Government of Canada COVID-19 Update for Indigenous Peoples and communities
December 11, 2020 — Ottawa, Traditional unceded Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada
The week of November 29 to December 5 continued to see an alarming increase in the number of newly reported cases of COVID-19 in First Nations communities, related to the second wave of the pandemic, with 1071 new cases reported as of December 10.
As of December 10, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is aware of these confirmed cases of COVID-19 for First Nations communities on reserve:
- 5675 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19
- 2100 active cases
- 3526 recovered cases
- 49 deaths
There are a total of 30 confirmed positive cases in Nunavik, Quebec, and all but 1 have recovered.
ISC is working closely with Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners to support an integrated and coordinated approach to support the administration of a COVID-19 vaccine for Indigenous Peoples and communities. Earlier this week, the Government of Canada announced the authorization of the first COVID-19 vaccine in Canada, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, after a thorough, independent review of the evidence for safety, efficacy, and quality requirements for use in Canada. Up to 249,000 Pfizer doses will be available for COVID-19 vaccination in December, with the first portion of this shipment being shipped to 14 locations across Canada. The logistics of the COVID-19 vaccine will require coordination with provinces, territories, Indigenous leadership and partners. Indigenous health is a shared responsibility for First Nations, Inuit and Métis leaders, provinces and territories and the federal government. The Government of Canada has signed agreements with seven companies to increase the number of vaccines available. Vaccines will be provided to at-risk groups first on a rolling basis as vaccines are received in Canada, including older adults, Indigenous adults and health care workers.
Provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous partners and community organizations continue to work hard to keep their communities safe and the Government of Canada will be there to support them as they continue to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first cases on reserve in Atlantic Canada were seen earlier this month. Two confirmed cases were reported on December 2, in the community of Sipekne'katik in Nova Scotia. No additional cases have been confirmed since that time. We will continue to connect with the community and are ready to provide additional resources and support, as required.
As of December 10, the Government of Nunavut is reporting 42 active cases and a total of 229 confirmed cases of COVID-19. 187 people have recovered from the virus and of the four impacted communities, only Arviat still has active cases. Due to the rise in cases in Nunavut, the Government of Canada announced last month that it is providing $19.36 million in immediate funding to support the Government of Nunavut, Inuit communities and Inuit organizations in their response to the pandemic.
ISC is paying close attention to the current outbreaks in the Prairie provinces and remains in close communication with community leadership in these provinces to support their efforts to respond to the course of the COVID-19 virus.
Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is working closely with Shamattawa First Nation Chief and Council to support logistical challenges, as they work to manage the COVID-19 outbreak in their community. ISC has worked with the First Nation, provincial, federal, and non-governmental partners to identify available resources, and have them deployed to the First Nation with the concurrence of the Chief and Council. A Rapid Response Team (RRT), including two physicians, four nurses, a physician assistant and two occupational therapists, was deployed to Shamattawa First Nation on November 27 to support the response. The RRT brought four Abbott ID NOW and two GeneXpert point of care testing devices to support the response in Shamattawa.
As announced on November 20, 2020, ISC is allocating $120.3 million in immediate funding to support Indigenous communities and organizations in Alberta and Saskatchewan in their response to the spike in confirmed cases. This investment will support priorities identified by leadership and communities, including support for vulnerable populations, support for long-term care homes, deploying additional staff in communities with outbreaks, strengthening mental health services and additional isolation and screening spaces where needed. Last month, ISC also announced $61.4 million in immediate funding to support First Nations in Manitoba and their response as needed to the pandemic. This funding supports public health measures such as personal protective equipment for essential workers in communities, additional primary care staff, such as nurses, paramedics and community workers, and food security to support physical isolation.
The Government of Canada recognizes and thanks the frontline workers who put their own safety on the line every day to make sure families, youth, and especially Elders are kept safe. Their dedication and hard work has reduced the potential number of people who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country, the risk of spread increases. We urge all community members to support their leadership and follow community and provincial public health measures that have proven to save lives. Everyone can help limit the spread by making wise decisions and following recommended public health measures.
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For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services
Indigenous Services Canada
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