Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced this morning $285.1 million to support Inuit, First Nations and Metis communities in their ongoing public health response to Covid-19.

“COVID-19 has further highlighted the unique challenges that already exist for Indigenous peoples and communities. We are listening to Indigenous peoples, and are working with them to ensure they have the support they need to get through this crisis,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday morning.

The money will go toward primary health care resources, community-led responses to the pandemic and it can help pay for “surge capacity,” the additional staff needed to overcome outbreaks of Covid-19. A government news release specifies that medical supplies and equipment will be included under this funding as well as 160 temporary assessment, screening and isolation units, which includes repurposing of existing facilities, ready-to-move trailers and mobile structures.

The federal government also committed to spend $44.8 million over five years to build 12 new shelters to protect Indigenous women and girls fleeing violence. The news release indicates that two of those shelters will be located in the territories, but it won’t be decided which two territories until expressions of interest are submitted by governments and/or organizations in the North.

Ottawa also earmarked $40.8 million to support operational costs for these new shelters over the first five years, and $10.2 million annually ongoing. As well, $1 million yearly will be devoted to assisting Métis leaders and service providers with shelter provision and community-led violence prevention projects for Métis women, girls, and LGBTQ and two-spirit people.

Another $270 million will go toward the On-Reserve Income Assistance Program to address increased demand, including hiring extra staff.

This latest funding builds on $305-million Indigenous Community Support Fund announced in March and $306-million, announced in April, to support Indigenous businesses as they cope with the pandemic.

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Derek Neary

Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...