NDP MP Lori Idlout says the Liberals need to hold companies accountable. ‘Our communities can’t continue to be disregarded when the profit is gone and we’re left to clean up the mess that a multi-billion dollar company made.’
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada is responsible for $4-billion in environmental liabilities for mines abandoned by private operators in the territories, according to the federal government’s public accounts for 2020-21. This figure represents the amount required to bring 162 contaminated sites back up to current minimum environmental standards. But in extreme cases the remediation costs may extend into perpetuity.
Matthew Gutsch, a spokesperson for Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, confirmed in a written statement that most of the 162 contaminated sites that the department manages in the North are the remnants of private-sector mining exploration and development.
When their owners became insolvent, these sites became the responsibility of the federal government, as the owner of last resort in the territories. There are similar abandoned sites in the provinces, which provincial governments have assumed responsibility for.