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

Warm temperatures bring welcome news for Salmon Arm residents who use public washrooms

City plans to open remaining washrooms, playgrounds to remain closed

Provincial COVID-19 rules lead to closure of two Columbia Shuswap Regional District rec sites

CSRD parks not managed with Rec Sites and Trails BC remain open

Cougar caught on camera in Lake Country

A Lake Country resident caught a cougar prowling near their home

Too late for property tax adjustment from Columbia Shuswap Regional District

Timing of provincial deadlines eliminate option for tax relief in response to COVID-19

YMCA Okanagan offers care for children of essential service workers

Priority will be given to children aged 5 to 12 years old

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

Smiles, honks and waves as teachers stage parade for their students

Classrooms are closed, but kids and teachers manage to connect

B.C. sorting medical equipment sales, donation offers for COVID-19

Supply hub has call out for masks, gowns, coronavirus swabs

Summerland winery sold for $5.2 million

Property overlooking Okanagan Lake was on the market 160 days

B.C. records five more deaths due to COVID-19, 45 new cases

A total of 838 people have recovered from the virus

Easter Bunny added to B.C.’s list of essential workers

Premier John Horgan authorizes bunny to spread “eggs-ellent cheer” throughout province

Travellers returning to B.C. must have self-isolation plan or face quarantine: Horgan

Premier John Horgan says forms must be filled out by travellers

Major crimes investigating sudden death of North Okanagan child

The 8 year old was flown to Kelowna General Hospital and died hours later

Most Read