Image Courtesy of CBC News
Mold in First Nations: A Crisis!
Currently, our founder and President, James C. Watson is en route to Southern Saskatchewan to investigate a mold issue on a First Nations reserve. Got Mold? has been asked to assess 80 homes and will be inspecting several of the homes on the reserve.
Since then, CMHC has published some case studies of how First Nations communities are dealing with their mold issues. Case studies examined how the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve and the Membertou First Nation communities have dealt with mold problems. The key conclusions of these reports focused on creating awareness and solutions for dealing with mold problems. The key to mold is it must be remediated and contaminated materials removed.
However, it appears that mold issues on reserves are not being dealt with adequately.
In 2009, Long Lake First Nation, filed a 210 million dollar class action law suit against the Government of Canada, alleging that the Crown failed to follow its own warnings and allowed the majority of homes on Long Lake Reserve to become infested with Toxic Mould, a substance that is harmful to human health. The basis for the law suit surrounds the Government’s forceful moving of the residents to a swampy area that created mold issues for residents. This is just one case.
In 2011, CBC News reported that First Nations housing is in a state of crisis because more than 40 per cent of homes on reserves need major repairs, compared with seven per cent outside reserves.
Indeed, in 2012, there have been several reports about mold issues on First Nations, including the following:
The key conclusion from this study:
Mould has become a “national housing crisis” for people living in the dilapidated homes that characterize First Nations reserves across the country, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Victoria.
This news report documented the fact that housing is not the only issue facing First Nations because schools and the health of children being educated is being compromised by mold and poor air quality in the schools.
This story clearly shows that the lack of attention to mold issues on reserves will lead to worsened conditions because mold is like a cancer. Unless you get rid of it, it will just keep feasting on the home because mold thrives on building materials.
Mold needs just three ingredients to thrive: water, the right temperature, and food. According to this report, mold is an existing problem and the failure to deal with flooding on reserves is just making the problem worse.
Earlier this week, Tamara Cunningham reported that “mould has amounted to a national crisis. Forty-four per cent of all reserve housing in the country now carry enough toxic mould to cause serious respiratory problems.“
It is clear that mold is a major problem for First Nations and will only worsen unless the problem is dealt with properly.
One might think that considering the health and structural affects that mold costs the government and band leaders, that this issue will be dealt with. However, funding seems to be the major hurdle:
“[F]unding for mould remediation in Canada is simply “inadequate.” The government spends 20 to 30 per cent less per capita on reserve housing compared to that off reserve.”
It truly is a sad state of affairs for our First Nations. In the end the residents of the homes continue to suffer while the Band Leaders and the Government of Canada continue debate this issue amongst themselves.
Based on some of the articles we have published on the true cost of mold, it is fairly clear that our Leaders would be prudent in addressing mold issues today, which we believe will result in a net financial savings to our health care system and overall productivity in the long run. Will our government’s listen? I guess we will just have to wait and see. What do you think?