A group of legal experts has written to Ontario Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, Greg Rickford, calling for an immediate halt to mineral staking and permitting processes in the province on account of difficulties remote Indigenous communities face in responding to consultation and permitting processes when they are already under extreme pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The experts, recognised authorities in Aboriginal law, Crown-Indigenous relations, and natural resources and environmental law, write:
"In many of these communities the pandemic is placing unique burdens on leadership and community members. The challenges remote Indigenous communities face with respect to housing, health care, and clean water exceed those faced by the rest of Ontario. Pre-existing social emergencies have been exacerbated by the pandemic, and already depleted resources are stretched thin. In our view, the pandemic requires an immediate cessation of mineral staking and permitting processes in order to avoid placing additional burdens on the limited resources in these communities during a time of crisis."
MiningWatch Canada supports this position and has written to Minister Rickford to learn his response.