Government of Canada provides support for a safe return to First Nations schools on reserves
August 26, 2020 — Ottawa, Traditional Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada
Canada recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected students, parents and schools across the country. With September right around the corner, Indigenous Services Canada continues to work with Indigenous partners to address the challenges related to the reopening of schools and the increased pressures being faced.
Today, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, announced $112 million to support a safe return to elementary and secondary schools on reserves.
The investment will provide funding to meet the needs of schools and students, including, for example, for salaries for teachers, custodians and bus drivers (who may work additional hours during this period), access to technology, purchase of e-learning software, and the development of take-home learning materials.
This investment will also support schools with the necessary retrofits they need to implement in order to follow public health guidelines and respect adequate physical distancing as school activities resume. This can include the installation of Plexiglas separators and marking floors with physical distance indicators.
As we reopen schools and restart the economy, the Government of Canada remains in regular communication with Indigenous community leadership and organizations, working directly with Indigenous partners to support their decision-making processes to help protect the health and safety of students and staff this school year.
We will also address challenges in urban areas, where we have seen larger spikes of positive cases of the virus. Those children who attend school off-reserve to study are particularly vulnerable. We will continue to work with communities to make sure the needs of their children and families are met.
“School is critical for a child’s development and future success. The reopening of schools affects everyone in Canada, including Indigenous peoples, as they face the very difficult choice of how they best serve their children. We recognize that a safe and physically-distanced return to school may incur additional costs and are committed to keeping communities safe. As we face these challenges, uncertainty, and deal with risk management, we will be there for schools and students. This investment will help ensure that First Nations schools on-reserve can gradually reopen in a way that both follows public health guidelines and continues to support student success.”
The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services
First Nations can and will make decisions about their own schools reopening based on what they feel is safest for students and their families.
In addition to the $112 million, First Nations are provided flexible supports through the Indigenous Community Support Fund, which could include costs related to public health measures for reopening schools and other supports for children.
On August 12, the Government of Canada announced an additional $305 million for the Indigenous Community Support Fund. The recent announcement brings the Fund to $685 million in total funding directly to First Nation, Inuit and Métis leadership as well as the organizations that support them.
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- Risk mitigation tool for gatherings and events operating during the COVID-19 pandemic
For more information, media may contact:
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services
Indigenous Services Canada
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