Heather Sokoloff of the National Post, with files from Adrian Humphreys and Lee Greenberg, reports that two planeloads of children stricken by an E. coli outbreak were flown out of an Ontario Indian reserve for medical treatment last night.
David Ramsay, Ontario’s minister responsible for Indian affairs, said he no longer trusts Ottawa to ensure drinking water is safe in the Indian communities that fall under the federal government’s jurisdiction. He is promising to investigate the water quality at 50 reserves throughout the province.
Two years ago the Ontario Clean Water Agency released a report warning Kashechewan’s water could become contaminated as the treatment plant is dangerously close to the spot where the community’s raw sewage flows into the Albany River.
The first evacuees had skin problems such as rashes, scabies, and diarrhea. Keshachewan’s water treatment facilities, built by Ottawa, are apparently non-functional and the majority of the reserve’s 1,900 inhabitants suffer from severe skin infections. All residents will need to be vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B.
The Red Cross, the Canadian Forces, and Emergency Management Ontario are working together to ensure shelter for the evacuees.