Additional funding for health, economic, and social support for Indigenous peoples
From day one, our government has been working with the provinces and territories to keep Canadians safe and address this pandemic.
And this morning, I want to begin with an update on where this work stands.
Yesterday, the Premiers and I, along with Deputy Prime Minister Freeland, had our eleventh First Ministers’ Meeting since this crisis began.
We discussed the very concerning reports regarding certain long-term care homes in Ontario and Quebec.
What the Canadian Armed Forces reported is deeply disturbing.
That any senior would face this kind of treatment is unacceptable.
And as I said to the Premiers, our government will be there to support them, as we work together to ensure that our elders receive the care they deserve.
In our meeting, we also talked about what we need to do, together, to help businesses reopen and get people back on the job, while keeping our communities safe.
Moving forward, it will become even more important to quickly identify, and then isolate, this virus.
To do that effectively, we need to coordinate across the country.
A number of provinces have already reached out to us for support on contact tracing, and our governments are currently working together on a data-sharing platform.
And yesterday, First Ministers were briefed on the work being done by the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force, which will coordinate blood test surveys across Canada.
The Premiers and I also spoke about support for workers during this difficult time.
Our government will continue discussions with the provinces on ensuring that as we enter the recovery phase, every worker in Canada has 10 days of paid sick leave a year.
Because no one should have to choose between taking a day off sick, and paying their bills.
Yesterday, the premiers, Deputy Prime Minister Freeland, and I discussed the very concerning reports that came out this week about certain long-term care facilities in Ontario and Quebec.
As a country, we must do better for our seniors.
As I said to the premiers, our government will be there to support them and we will work together to ensure our seniors receive the care they deserve.
During our meeting, the premiers and I also discussed how we can work together to quickly identify and isolate the virus.
The premiers were updated on the work being done by the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force, which will coordinate blood tests across the country.
We also talked about support for workers during this difficult time.
Our government is continuing its discussions with the provinces to ensure that, when we begin the recovery phase, everyone will have 10 days of paid sick leave a year.
Our government is also working with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation leaders to support communities during the crisis.
We have already made a number of investments to help provide loans to Indigenous businesses, student jobs, and services to those who live off reserve.
But we know there is still work to be done.
And today, we are taking another step.
This morning, I can announce that we are investing $650 million to support Indigenous communities on health care, income support, and new shelters for women.
Let me start with the first pillar, which is health care.
Although we’ve made progress, there are still communities that are not properly equipped to handle a COVID-19 outbreak.
And we need to address that.
That’s why we are investing over $285 million for public health in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities.
These funds will go toward more nurses, will help procure specialized supplies, and will support work with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities on continued, community-driven responses.
Having the right health care is essential, but it isn’t the only concern facing communities right now.
Because of this pandemic, a lot of people also need a hand in paying for the basics.
So, as the second pillar of this investment, we are boosting the On-Reserve Income Assistance Program.
This money will support people living on reserve who need help paying for things like groceries, cleaning supplies, or rent.
A portion of this funding will also help First Nations communities continue to provide services like skills training, and support for people as they navigate federal benefits.
The work being done in communities—by members of the communities—is incredibly important to help people get through this very challenging time.
And that brings me to the third pillar of this funding—investment in shelters.
In April, we announced $10 million so that emergency shelters for Indigenous women and children could adapt to the new challenges posed by COVID-19.
This is vital support in the short-term.
But in the long-term, more still needs to be done.
So today, I can announce that our government is investing an additional $85 million for new shelters for Indigenous women.
These shelters will be built in communities across the country, including in the North.
No one should have to stay in a place where they’re unsafe.
No one should be forced to choose between violence or homelessness.
These new shelters will offer a path forward when people need it most.
This morning, I am announcing a new $650-million investment to help Indigenous communities get through this crisis.
Of this amount, over $285 million will be invested in health care.
This money will help increase the number of nurses in First Nations communities and be used to purchase specialized equipment.
The funding will also be used to support the work we are doing with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities to find long-term, community-based health-care solutions.
We will also be boosting the On-Reserve Income Assistance Program to help those who live on reserve with their daily expenses.
And a portion of the funding under this program will help First Nations communities to provide several important services.
Finally, we will be investing $85 million in new shelters for Indigenous women.
These new shelters, which will be located in communities, will provide women with a safe place to stay and the resources they need the most.
I want to end today with an update on another measure we’ve taken to keep Canadians safe.
Earlier this morning, Minister Garneau announced that large cruise ships will not be allowed in Canadian waters until at least October 31.
This decision extends the one we made in March, which was taken to protect our coastal communities.
COVID-19 is still a very serious threat.
But with the right plan, and with the right investments, we will weather this storm together.