Federal Government addressing urgent needs in Indigenous communities related to COVID-19

(Photo courtesy of Government of Canada.)

The Government of Canada announced $305 million today for the new distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund, to address the immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation communities related to COVID-19.

Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services said in a government news release that “These measures are the product of vital discussions with Indigenous leadership and communities across Canada.”

The Indigenous Community Support Fund will be distributed as follows:

  • $215 million for First Nations: allocated to each First Nation based on population, remoteness and community well-being.
  • $45 million for Inuit, which will flow to each of the four land claims organizations through an allocation determined by the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and regional Inuit land claims organizations.
  • $30 million for Métis Nation communities, which will flow through each of the Governing Members.
  • $15 million for regional and urban Indigenous organizations supporting their members living away from their communities, and to regional organizations such as Friendship Centres and the Métis Settlements General Council of Alberta.

“This new Indigenous Community Support Fund will further support First Nations, Inuit and Métis leaders in taking action to address the evolving needs of their population and in making their own decisions about where critical support is needed to quickly address this public health emergency,” Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services said.

The government states that “These new funds will flow directly to Indigenous communities and groups across the country and will provide Indigenous leadership with the flexibility needed to address the immediate needs in their communities as they prepare for and react to the spread of COVID-19.”

The government says these funds could be used for measures including, but not limited to:

  • Support for Elders and vulnerable community members.
  • Measures to address food insecurity.
  • Educational and other support for children.
  • Mental health assistance and emergency response services.
  • Preparedness measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Fund is in addition to the needs-based funding designated for First Nations, Inuit and Metis through the COVID-19 Response Fund announced on March 11 and to the initial $50 million provided to support the immediate public health response.

“The Government of Canada is supporting Indigenous communities to put measures in place needed to prepare for and respond to COVID-19. We are working to ensure communities have access to needs based resources, open communications, personal protective equipment and other medical supplies to strengthen communities’ resilience to this virus.”Dr. Tom Wong, Chief Medical Officer of Public Health for Indigenous Services Canada said in a news release.

To support women and children fleeing violence, the government has also created a $10 million fund for emergency family violence prevention shelters on reserve and in Yukon, as announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on March 18.

The Indigenous Community Support Fund is also in addition to needs-based support to address public health issues, including the provision of personal protective equipment, testing and health care personnel.

It is also in addition to needs-based funding to address the growth in demand for income assistance and for emergency planning programming.

The Government of Canada stated that “It recognizes more support may be needed and will continue to offer financial support for Indigenous communities to meet their evolving needs.”

arthur.green@cklbradio.com

About the Author

Arthur C. Green
Arthur C. Green is from Whitbourne Newfoundland and graduated from the CNA Journalism Program. Arthur also studied Business Marketing and Political Science at Memorial University in Essex England and St. John's Newfoundland. Green has worked as a spot news photographer/journalist with such news organizations as Vista-radio, CBC, CBC Radio, NTV, Saltwire and Postmedia in Alberta.

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