Feds provide more funds to help remote Indigenous communities cope with pandemic

OTTAWA — The federal government is to spend millions more to help remote and rural Indigenous communities cope with the COVID-19 crisis.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce today significant new funding for First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities, part of which is intended to help them bolster their public health response to the pandemic.

article continues below

That could include measures such as hiring more health workers, building isolation facilities or purchasing medical supplies and equipment.

Another part of the funding is to help residents in these remote communities pay for the pandemic-induced increase in their cost of living.

And a third part is to help communities build women's shelters amid reports that domestic violence has spiked as families have been forced to isolate themselves to curb the spread of the deadly virus that causes COVID-19.

The new funding is on top of the $305-million Indigenous Community Support Fund, which the federal government created in March to help First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities prepare for and cope with the pandemic.

Of that $305 million, $15 million was allotted to organizations that serve urban and off-reserve Indigenous People, who make up more than half of Canada's Indigenous population. The government last week added another $75 million for off-reserve organizations.

Residents of remote Indigenous communities are considered among the most vulnerable during the pandemic.

They often have no ready access to health care and many live in over-crowded conditions that are ripe for spread of disease and make it difficult to isolate those who may have been exposed.

While there have been some isolated outbreaks, the worst fears of officials about COVID-19 spreading like wildfire through Indigenous communities have so far not materialized.

However, officials warn the crisis is far from over and Canada could face a second wave of COVID-19 cases in the fall.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2020.

© Copyright Thompson Citizen