Accessing COVID-19 public health support for First Nations communities


This support is now closed. If you require any assistance or have questions, contact your Regional office.

First Nations on-reserve and First Nation communities in the North can access additional public health support for COVID-19 preparedness, response and recovery.

On this page

Who can access this public health support

About the support

ISC works with Indigenous communities and the provinces and territories to support the public health response to COVID-19. A total of $1.67 billion has been invested for public health response since the start of the pandemic, including $268 million in additional support announced in Budget 2022 on April 7, 2022. On August 2, the Government of Canada transferred $50 million to the ICSF from COVID-19 public health funding.

As the pandemic evolves, this funding supports First Nations community-led responses to the pandemic, with priority support targeted to vaccines and boosters rollout, testing, and surge capacity health human resources for urgent medical needs and outbreaks. This year will continue the transition away from pandemic supports with funding ending in March 2023.

In British Columbia, the First Nations Health Authority coordinates health specific community requests. For information on COVID-19 supports for First Nations communities in British Columbia, please consult the First Nations Health Authority

Territorial governments are responsible for primary care and public health for all residents of the territories.

In Nunavik, the Government of Quebec is responsible for the delivery of primary health care and public health.

The Government of Nunatsiavut delivers public health while the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is responsible for primary health care.

Consult Accessing COVID-19 public health supports for the territories, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut.

Eligible items

On-going administration of COVID-19 vaccines

Vaccine priorities include the following:

  • COVID-19 vaccines and boosters for Indigenous adults
  • COVID-19 vaccines and boosters for Indigenous children ages 5 years and up
  • COVID-19 vaccines for Indigenous children ages 6 months to 5 years
  • Ongoing outreach to increase vaccine uptake in low-vaccinated communities
  • The administration of vaccine options such as mRNA (for example, Moderna, Pfizer), protein subunit (for example, Novavax), viral vector (for example, AstraZeneca, Janssen), or plant based vaccine (for example, Medicago Covifenz®)

In accordance with evolving public health guidelines, eligible expenses to support efforts in community vaccine rollout and administration may be supported.

These can include activities that:

  • promote vaccine uptake and increase vaccine confidence
  • support services for COVID-19 vaccine promotion such as Elder or traditional cultural practices
  • mental health support for people with vaccine hesitancy
  • hire transportation drivers that bring individuals to vaccine clinics
  • hire short term child care providers for community members attending clinics
  • support surge health care professionals for vaccine administration, for dose draw-up and inventory control
  • hire public health workers to go door to door to vaccinate
  • support the translation of vaccine information in Indigenous languages
  • support public health campaigns
  • hire personnel providing additional supports in the community to maintain public health services and prevent risks to healthcare professionals for example, by limiting the number of clients in the health centre and vaccine clinic, taking the temperature of those seeking entry to health facilities, and asking COVID-19 screening questions would generally be eligible under this category
  • the use of a medical taxi at a reasonable cost to take community members, who live on reserve, to their local health centre for COVID-19 testing or vaccines, especially if testing or vaccine administration is not available in the community. Specific situations will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Rapid tests

ISC works with provinces and territories to ensure there is access to testing for Indigenous communities and organizations.

Communities should first ask for rapid tests from provinces and territories or your local Indigenous health authority.

If you cannot access rapid tests from these sources then:

  1. call or email your ISC regional office and the Regional Medical Officer of Health
  2. explain that you are not able to access tests from the provinces or territories
  3. provide:
    • the primary contact's information, including email and phone number
    • delivery address the shipment should be sent to
    • quantity of tests needed

Relevant testing available in the communities

Eligible expenses to support efforts in community COVID-19 testing can include activities such as:

  • on-going surveillance, implementation, such as storage and distribution, transition, and maintenance of antigen and molecular COVID-19 testing programs

Procurement of testing resources from private vendors is not considered an eligible expense. Test resources, such as antigen tests and molecular devices or cartridges, may be available for free from provincial or federal sources. Please contact your regional COVID support coordinator before agreeing to purchase any tests from third parties or incurring any costs seeking reimbursement.

Surge capacity health human resources

Eligible expenses under this category may include:

  • surge public health capacity in support of continued vaccine rollout, testing and outbreaks

Outbreak response for community members

During a community outbreak, eligible expenses under this category may include:

  • support for individuals self-isolating on the advice of a medical professional, as per provincial public health guidelines
  • short-term hotel rooms, if additional space for isolation cannot be provided. This will be considered on a case-by-case basis
  • short-term cost effective solutions such as mobile units or other space rentals and deployable structures, in cases where hotel use is unavailable
  • funding to ensure food security to support the period of physical isolation on the advice of a medical professional and in line with current local public health guidelines
  • requests for health infrastructure, including the decommissioning of existing temporary infrastructure or adapted space
  • personal protective equipment for essential workers in communities that require various supplies and storage

Other types of expenses

Other public health measures not directly aligned to the priority support outlined above that First Nations communities or organizations wish to request support will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Examples may include activities related to recovery efforts. Contact ISC regional office and the Regional Medical Officer of Health.

Submit a request for public health support

Consult the First Nations and Inuit health regional offices when submitting a request for funding or for eligibility questions.

Include the following information when requesting funding:

Template to request public health support under COVID-19

Name of community: ________________________________________
Date of submission: _________________________________________
Name of authorized requestor (print name):________________________
Approval signature (authorized signature): _________________________
Submit estimates for purchase requests, see example below.

Requested Item Cost per unit Quantity Total cost Reason for request
Pamphlets to
support vaccine uptake
$1 100 pamphlets (8.5x11) $100.00 Translation of vaccination information in Indigenous languages to support vaccine uptake


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