Cape Breton First Nations chief asks province to close causeway
SYDNEY, N.S. -- Support seems to be growing for a 'Cape Breton bubble,' as the idea of closing the Canso Causeway to non-essential travel isn’t going away.
First, it was the mayor of the CBRM speaking out, and now First Nations communities are following suit, calling on the province to place screening measures at the Canso Causeway.
Connecting Cape Breton to mainland Nova Scotia, the causeway is an important thoroughfare for everyday travel for residents in the Strait and Antigonish areas.
Many feel it could also be a key screening point for slowing the spread of COVID-19 to Cape Breton Island.
“What I’d like to see is a thorough screening check area, or even a rapid testing site,” says Chief Annie Bernard of the Waycobah First Nation. “You’re checking for temperatures, you’re asking why are they going to Unamaki? Why are they going into the Eastern zone?"
This week, Chief Bernard sent a letter to Premier Stephen McNeil and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang, outlining strategies that municipal leaders and First Nation chiefs feel would help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 to the island.
“We have the bad stats, we have high diabetes, everything that this virus really preys on, we have it,” says Bernard.
Premier McNeil says Nova Scotia has fought this pandemic together, and will continue to do so.
"I encourage leaders in Cape Breton to urge their citizens to stay home and not travel to Halifax for non-essential purposes, such as Christmas shopping. This is the time when we need to stay close to home,” said McNeil in an emailed statement to CTV News.
Bernard feels the geography of Cape Breton gives residents an advantage against the COVID-19, pointing to low case numbers on other Maritime islands.
“P.E.I., which I know is its own province. Newfoundland is its own province. But at the end of the day, if we can do something to help our community members, we will,” says Bernard.