The federal government has announced an additional $305 million to help Canada’s Indigenous Peoples battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says the money can be used for a wide variety of measures such as supporting vulnerable community members, addressing food insecurity, educational and other supports for children, mental health assistance and emergency response services and preparedness measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The new money will flow through the Indigenous community support fund, bringing the total amount to $685 million this year.
The money will be available to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities, as well as Indigenous communities and organizations serving Indigenous peoples, including Indigenous Canadians living off-reserve as well as Inuit and Métis living in urban centres, on an application basis, Miller said.
“Health and safety remains our priority and we will continue to work in partnership with Indigenous communities and organizations to support a strong and comprehensive pandemic response,” Miller said.
“This funding offers further concrete support for on-the-ground community solutions that respond to the unique needs and circumstances of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis wherever they reside.”
To date there have been 425 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on First Nations reserves, with 34 people hospitalized. Of these, 393 have recovered from the virus. There have also been 17 cases in the Nunavik region in northern Quebec. All have recovered.
The federal government has committed over $2 billion to support Indigenous and northern communities and organizations during the pandemic, Miller said.
With files from The Canadian Press