Government of Canada COVID-19 Update for Indigenous Peoples and communities 

News release

November 6, 2020 — Ottawa, Traditional unceded Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada

The number of positive cases of COVID-19 in Indigenous communities continues to grow. The week of October 25-31 saw an increase in the number of new cases of COVID-19 in First Nations communities, with 254 cases reported as of October 31.

This increase continues to be linked to large private and public gatherings in settings where physical distancing and wearing of masks were not observed. Gatherings where public health guidelines are not respected can quickly lead to a rapid spread of the virus, as we have seen in Saskatchewan in the last few weeks, where one event led to 11 outbreaks across the province.

As well, we are paying close attention to the current outbreaks in Manitoba and have been in close communication with community leadership and the province. We are actively working with communities and leadership to ensure necessary resources are in place to prevent and combat the spread of COVID-19, and stand ready to deploy additional resources as required.

As of November 5, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is aware of these confirmed cases of COVID-19 for First Nations communities on reserve:

  • 1728 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19
  • 542 active cases
  • 94 hospitalizations
  • 1171 recovered cases
  • 15 deaths

There are a total of 28 confirmed positive cases in Nunavik, Quebec, and all have recovered.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities were successful in preventing, preparing for and responding to the spread of COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic. We know that when local Indigenous leadership are given the necessary resources, they are best placed to successfully respond to a crisis with immediate, innovative and proactive measures to ensure the safety of their members. The Government of Canada will continue to support efforts on the ground to ensure that Indigenous individuals, communities and organizations have the tools necessary to weather the impacts of COVID-19 on their health and lives.

We recognize that the pandemic has been particularly hard on children and youth. We must ensure they get the necessary support to be able to learn and to thrive in a safe environment. As such, the Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced over $200 million in new funding for communities and organizations, from early learning and childcare to post-secondary, as they work to adjust to a new reality in light of COVID-19.

This 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 community infrastructure on reserve. 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.

To date, the Government of Canada will have committed close to $2.5 billion to support Indigenous communities and organizations during COVID-19.

Even in challenging times, everyone must remain vigilant and continue to follow the measures that save lives. Individuals should continue to be careful and listen to the advice of public health experts. The more cases there are in the community, the greater the opportunity for the virus to be introduced into workplaces, schools and vulnerable settings, like long-term care centres.

Indigenous Services Canada continues its work to ensure that appropriate health care is available for affected Indigenous individuals and works with the community to identify any additional support that may be required. We know that timely and transparent information sharing is essential to preventing further spread of COVID19. As such, we work with health experts in communities, the Public Health Agency of Canada and provinces and territories to implement immediate measures to reduce the chances of further spread, including contact tracing, as soon as cases are reported.

Use public health practices to reduce your risk of infection and spreading the virus:

  • Properly wear a mask or face covering when in public or around those at risk, especially when it is hard to maintain a physical distance.
  • Limit contact to the same small circle of people and practice physical distancing with those outside of the household.
  • Create a supportive environment for people who are isolating to take care of their mental health, and minimize the stress and hardship associated with isolation.
  • Wash hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds.

Moreover, everyone should familiarize themselves with the additional recommended public health guidelines outlined by their province or territory of residence, and/or by their community leadership. They are also encouraged to share the advice of public health experts, such as from the Public Health Agency of Canada, so that their friends and families are also well informed.

We urge everyone to help change the trend by making wise decisions and following recommended public health measures. 

Quick facts

  • As of October 30, over $2.4 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.
    • $685 million for the distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund.
    • $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.
    • $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 and non-repayable contributions 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 of Canada 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, LGBTQ and two-spirited people.
    • $117 million to support community-owned and micro-businesses through the Indigenous Community Business Fund
    • $16 million to support Indigenous tourism businesses through the COVID-19 Indigenous Tourism Stimulus Development Fund.
    • $82.5 million in mental health and wellness supports to help Indigenous communities adapt and expand mental wellness services, improving access and addressing growing demand, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • $112 million to support a safe return to elementary and secondary schools for First Nations on reserves.
    • $120.7 million to help Indigenous early learning and child care facilities safely operate during the pandemic.
    • $59 million for First Nations to adapt their on reserve community infrastructure.
    • $25.9 million to provide immediate support to Indigenous post-secondary institutions in 2020-21. 

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Adrienne Vaupshas
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada

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