The company has invested significant funds in developing COVID-19 testing capacity to assist greatly in detecting the presence of COVID-19 among the 200 or more workers that may be on-site at any given time. The implementation of this testing capacity goes beyond what is required under current government regulations and has an important and immediate impact on the Cree workers and their families.
Since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cree communities of Eeyou Istchee have had to enact mandatory self-isolation laws for individuals arriving from areas of risk, including mine sites or other worksites within our territory that employ workers coming from areas of risk. As a community with a health care system that has a limited capacity and a population with significant underlying health conditions that predispose us to the severest of consequences of COVID-19, we were unable to follow provincial or federal models for managing COVID-19 that were more liberal. This made it extremely challenging for Cree workers, working at sites on 14–day shifts who would then be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon returning home only to return to work on the 14th day and start the gruelling cycle all over again. Many Cree workers have made and continue to make this incredible sacrifice to provide for and protect their families and their communities, they are our heroes. With the testing protocol put in place by Osisko at their site, Cree workers may now be released from local self-isolation laws and can finally visit and hold family members and loved ones.