Thank you, Niki.
You saw what happened last year when Wasagamack had to be evacuated. They didn't even have a road connecting their community to the airport. The airport up there is built on an island. In the middle of the night they had to evacuate out of the airport by St. Theresa Point. In emergencies, all-weather roads go a long way in helping reduce the impact and the need to use air traffic and airlifts and so forth. It's not only to get people out. As you saw at Little Grand Rapids, once a fire does occur and damages a community like that, how do you get hydro crews in there? How do you get 1,200 fridges and stoves back in there that were spoiled because they sat with food that rotted in them? A whole bunch of other impacts come to light after the fire as well. Those are the kinds of things that go on.
Looking at our region north of Berens River and the Island Lake area in terms of airlifts, back in 1997, when the winter roads failed because of climate change, a huge airlift was needed to get the food supplies and the fuel and so forth in there. Every year that risk increases. We haven't had anything nearly like 1997 recently, but the day is coming when we won't get winter roads in.
Also, nowadays you can't trust ice. We make our winter roads across many lakes and rivers. An environmental disaster is waiting to happen when tanker trucks start going through the ice and into our rivers and lakes.
All-weather roads impact in many different ways that people don't normally think of because they don't live there. They don't understand all the things that go on in our communities because we are isolated. Two days ago, a 15-year-old committed suicide in St. Theresa Point. That goes on quietly. You don't hear about it, but when you look at the suicide stats in Manitoba and the rest of Canada, we have the highest; there's no question about that. You look at the stats in child and family services, and in the Churchill—Keewatinook riding they are the highest in Canada. There's a reason for that.
This whole idea that we have modern facilities and Internet, asking when we're going to get Internet and so forth.... That's all fine and dandy, but all it does is make our young people wish for more, wish for a better life. And you can't do that living in isolation. You can't provide any economic opportunities. We got the road at Berens last year, and now we have a chance to work on different things, our commercial fishing industry, our forestry industry. There's a new UNESCO world heritage park in place in our area.
Poplar River doesn't even have a road. In 2016, the environmental licence was issued for the road from Berens River to Pop River. When the PC government got in, they shut it down. Everything is approved. That's a shovel-ready project to go from Berens River to Pop River. The people in Pop River are asking when they are going to get hooked up to the road. By the looks of things, if we don't do something now with a government friendlier to first nations, I can't see that road to Pop River happening in the next 30 to 40 years. I can't, not with the climate right now in Manitoba.
We have a government here that said they had a billion-dollar deficit. The auditor just came out and said it was only $345 million. Yes, it's a debt, but the whole idea of "cut, cut, cut" is being borne by our communities up north now. The whole East Side Road project was shut down. Two months ago, we had a big announcement out of Red Sucker Lake, which is just north. On the map, you see Red Sucker Lake. There's a gold discovery and exploration project going on there now. They're estimating there's over $4 billion worth of gold there.
Every time we've seen development of all-weather roads and so forth, it's always about extracting the resources. What about us as people? We're there. Look at us. There are 20,000 people in one concentrated area who are suffering. There's no need for that. Let's end that type of thinking in this country today.