OTTAWA – At a news conference on Parliament Hill, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) pandemic.
He is joined by federal ministers Marc Miller (Indigenous services) and Ahmed Hussen (families, children, and social development), as well as Dr. Theresa Tam (Canada’s chief public health officer) and Dr. Howard Njoo (the deputy chief public health officer). Drs. Tam and Njoo also present the latest federal epidemiological modeling data.
Minister of Indigenous Services, Marc Miller states, “This pandemic has been particularly hard on children and youth of all ages. We must ensure that they get the necessary support to be able to learn and thrive in a safe environment. This is why we are announcing new funding for communities and organizations, from early learning and child care to post-secondary, as they work to adjust to a new reality in light of COVID-19. We will continue to work with Indigenous partners to promote the health and safety of First Nations, Inuit and Métis throughout the country, and will continue to do so throughout and beyond the pandemic.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced over $200 million in new funding to provide support to Indigenous peoples and communities. The funding includes:
- $120.7 million to help Indigenous early learning and child care facilities safely operate during the pandemic. The investment is expected to support over 35,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation children who access culturally relevant Indigenous early learning and child care programs. This funding will be co-managed through existing early learning and child care partnerships. It will assist Indigenous communities in addressing their most critical needs, including implementing enhanced cleaning protocols, hiring additional staff, and offering training.
- $59 million for First Nations to adapt their on-reserve community infrastructure. First Nations can use the funds to implement public health and safety measures in community buildings by adding hand washing stations, buying hand sanitizers, personal protective equipment for staff, and cleaning supplies, installing signage and barriers to promote physical distancing, and doing safety checks and upgrades to existing ventilation systems.
- $25.9 million to provide immediate support to Indigenous post-secondary institutions in 2020-21. The investment will help these institutions address increased costs and financial uncertainty resulting from the pandemic, including putting in place supports to retain staff, automating services to process student applications and registrations, adapting courses for online learning, and implementing public health and safety measures for in-person services.
The Government of Canada continues to take a distinctions-based approach to address the needs of Indigenous peoples and communities. Today’s investment builds on the work already being done through the Indigenous Community Support Fund, as well as additional funding provided for communities and organizations working with Indigenous peoples living in urban areas and off-reserve.