The federal minister of northern affairs wants to reassure residents of the Northwest Territories that they are not being forgotten by the Government of Canada during the coronavirus outbreak.
There are still no confirmed cases in the NWT.
Minister Dan Vandal appeared live by phone on Denendeh Sunrise—CKLB’s morning show on Friday.
He says special consideration is being given to Indigenous people as well.
“We are investing over $300 million for support programs that will benefit Inuit, First nations and Métis people across Canada who are in immediate need.” Vandal said. “We are also putting forth $50 million to help women’s shelters and people who are going through difficult times with their families.”
Vandal acknowledges the unique challenges of combating the threat of coronavirus in the territory, including the isolation in the smaller communities as well as their lack of medical facilities and personnel.
He says he is also aware that NWT residents pay more for goods and services than people in the south.
Vandal adds that he has spoken personally with Premier Caroline Cochrane and Indigenous leaders across the NWT about the territory’s unique needs during this crisis.
He advised residents to follow the direction of health officials including washing your hands often, coughing and sneezing into your arm and self-isolating, including just staying home, if possible.
Vandal, an MP from Winnipeg, says he agrees with Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya that if families have the opportunity to head out on the land during this time they should do so as another way to self-isolate during the COVID-19 threat.
Exactly how people will be able to access the added funding has not been made entirely clear.
The best advice is to hang on to receipts for any expenses people are incurring due to, and during, the coronavirus outbreak.