Aboriginal community support during COVID-19

Aboriginal community support during COVID-19

As COVID-19 continues to spread across Canada, the Federal Government has declared that the health, safety and well-being of all people in Canada, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis, remains a top priority.

It is important for all Aboriginal groups and organizations to understand the support that is available to help prepare and respond to the threat of COVID-19. At Lift Legal, we are committed to helping Aboriginal groups access the Emergency Assistance Packages that are available to Alberta’s Aboriginal communities. We have set out below a summary of some of the assistance available:

The Indigenous Community Support Fund

$305 million has been allocated to a new, distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund to address the immediate needs of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. The funding also provides support to regional, urban and off-reserve Aboriginal organizations.

These new funds will flow directly to Aboriginal communities and groups across the country and will provide Aboriginal leaders with the flexibility needed to prepare and respond to the spread of COVID-19. These funds can be used for measures including, but not limited to:

  • support for Elders and vulnerable community members;
  • measures to address food insecurity;
  • educational and other support for children;
  • mental health assistance and emergency response services; and
  • preparedness measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Indigenous Community Support Fund is to be distributed as follows:

  • $215 million for First Nations, which is to be allocated to each First Nation based on population, remoteness and community well-being.
  • $45 million for Inuit, which will flow to each of the four land claims organizations through an allocation determined by the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and regional Inuit land claims organizations.
  • $30 million for Métis Nation communities, which will flow through each of the Governing Members.
  • $15 million for regional and urban Aboriginal organizations supporting their members living away from their community, and to regional organizations such as Friendship Centres, Métis Settlements General Council of Alberta and Métis in the Northwest Territories.

The Indigenous Community Support Fund will be allocated regionally, with Alberta’s First Nations set to receive $26,267,000, and Alberta’s Métis to receive $7,500,000.

How the Support Fund Works

The communities identified jointly by Indigenous Services Canada, National Indigenous Organizations and other Aboriginal leaders, based on emergency needs, do not need to apply for support. Both on-reserve and self-governing First Nations communities will receive funding directly from Indigenous Services Canada, whereas Métis communities will receive funding through existing mechanisms to facilitate the speed at which funding can be received.

The call for proposals for COVID-19 prevention projects for organizations and communities providing services to Aboriginal people located in urban centres and off-reserve is now closed. The deadline to submit a proposal was April 13, 2019.

Accessing Additional Support Through Existing Programs

In recognition of the unique status and needs of First Nations and Inuit in Canada, the Federal Government established the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) within the department of Health Canada. With respect to COVID-19, FNIHB will provide funding and expertise to First Nations and Inuit communities for developing and maintaining their hazard or pandemic plans.

First Nation communities can also receive emergency assistance services through the Emergency Management Assistance Program (EMAP). EMAP helps communities on reserve access emergency assistance services.

The types of expenses covered under EMAP when communities are under imminent threat include:

  • Incremental wage costs, including temporary hires and overtime;
  • Rental of special equipment;
  • Set-up costs for one-time preventative measures;
  • Insurance and fuel costs of response vehicles;
  • Care, feeding and accommodation of human resources separate from health care professionals, if required;
  • Communications such as satellite phones and cell phone usage above and beyond normal use; and
  • Water and household supplies.

At this time, EMAP assistance is strictly dedicated to ensuring the immediate health and safety response of First nations to COVID-19.

Personal Protective Equipment

Communities who are unable to access personal protective equipment through regular channels can contact their regional medical officer at Indigenous Services Canada. Primary health service providers are prioritized to receive personal protective equipment relative to their population size. However, facilities that do not offer primary care may still be eligible to receive gloves and masks.

How Can Lift Legal Help?

At Lift Legal, we have a strong history of working closely with Aboriginal groups and organizations. We are well equipped to assist you with formulating strategies and submissions to best serve your communities during this financial and health crisis. We will work with you to come up with an affordable budget for legal services and would be pleased to provide you with a complimentary phone consultation.

Please contact us at (780) 809-2225 or liftme@liftlegal.ca.

About Mel Garbe

Mel founded Lift Legal with the goal of delivering cost effective legal services without sacrificing capability by effectively using modern tools to access the types of resources that larger law firms have access to. The result being that Lift Legal provides high level professional services at a greater value.