The leader of the Green Party of Quebec, Alex Tyrrell, was in Rouyn-Noranda on Friday, August 12, to speak about the public health crisis in the municipality, where residents are subject to massive amounts of arsenic and heavy metal air pollution from the Horne smelter.
This event aims to reiterate the position of the Green Party of Quebec in favour of the immediate closure of the Horne Smelter in Rouyn-Noranda. The company that has already harmed the health of local residents should not be allowed to continue to pollute while it seeks solutions. It should be shut down now before anyone else suffers further. The DMP is also calling for stricter standards for hazardous pollution, the creation of an environmental police force, and a strict separation between public health officials and industry.
“You see, this smelter has been allowed by the government to emit 33 times the Quebec standard for arsenic. Every day, the smoke that escapes behind me is having an impact on the health of people here in Rouyn-Noranda. Several studies have shown that even 150 km from the industry, the level of arsenic in the environment is higher than it should be. There are several cases in Quebec where public health and the Ministry of the Environment are giving permission to companies to exceed the standards that are established for the health of Quebecers.
I have just met with the mayor and the deputy mayor who have expressed the concerns of the population regarding the recent discoveries in this file. They also spoke to me about the fact that there are many individuals who do not dare to come and settle here, in Rouyn-Noranda, because of this problem.
The Green Party of Quebec supports the local recycling of goods in a circular economy perspective, but we maintain that there is still a balance to be found. We cannot allow the citizens of Rouyn-Noranda to breathe air contaminated with arsenic. It is absolutely necessary that the health of people takes precedence over economic considerations and it is absolutely the opposite that is happening. The Liberal government of Philippe Couillard has allowed this company to emit up to 100 nanograms per cubic meter of arsenic. That’s 33 times the Quebec standard! I don’t understand why governments are giving this kind of company a free pass.
And I would like to take this opportunity to speak directly to the workers of this company and all the other companies that the Green Party of Quebec would like to reduce or even close. We want your health to be protected and we want you to have working conditions that do not put your well-being at risk. We want you to live in a city with clean air and clean water, without fearing for the health of your loved ones. In the Green Party of Quebec, whether it’s the arms industry, the oil industry or the auto industry, we are aiming for a job guarantee that would allow people who work in these companies to be paid to go back to school, to retire early in some cases, or to have a job with better working conditions and better pay.
If a Green government is elected to the National Assembly, we are going to need workers. We will need people like you to work in the energy transition. The Green Party of Quebec wants to ensure that people’s health is taken into consideration in all government decisions. This is an important injustice for the people who live here, in this region. In my opinion, we should not be making this kind of compromise and this company has already had far too much luck.
The Green Party of Quebec is here to support the health of citizens and to support their right to live in a clean environment, in an environment where we do not breathe arsenic every day. It’s really distressing to see that the people of this city are facing these issues on a daily basis.”