Furey talks housing and inquiry into Innu children in care while campaigning in Labrador

·3 min read

Liberal Leader Andrew Furey was in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Tuesday, campaigning with the Lake Melville Liberal candidate Michelle Baikie.

The Liberal party sent out a news release early in the day referencing the inquiry into Innu children in care, which Furey elaborated upon during a news conference.

“One of the things I learned very quickly in the first four months is the importance the Innu Nation placed on this file. They took it very seriously,” he said. “We had many discussions with the Innu leadership on this, and we have actually reached a consensus on commissioners, and the commissioners will be announced in the upcoming weeks.”

Furey said previously the inquiry would not go ahead until the completion of the current inquiry into ground search and rescue in the province. Part of the delay he said, is in the availability of the commissioners and their schedules.

Furey said while he’s been in Labrador, he’s met with the Nunatukavut Community Council and the Innu Nation, and has been in contact with the Nunatsiavut Government.

“We’ve got a good relationship. I think we all recognize the road to reconciliation is long and can be bumpy and there can be many turns along it,” he said, “but someone has to take that first step and I want to take that first step collectively with them, together, so that we can begin reconciling some of the history of that has occurred.”

Furey was also asked about the housing issues facing Labrador, such as lack of affordable housing. He said the topic is something he’s heard a lot about from all Indigenous leaders, and “frankly, it’s something that as a government we need to do a bit better.”

They’re working with the stakeholders on the issues, he said, and it’s something his party is committed to improving.

The housing shortage is one of the issues that has led to the increasing transient population in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, which has been a point of concern for many years. The town council has called on the province to provide more resources to help deal with the multi-faceted issue.

Furey said he has met with the council to discuss the issue, and the Liberals want to work with the town and Indigenous leaders to develop a plan.

“There’s not, as you could imagine, a quick solution to this. The solutions are as complex perhaps as the problems themselves,” he said. “The only way we can find real solutions to some of the issues is to have full stakeholder input and a strategy to deal with it.”

Furey was asked about the medical transportation assistance program again Tuesday, which has been a big issue in Labrador for years. Labradorians say the program doesn’t meet their needs, since it doesn’t take into account the cost of travelling from Labrador.

Furey referenced changes his party had made to the program, such as increasing the daily food allowance, reducing the number of kilometres necessary in order to apply and allowing reimbursements for staying in private residences.

“As I said yesterday, in Canada when you have a serious medical problem, that can’t leave you bankrupt, and if transport is a barrier to medical care, that’s one thing we need to fix,” he said.

Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram