November 20, 2020 — Ottawa, Ontario, Traditional territory of the Algonquin Peoples — Indigenous Services Canada
Since the beginning of the pandemic, action has been taken at all levels to protect the most vulnerable and support those who need it most. We are actively working with communities and leadership to ensure necessary resources are in place to prevent and combat the spread of COVID-19, and stand ready to deploy additional resources as required.
In light of the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases in Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Government of Canada is providing $120.37 million in immediate funding to support Alberta and Saskatchewan Indigenous communities and organizations in their response to the pandemic.
Through the hard work and leadership of Indigenous communities, organizations and partners, the Government of Canada worked in partnership to protect Indigenous individuals, families and communities. This work has fostered key partnerships that has provided significant and meaningful support in the fight against COVID-19 in both Saskatchewan and Alberta.
In Saskatchewan, we are working directly in partnership with First Nations and Métis leadership across the province. For communities that are requiring additional supports, we are taking additional measures to support the Hatchet Lake Dene Nation, the Battlefords area of central Saskatchewan, Northern Saskatchewan and with the Meadow Lake Tribal Council, as well as provincial partners to support their efforts and address increasing needs during outbreaks. To support on-the-ground efforts in Saskatchewan, we are allocating over $68 million in funding. It includes:
- $20 million to Indigenous communities and organizations for a wide variety of measures, including support to Elders and vulnerable community members, food security, mental health assistance, outreach efforts to keep people safe, and emergency response services and preparedness measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- $32 million to support public health measures such as supplying non-medical PPE to comply with provincial masking requirements. Of this amount, $10 million will be provided to support immediate measures where there is a community outbreak declared by the Medical Health Officer.
- $920,000 for the seven personal care home and Elders lodges to provide additional support staff and greater infection control prevention measures.
- $15.3 million in immediate and direct support for communities with outbreaks or in critical areas. Of this amount, $6.5 million will be allocated to address the increasing needs in Northern Saskatchewan and supporting Métis-First Nations collaboration, $1.3 million to Meadow Lake Tribal Council to support their First Nations in augmenting existing isolation infrastructure capacity in high impacted areas, $2.25 million to support Indigenous Peoples with their isolation needs in the Battlefords area of central Saskatchewan and $250,000 to Hatchet Lake to address occupational and safety issues at the airport runway and support food security and people’s safety during this pandemic response.
In Alberta, we are working directly with Indigenous leadership and provincial partners to support their efforts and address increasing needs during outbreaks. To support on-the-ground efforts in Alberta, we are allocating over $52 million in funding. It includes:
- $19 million in direct support for security needs in First Nations experiencing outbreaks and a further $7.9 million to Indigenous organizations for a wide variety of measures, including support to Elders and vulnerable community members, food security, mental health assistance, and outreach efforts to keep people safe.
- $8 million to support surge capacity such as winterized structures to support COVID-19 drive-by testing, deployment of health professional team(s) to outbreak locations as needed, and immediate isolation supports where existing isolation capacity has been exhausted. Additionally, we will be providing an additional 15 point of care devices to First Nation communities in Alberta.
- $1.25 million to support the six First Nations Long Term Care centers in Alberta, including visitation rooms, funding for additional staff, and greater infection control prevention measures. Funds would support sites in Siksika Nation, Blood Tribe, Alexander First Nation, Bigstone Cree Nation, Fort McKay First Nation and Fort Chipewyan which is serving members from Athabasca Chipewyan and Mikisew Cree First Nations as well as the local Métis population.
- $11.5 million to improve the quality and access of mental health and substance use services, such as Nasal Naloxone to prevent further increases in opioid-related deaths, harm reduction kits, in-community treatment including on-the-land models and better mobile addiction services. Strengthened mental health services for urban Indigenous populations will be provided through organizations such as Boyle Street Co-Op.
- $4.5 million to support infrastructure needs such as temporary critical connectivity infrastructure supporting contact tracing, communication of test results, and virtual primary care/mental health services in Nations lacking these essential services. This funding will also support essential sewer and water services resulting from increased demand from COVID-19.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, including today’s announcement, the Government of Canada has provided over $247 million to First Nations in Alberta and over $357 million to First Nations in Saskatchewan to support their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Indigenous Services Canada will also work directly with First Nations and partners to identify off-reserve service organizations that require support to serve off-reserve members.
The Government of Canada will continue to support efforts on the ground to ensure that Indigenous individuals, communities and organizations have the tools necessary to weather the impacts of COVID-19 on their health and lives.