(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde says the Prime Minister’s announcement of new funding to fight COVID-19 in First Nations is much needed and welcome. Increased investments in health care and specialized equipment, social assistance for First Nations families on-reserve, and new shelters for women and girls ensures First Nations have better tools to protect their citizens during this pandemic.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, I have spoken directly with Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Miller about the need for increased supports for First Nations during this time. It is good news that Canada has taken this call to heart. This investment is an important step toward ensuring that no one is left behind during these unprecedented times,” said National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “Access to proper health care and protective equipment is essential. We must continue to support First Nations in their efforts to keep their people safe, not only during this current pandemic, but also from future health threats. I acknowledge the commitment by the federal government that all funding is scalable and must be based on needs”
Today, Prime Minister Trudeau announced over $640 million in additional funding to support Indigenous communities. The majority of the funding, $285.1 million, will be used by First Nations to fund community-led responses to the pandemic, improvements in primary health care resources and specialized supplies on a needs-basis. The issue of surge capacity and a lack of support is very real in First Nation communities; this funding is much needed to resolve these concerns and protect against a second wave of infections.
First Nation families are struggling. The $270 million to supplement the On-Reserve Income Assistance Program will be used by families for things like grocieries and rent in order to get through these very trying times. It will also be used by First Nations governments to increase social supports for their citizens.
The AFN sees the funding announced for shelters for women, girls, and other at-risk people as an important step towards increasing the safety of our life-bearers across the country. First Nations women and girls need to have safe and reliable options when they are in difficult situations.
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
For more information please contact:
Bilingual Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 382
Senior Communications Advisor
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 244