Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Indigenous communities

The Government of Canada supports First Nations and Inuit communities in preparing for, monitoring and responding to COVID-19.

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Confirmed cases of COVID-19

On First Nations reserves in provinces, as of May 29, ISC is aware of:

Case numbers per region:

Provincial chief public health officers work with ISC's regional medical officers and nurses to provide medical support as needed when a positive case is reported.

For more details on case numbers in First Nations communities, visit:

For the total number of confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 across Canada, visit:

How to protect your health and your community

How to avoid infection

PHAC has the most up-to-date recommendations and awareness resources:

Handwashing and drinking water advisories

If your community is on a boil water advisory or do not consume advisory, you should still use your water to wash your hands with soap and water and for personal hygiene. Infants and toddlers should be sponge bathed in order to avoid accidentally swallowing the water.

If you are on a do not use advisory, your water is not safe for any use. Use bottled water with soap or hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to wash your hands.

If you do not have access to running water, wash your hands in a large bowl and then throw out the water from the handwashing bowl after each individual use.

Coronavirus is not known to spread through water.

How to prepare

The Public Health Agency of Canada has the most up-to-date recommendations for remote and isolated communities which can be found at: Being prepared.

What to do if you are sick

  1. Check your symptoms. Symptoms of coronavirus may include: fever, cough, and difficulty breathing
  2. Check your risk of getting coronavirus
  3. Isolate yourself at home for 14 days to avoid spreading it to others
    • If you live with others, stay in a separate room or keep a 2-metre distance
  4. Avoid individuals with chronic conditions, compromised immune systems and older adults
  5. Call your local health facility. Tell them your symptoms and your exposure. They will provide advice on next steps

Personal protective equipment

ISC maintains a stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitizers in the event of a health emergency in First Nations on-reserve communities.

This stockpile is accessible:

  • in cases where other sources of PPE are unavailable
  • to ensure the safety of healthcare workers and others supporting delivery of health services

The stockpile is not intended for:

  • routine use in patient care
  • distribution to individual members in communities who are not sick with COVID-19 or taking care of a sick family member

How to access the equipment

First Nations should contact their regional office if their usual supplier is unable to process their PPE requests. First Nations in Yukon and the Northwest Territories should contact their regional office if territorial governments are unable to process their PPE requests. Regional offices work with ISC's national office on equipment requests for health care purposes.

Inuit and Métis communities should contact the ISC regional offices or Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada if a province or territory is unable to process their PPE requests.

ISC is processing PPE requests with quick turnaround to ensure First Nations on-reserve communities are ready to respond to COVID-19 as effectively as possible. As of May 29, we have shipped 874 orders for PPE, including hand sanitizers, N95 masks, isolation shields, and gloves, to First Nations communities, with 5 orders in progress.

Mental health and wellness

Mental health counselling continues to be available. Visit:

Support for Indigenous

Individuals

New

Many of the supports offered through this plan require that you have filed your income tax return for the previous year. It is also easier to access your tax information and to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit if you have CRA MyAccount. If you don't have an account or have never filed a tax return with the CRA, please call 1-800-959-8281 for help.

Continuing essential services

Students

New

Organizations and communities

New

Continuing essential services

  • Primary health care and health protection services
  • Emergency management measures including for floods and fires
  • Management of health facilities
  • Funding for community services such as income assistance
  • Any operations required to maintain safety at any environmental remediation site

Other COVID-19 related changes

Guides

We will continue to receive feedback, provide guidance and information and support communities.

Businesses

New

How we have prepared

Since 2014, ISC has been:

ISC has contacted regions to review the processes in place in order to refill and restock PPE as required.

ISC has also prepared and shared:

ISC works closely with PHAC, other Government of Canada departments, and provincial and territorial governments as well as Indigenous partners to protect the health and safety of Indigenous peoples. This includes supporting Indigenous partners in responding to public health threats.

ISC's network of regional health emergency management coordinators, communicable disease nurses, environmental public health officers and medical officers advises and supports First Nation communities and leads on public health emergency preparedness and response south of 60. ISC funds or directly employs public health, home care and primary care nurses across many First Nation communities.

As of April 22, ISC has organized charter flights:

Feature story: Charter flights to fly-in First Nations communities in provinces during COVID-19

North of 60, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada is working with Transport Canada and territorial governments to ensure continuity of routes for goods and essential services.

In the territories, primary health care is the responsibility of the territorial governments. ISC is working closely with First Nations and Inuit partners and territorial governments to prepare for, and respond to COVID-19, and will be available to provide surge capacity support in a timely manner if needed.

When it comes to preparedness and response in Métis communities, the primary guidance and support comes from the provincial government.

Who to contact for more information and help

Government of Canada: Public Health Agency of Canada COVID-19 information

Toll free: 1-833-784-4397
Email: phac.info.aspc@canada.ca

Regional medical officers

British Columbia
First Nations Health Authority
Email: COVID19needs@fnha.ca

Alberta
Dr. Wadieh Yacoub, Indigenous Services Canada
Email: wadieh.yacoub@canada.ca

Saskatchewan
Dr. Ibrahim Khan, Indigenous Services Canada
Email: ibrahim.khan@canada.ca

Northern Inter Tribal Health Authority
Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka
Email: nndubuka@nitha.com

Manitoba
Dr. Michael Routledge, Indigenous Services Canada
Email: sac.covid-19fnihbmb.isc@canada.ca

Ontario
Dr. Maurica Maher, Indigenous Services Canada
Email: sac.covid-19fnihbontario.isc@canada.ca

Quebec
Richard Budgell, Indigenous Services Canada
Email: sac.covid-19dgspni-fnihbqc.isc@canada.ca

Atlantic
Dr. Eilish Cleary, Indigenous Services Canada
Email: sac.covid-19atlantic.isc@canada.ca

If you live in the territories, please contact your regional health authorities in the territory where you are located.

Related links

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