Canada’s Indigenous Services minister says he is worried for First Nations communities in the wake of a possible second wave of COVID-19.
With infections resurging across the country, Marc Miller said they are providing both financial and physical support to on-reserve nursing stations and taking extra precautions for remote fly-in communities.
“There are strict protocols that we’ve learned from mistakes in the past to make sure that the nurses aren’t vectors of transmission,” Miller told reporters Wednesday at the Liberal cabinet retreat.
Miller said there are more than 100 remote First Nations communities and the medical protocol for flights in and out will continue.
Both Miller and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressed caution in the face of a possible second wave.
Trudeau referred to record high increases of infections happening worldwide.
“We’re not immune to those trends. Here in Canada, we’re seeing cases rise in many parts of the country too,” Trudeau explained.
“Each new case has the potential to multiply and create more cases so we’re not out of the woods.”
Miller said an encouraging point is the fact that infection rates in First Nations communities are low.
“If you look at the numbers related to the first wave on reserve, those numbers related to First Nations peoples are about a fifth of the rest of Canada.”
The lower infections on –reserve is a testament to Indigenous leadership according to Miller, especially since First Nations communities have inadequate medical resources.
Nunavut continues to be the only jurisdiction in Canada with no confirmed cases.
Miller said the government played a role with over $2 billion to date going to First Nations communities to help fight COVID-19 but also said Indigenous communities were “dealt a poor set of cards” going into the pandemic and had to “fight tooth and nail” for funding.
Three First Nations in Manitoba are currently dealing with cases.
He said the government will continue to provide medical support and is asking people to stay vigilant.
The prime minister is asking people to take appropriate precautions to reduce the risk of exposure by limiting in-person close contacts and by downloading the COVID-19 alert app.
He said Canadians have to show solidarity and stay strong to keep each other safe.
“The fight of COVID-19 is far from over, we’ve come too far to give up now,” Trudeau said.
On Sept. 14, Indigenous Services sent out a release stating that 491 cases have been confirmed in Indigenous communities, 42 hospitalizations and 53 active cases.
As of this posting, there are 138,803 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada – 9,188 people have died and 121,840 have recovered.