Update on COVID-19 in Indigenous communities

News release

July 24, 2020 — Ottawa, Traditional Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) wishes to share the following COVID-19 update.

On First Nations communities in provinces, as of July 23 ISC is aware of:

  • 368 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19
  • 31 hospitalizations
  • 337 recovered cases

There is a total of 17 confirmed positive cases in Nunavik, Quebec, and all have recovered.

Unfortunately, a new case on the island of Haida Gwaii, BC was reported this week. We are closely monitoring the recent case and will continue to work in close communication with the community and the First Nations Health Authority to ensure necessary supports are in place.

Individuals and communities across Canada need to remain vigilant in employing measures to protect themselves, their families and communities.

ISC has been working closely with First Nations communities and their leadership to make sure they have what they need to prepare for and prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The First Nations Health Authority exercises a similar key role in assisting BC First Nations communities. For our part, ISC is supporting communities’ COVID-19 response plans by strengthening health service capacity, community health infrastructure, infection prevention and control, and responding to requests for medical equipment, personnel and supplies.

To date, ISC has worked directly to support 361 communities to review and update their pandemic plans and/or communicable disease health emergency plans. Among them, over 260 communities have assessed the availability and suitability of existing physical spaces that could be used in the event of a community outbreak.

ISC continues to quickly process Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requests, as effectively as possible, to help communities stand ready to respond to COVID-19, and to ensure the safety of healthcare workers and others supporting the delivery of health services. As of July 21, we have shipped 1,037 orders for PPE, including hand sanitizers, N95 masks, isolation shields, and gloves.

Indigenous Service Canada is using charter flights to bring essential service personnel and supplies to fly-in First Nations communities in provinces to reduce the risk of exposing those communities and personnel to COVID-19. On July 15, 183 nurses and other health care professionals flew into and 142 flew out of 47 fly-in First Nations communities in Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario. Since the first flights in April, a total of 1,347 personnel have been transported in and out of remote and isolated First Nations communities across Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario. For all of these communities, the ongoing delivery of essential services and supplies in an environment where travel is limited is particularly challenging but critical to Canada's overall response to COVID-19.

To help organizations and communities provide support to First Nations off-reserve and Inuit and Metis living in urban areas during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada committed a total of $90 million in funding, between March 18, 2020 and May 21, 2020, through the Indigenous Community Support Fund. Successful recipients of the additional $75 million were informed of the results on June 29, 2020 and the funding will be disbursed to recipients in the coming weeks. 

This week, Minister Vandal announced the $8.4 million for Manitoba organizations, which are spearheading local initiatives such as: providing care packages for vulnerable community members; increasing mental health supports; offering educational support for children; and ensuring food security during the pandemic.

As we look ahead with cautious optimism, the priority remains supporting Indigenous leaders as they work to protect the health, safety and prosperity of their communities.

The Government of Canada stands ready to support communities to respond to their needs, according to their priorities.

Quick facts

  • Approximately $1.7 billion has been committed in specific support to Indigenous and northern communities and organizations:

  • $285.1 million to support the ongoing public health response to COVID-19 in Indigenous communities.

  • $380 million for a distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund which includes $90 million to support Indigenous Peoples living in urban centers.

  • $10 million for emergency family violence prevention shelters on-reserve and in Yukon to support women and children fleeing violence.

  • $72.6 million for health and social services support to the governments of Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut, for health and social support.

  • $34.3 million for territorial businesses, through CanNor’s Regional Relief and Recovery Fund.

  • $25 million for enhancement to the Nutrition North Canada Subsidy.

  • $17.3 million in support for Northern Air Carriers.

  • $15 million for CanNor’s Northern Business Relief Fund.

  • Up to $306.8 million in interest-free loans to help small and medium-sized Indigenous businesses.

  • $75.2 million in 2020-21 in distinctions-based support for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation students pursuing post-secondary education.

  • $270 million to supplement the On-Reserve Income Assistance Program to address increased demand on the program, which will help individuals and families meet their essential living expenses.

  • $44.8 million over five years to build 12 new shelters, which will help protect and support Indigenous women and girls experiencing and fleeing violence. The government will also provide $40.8 million to support operational costs for these new shelters over the first five years, and $10.2 million annually ongoing. Starting this year, $1 million a year ongoing will also be provided to support engagement with Métis leaders and service providers on shelter provision and community-led violence prevention projects for Métis women, girls, and LGBTQ and two-spirit people.

  • $117 million in new funding to support community-owned Indigenous businesses and $16 million in new funding to support Indigenous tourism through the pandemic and into recovery.

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Vanessa Adams
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada

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