According to Canada’s Minister of Indigenous Services the current situation of COVID-19 in Indigenous populations demonstrates that the onset of the virus in some areas may have been delayed by remoteness.
Marc Miller says to remain vigilant and that Indigenous Services Canada is ramping up efforts to provide the resources to make sure that the people that are suffering from this in and around La Loche, Northern Saskatchewan, are properly served. Miller says ISC is closely working with the Meadow Lake Tribal Council as well as the communities of Clearwater River Dene Nation, English River Dene Nation and the Metis Nation of Saskatchewan. He says in Northern Saskatchewan all front line health services are delivered by First Nations and tribal councils with public health oversight by Northern inter-tribal health authority.
ISC reports as of May 8th 129 shipments of personal protective equipment were sent to First Nations communities in Saskatchewan including 59 shipments sent directly to the northern inter-tribal health agencies in Metis nation of Saskatchewan. ISC is also providing direct nursing services to 19 Saskatchewan First Nations communities providing support such as nursing recruitment and Health Services coordination to 25 communities. Miller says overall there are 70 ISC nurses in Saskatchewan offering services to all 74 First Nations communities in Saskatchewan.
Miller says carefully managed and regulated supply-flights took place on April 22nd where 45 nursing professionals were flown to and from 23 First Nations communities and fly-in communities in Manitoba and Ontario. And on April 27th another 22 nursing professionals were flown to 13 First Nations communities and 18 left the communities on their return charter flights. These charters also provide flexibility to support other community needs such as Emergency Management responses, food security or Med-Evac services. Miller says this also provides a much-needed revenue stream for airlines serving Indigenous communities, helping to support their economic long-term and short-term viability.