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NAN COVID-19 Bulletin- April 27, 2020

NAN COVID-19 Bulletin- April 27, 2020

Nishnawbe Aski Nation COVID-19 Update NAN Update 

  • Confirmed COVID-19 cases: 63 in Thunder Bay District (9 from First Nation communities), 58 in Timmins District, 2 in Kenora, 4 in Dryden, 2 in Red Lake, and 1 in Sioux Lookout.
  • We need to ensure that messaging around public health measures and physical distancing are being taken seriously in our communities. Each community must be as vigilant as ever and we still cannot afford to relax the measures that are in place.
  • If someone in a NAN First Nation community suspects they have symptoms of COVID-19, it is very important that they not to go to the nursing station without getting instructions first from the nurse over the phone or through telehealth.
  • Everyone must act like they have COVID-19 – this is not an extraordinary measure, but a measure that every person is being asked to practice.
  • NAN has heard from Transport Canada and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) with respect to the ‘essential’ designation for northern remote airports – a call is taking place tomorrow and further information will be provided after that.
  • NAN will follow up with Wataynikaneyap Power on the mobilization on the ground and the travel to and from their camp and moving north.

Mining & Exploration

  • Despite the pandemic, NAN communities are being forced to address concerns related to development in provincial and regulatory processes around mining and exploration.
  • Communities are unable to engage meaningfully with proponents and government bodies due to Health and Safety concerns and capacity issues during COVID-19.
  • Ontario has chosen to include mining in its essential businesses.
  • The public health advice is clear – suspend face-to-face meetings with any and all parties. Notwithstanding this, NAN communities are still being asked to respond to exploration plans and permits and expedite these approvals.
    • Ontario does have tools available under the Mining Act and regulations to put permitting processes on hold.
  • NAN will continue to have this conversation with leadership to understand how to move forward with the province. We are continuing to do research to provide information to leadership on this issue.
  • Minister of Energy, Mines, Northern Development Greg Rickford has agreed to join our next NAN Chief’s call on Thursday, April 30th.

Evacuations

  • NAN has been working with Ministry of Solicitor General (SOLGEN) – Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC) and Ministry of Indigenous Affairs (IAO) to prepare for potential evacuations.
  • A new model for evacuations needs to be developed in a COVID-19 context. There is ongoing dialogue to develop a new concept of operations.
  • Most (if not all) municipalities have expressed that they are unable to host evacuees this year and many NAN Chiefs have expressed that they do not want to send evacuees to municipalities.
  • Looking at various locations where evacuees can be brought safely and comfortably.
    • Examples of possible places: Quetico Centre, mining camps, etc.
    • Places that are generally self-contained, or that can become self-contained: with medical staff on site, social services, security, etc. that are near municipality in case of emergencies.
  • PEOC has stated that because of the new context, evacuations will only be done if absolutely necessary.
    • This means First Nations need to be more prepared than usual – everything will need to be lined up in advance (plans, records, manifests).
    • Will have about 3 days’ notice of evacuation – PEOC will still have very close contact in the case of an emergent issue to help the community coordinate as much as possible in advance.
  • IAO, along with key members from PEOC (SOLGEN) have been invited to join one of our upcoming NAN Chiefs’ calls to discuss this further.
  • NAN encourages leadership to start thinking about and planning for evacuations (flood, fires, etc.) as they may be different this year, given the pandemic.

Pandemic Pay for Service Providers

Framework for Reopening Ontario

  • The government will take a careful, stage-by-stage (3 stage) approach to loosening emergency measures and reopening Ontario’s economy. Public health officials will carefully monitor each stage for two-to-four weeks, as they assess the evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak to determine if it is necessary to change course to maintain public health.
  • The government will reopen Ontario businesses and public spaces gradually. This will be based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, including the criteria and thresholds. Each stage will last for approximately two-to-four-week periods to allow for close monitoring of any impacts or potential resurgence of cases.
  • After each two-to-four-week period, the Chief Medical Officer of Health may advise to:
    • Reapply or tighten certain public health measures in response to a surge in cases or outbreaks;
  • Maintain status quo and continue close monitoring of impacts; or
    • Progress to the next two-to-four-week stage.
  • There is currently no date for when stage one will begin.

NAN COVID-19 Task Team 

  • WAHA & SLFNHA joint medical equipment proposal did not include ventilators but included advance oxygen related therapy equipment currently not available in the communities.
    • Studies have been completed over the last month and it is now recommended that ventilators are not the full answer in all cases and other oxygen therapies can be used.
  • Mental Health and Substance Use Working Group – completed the 3 Guidance Documents for health care providers in communities on Alcohol, Opioid and Stimulant Drug Withdrawal Management. They focus on how to medically manage the symptoms of withdrawal.
  • It is recommended that communities do not lift or lightened the border restrictions allowing people in and out of the communities at this time.

NAN Legal Services 

  • A letter was sent from NAN to the Ministry of the Solicitor General on Friday regarding the status of the MOU – no response has been received yet.

Nishnawbe Aski Police Services (NAPS) 

  • Will be releasing statistics for the month of April – receiving many calls of people attempting to and breaching the borders of the communities.
  • Received funding for March on the exceptional circumstances funding request.
  • The first 14-day rotation switch will be starting today in many of the communities.

Communications 

  • Ontario has announced that provincially funded schools will be shut until at least May 31st, 2020.
  • Grand Chief Fiddler will be on Wawatay Radio on Tuesday at 12 pm EST and DGC Naveau will be on Thursday at 1:05 pm EST.
  • COVID-19 Tools and Resources are being translated into Oji-Cree, Ojibway, and Cree to assist the communities in spreading awareness and public health messaging on COVID-19. They are posted on the NAN website under COVID-19 Tools and Resources as they become available.

Urban Communities 

  • NAN has posted specific information on the NAN website for members living off-reserve in urban centres across northwestern and northeastern Ontario.
    • This includes how to find shelters, food banks, social and mental health services, as well as Indigenous organizations that can assist.
  • Please continue to access our website as we are constantly updating it with the most up to date information: www.nancovid19.ca

NEXT CALL: Thursday, April 30, 2020 | 1p.m. EST | 12p.m. CST

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