Government of Canada COVID-19 Update for Indigenous Peoples and communities

August 7, 2020 — Ottawa, Traditional Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada

As of August 6, ISC is aware of these confirmed cases of COVID-19 for First Nations on reserve in provinces:

  • 422 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19
  • 34  hospitalizations
  • 381 recovered cases

There is a total of 17 confirmed positive cases in Nunavik, Quebec, and all have recovered.

Unfortunately, there were new cases reported in First Nations on reserve in Quebec. We are closely monitoring these recent cases and will continue to work in close communication with the community to ensure necessary supports are in place.

This week there were also 4 new cases on the island of Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, compared to 20 cases last week. With this curve, public health officials are not expecting a wide community spread; however, ISC continues to monitor the situation closely.

We must all remain vigilant in employing measures to protect ourselves, our families and our communities from the spread of COVID-19. While many provinces and territories are at varying stages of re-opening, we must continue to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by limiting the size of group gatherings and continue to maintain physical distancing of at least 2 arm-lengths from others (approximately 2 meters or 6 feet).

Additionally, individuals can help by:

  • avoiding all non-essential trips in the community;
  • limiting contact with people at higher risk, such as Elders, those in poor health, or with underlying health conditions;
  • wearing a non-medical mask when physical distancing is not possible;
  • following the recommended public health guidelines outlined by your province of residence.

The health and wellbeing of Indigenous Peoples remains a top priority for ISC. ISC continues to work  with Indigenous leadership to flatten the COVID-19 curve in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities as community leaders are working to ensure their members have access to the most up-to-date public health information and services.

In addition to physical health impacts, the Government of Canada recognizes the COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant effect on the mental wellness of Indigenous Peoples. Mental wellness services that support Indigenous communities are essential. These services continue to respect public health measures with many shifting to telehealth or virtual approaches and being innovative in terms of service delivery.

The Hope for Wellness Helpline provides immediate, culturally safe, telephone crisis intervention, 24 hours a day, seven days a week in English and French, and upon request in Cree, Ojibway, and Inuktitut.

ISC continues to work in partnership with Indigenous organizations and communities to support the adaptation and evolution of Indigenous-led mental wellness resources and services, during the pandemic and beyond.

To help Indigenous organizations provide support to First Nations off reserve and Inuit and Métis living in urban areas during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada committed a total of $90 million in funding, between March 18, 2020, and May 21, 2020, through the Indigenous Community Support Fund. Successful recipients of the additional $75 million were informed of the results on June 29, 2020, and the funding will be disbursed to recipients in the coming weeks.

This week, on behalf of the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services Canada, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, and Pam Damoff, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services, announced  $13.5 million  for Indigenous organizations in the Greater Toronto Area, which are spearheading local initiatives such as: providing educational and learning supports for children and youth, purchasing protective equipment, providing food services, covering emergency sheltering costs, and providing access to basic communication tools like mobile minutes or access to Internet services.

Quick facts

  • Approximately $1.7 billion has been committed in specific support to Indigenous and northern communities and organizations:
  • $285.1 million to support the ongoing public health response to COVID-19 in Indigenous communities.
  • $380 million for a distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund which includes $90 million to support Indigenous Peoples living in urban areas.
  • $10 million for emergency family violence prevention shelters on reserve and in Yukon to support women and children fleeing violence.
  • $72.6 million for health and social services support to the governments of Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.
  • $34.3 million for territorial businesses, through CanNor’s Regional Relief and Recovery Fund.
  • $25 million for enhancement to the Nutrition North Canada Subsidy.
  • $17.3 million in support for Northern Air Carriers.
  • $15 million for CanNor’s Northern Business Relief Fund.
  • Up to $306.8 million in interest-free loans to help small and medium-sized Indigenous businesses.
  • $75.2 million in 2020-21 in distinctions-based support for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation students pursuing post-secondary education.
  • $270 million to supplement the On-Reserve Income Assistance Program to address increased demand on the program, which will help individuals and families meet their essential living expenses.
  • $44.8 million over five years to build 12 new shelters, which will help protect and support Indigenous women and girls experiencing and fleeing violence. The Government of Canada will also provide $40.8 million to support operational costs for these new shelters over the first five years, and $10.2 million annually ongoing. Starting this year, $1 million a year ongoing will also be provided to support engagement with Métis leaders and service providers on shelter provision and community-led violence prevention projects for Métis women, girls, LGBTQ and two-spirited people.
  • $117 million in new funding to support community-owned Indigenous businesses and $16 million in new funding to support Indigenous tourism through the pandemic and into recovery.

Associated links

Contacts

For more information, media may contact:

Adrienne Vaupshas
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services
adrienne.vaupshas@canada.ca

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada
819-953-1160
SAC.media.ISC@canada.ca