The Ontario government is giving more funding to help Indigenous communities fight off COVID-19. The money was announced in Finance Minister Rod Phillips’ Fall economic update.
$37 million will go to support outbreak planning, prevention and mitigation efforts to ensure the health and well-being of Indigenous people and communities in the northern regions of Ontario. “We are working closely with Indigenous leaders and making critical investments to ensure Indigenous people and communities have the necessary tools and supports in place to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Indigenous Affairs Minister Greg Rickford said.
The funding will go the unique needs of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people and families across the province. The funding breaks down as follows:
- $16.4 million from the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs to provide emergency funds for food, household goods, critical supplies, transportation, and support and care, responsive services and supports for urban Indigenous people, self-isolation facilities in remote and northern communities, prevention and awareness efforts, and pandemic planning;
- $10 million from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services to support Indigenous communities and agencies in responding to the needs of vulnerable children, families and elders during the outbreak;
- $7.4 million from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to help social service providers, charities and non-profits delivering critical housing services to Indigenous people living off-reserve; and
- $4 million from the Ministry of Transportation to ensure continued service to remote and northern airports, enabling essential goods and services to continue reaching isolated communities.
In addition to this funding, the government is working with the Indigenous business community to assess how to address the impacts of COVID-19 on Indigenous businesses, economies and workers. “This funding will go straight to Indigenous service providers, who know best what the immediate needs are on the ground” Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark said.
The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) owns and operates 29 airports, with 26 serving remote First Nations communities. These airports provide a vital link to Indigenous communities, enabling shipments of essential supplies, such as food, fuel and water, and connecting essential services, including health care, education and social services. The ministry will work cooperatively with Indigenous communities wishing to enact their own measures related to the COVID-19 outbreak, including consideration of requests for the full or partial closures of MTO airports.
“Our investment will ensure that critical services and goods continue to be available to First Nations and northern communities.” Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney said.