon as October, according to experts.
“This is a callous act proving that the Federal Government doesn’t get it,” said New Democrat Niki Ashton, MP for Churchill, the riding in which Island Lakes Region is located. “After months of pushing for real action, are First Nations to understand that the Federal Government’s plan is to wait for people to die?”
Ashton and Wasylycia-Leis have pledged to continue to press the government for urgent improvements to its H1N1 preparedness in full consultation with First Nations and Inuit representatives.