Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller speaks with the media in the Foyer of the House of Commons before Question Period Tuesday March 10, 2020 in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)

Concerns raised over COVID-19 outbreak plans for Indigenous communities

Plans for possible outbreaks in remote, vulnerable Indigenous communities getting a failing grade

Ottawa’s plans to respond to possible COVID-19 outbreaks in remote, fly-in and already vulnerable Indigenous communities are getting a failing grade from Opposition politicians who say they display a troubling misunderstanding of the needs and conditions in these areas.

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller told a legislative committee Thursday that Ottawa is preparing to help First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities if the coronavirus does begin to spread through a “surge capacity response” that would allow governments to scale up quickly as needed.

ALSO READ: B.C. First Nation chief urges caution in rural areas amid COVID-19

Miller says many remote Indigenous communities are at greater risk when it comes to COVID-19, due to overcrowded housing, food insecurity and poverty linked to poor health outcomes.

Many Indigenous communities also do not have local doctors or hospitals and must be flown to urban centres to be treated for serious conditions, which makes them additionally vulnerable.

He also says the federal government is ready to pay what it costs to bring in additional health workers and give Indigenous communities bottled water, protective equipment and hand sanitizer to help with prevention, and set up isolation tents if a lack of housing prevents self-isolating at home.

ALSO READ: Indigenous leaders to meet with premiers, Trudeau on child welfare, UNDRIP

NDP MP Niki Ashton says she believes this response is not taking First Nations realities seriously, stressing that treating sick people in Canada’s North in tents is not realistic.

Conservative Senator Dennis Patterson, who represents Nunavut, also scoffed at the idea of tents in the North at this time of year.

He also believes the $100 million that Ottawa has earmarked for COVID-19 response for First Nations and Inuit communities will not be enough.

So far, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in the North.

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusIndigenous peoples

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Want to volunteer during COVID-19? Here’s how to apply to the Queen Charlotte EOC

Young, healthy people can submit an online application to the Emergency Operations Centre

‘It was violating’: Skidegate fire department called to St. Patrick’s Day cemetery blaze

Queen Charlotte RCMP fire investigator says there was no evidence of arson

Masset RCMP seize ‘substantial’ amount of guns, cash in Friday the 13th drug bust

Officers executed search warrant on March 13 at ‘suspicious’ Old Massett Village residence

‘It makes people feel cared for’: Haida Gwaii food bank cooks up new freezer meal service

Containers needed for meals for vulnerable people, those in self-isolation amid COVID-19

BC Ferries able to restrict travel for sick passengers

Ferries working on schedule shifts to keep workers safe

B.C. couple celebrates 61st anniversary through seniors’ home window

Frank and Rena Phillips marked occasion at Nanaimo Seniors Village this week while social distancing

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Call before you dig into spring projects during isolation: BC 1 Call

BC 1 Call gives free checks for utilities in the area of a desired outdoor project

Most Read