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NAN COVID-19 Bulletin- June 5, 2020

NAN COVID-19 Bulletin- June 5, 2020

Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) COVID-19 Update                                                                                                                                           

Thunder Bay District Health UnitConfirmed Positive (June 4): 83
Active Cases: 3
Resolved Cases: 79
Deceased: 1
Porcupine Health UnitNumber of cases (June 4): 65
Resolved Cases: 57
Active Cases: 1
Deceased: 7
Northwestern Health UnitPositive tests (June 4): 22
Resolved Cases: 21
Active Cases: 1
  • The NAN Executive Council extends condolences to Chief Cornelius Wabasse and family for the loss of his mother. Thoughts and prayers to Webequie First Nation on the loss of one of their Elders.
  • The province of Ontario has extended the Declaration of Emergency orders until June 30.
  • MP Eric Melillo, Kenora has confirmed to join us on the next call, and we have reached out to MP Charlie Angus and we are hopeful he will also join.
  • NEXT CALL: Thursday, June 11, 2020 | 1p.m. EST | 12p.m. CST

NAN Trilateral Table

  • NAN had another Trilateral Table Call on Tuesday June 2 with our federal and provincial partners.
  • NAN continues to find that this is a very good way to discuss important issues that have been raised – and we are looking at how to introduce items that may not necessarily be directly related to COVID-19 to ensure that this important dialogue continues.
  • Evacuations – NAN continues to be very concerned about the lack of concrete host options in the event of a community evacuation.
    • The NAN Executive Council has heard from many NAN Chiefs that evacuating to an urban centre is not desirable this year, and we continue to push for the identification of non-urban sites. So far, this process has been incredibly slow, despite many meetings, as well as NAN’s repeated reminders that fire season is upon us.
  • NAN continues to push both ISC, Ministry of Indigenous Affairs (IAO), and Ministry of Solicitor General (SOLGEN) to commit to a meeting of decision-makers so that we get some movement/progress.
    • The NAN Housing and Infrastructure Department, with support from the NAN COVID- 19 Task Team, Team Rubicon, and the Northwestern Ontario Emergency Management Working Group, has prepared a community evacuation package that will be distributed to NAN Chiefs. We encourage you to review this at your earliest convenience and begin to think about what an evacuation might look like in your community.
  • Broadband – the NAN Executive Council understands that this is a major concern given the uncertainty with respect to education, but that it also affects other areas such as health care delivery. NAN continues to support KNET with their proposal that has been submitted for increased broadband capacity.

Easing Public Health Restrictions

  • It has been a few weeks since NAN distributed this document, and it has been shared with both levels of government and Chiefs of Ontario (COO).
  • The NAN Executive Council would like to remind the NAN Chiefs of the importance of providing feedback on this document. We want to work with each community to ensure this document can be tailored to meet the needs of your community.
  • Please contact us directly, or at emergency@nan.ca.

NAN COVID-19 Task Team                                                                                                                                           

  • On Sunday May 31, a physician tested positive for COVID-19 at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Center (TBRHSC). This individual likely had COVID-19 at the beginning of May, prior to coming to Thunder Bay. The Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) presumes that the virus was still remaining in the body without being fully active/contagious at the time of working at the TBRHSC. The situation continues to be monitored.
  • The NAN COVID-19 Task Team has drafted recommendations regarding testing in the NAN First Nations communities for review by the Grand Chief’s Office.
    • Any increase in testing requires an increase in resources and capacity to manage the increase of test results.

Communications                                                                                                                                           

  • Members of the NAN Executive Council will continue to appear on Wawatay Radio on Tuesday at 12 pm EST and on Friday 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.

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 updating it daily with the most up to date information: www.nancovid19.ca

Summary of Minister Miller and Minister Rickford Presentation & Question and Answer

Minister Marc Miller

  • I want to acknowledge the Chiefs on the phone, and I extend my condolences to the people of Webequie First Nation on the loss of their Elder.
  • The cautiously optimistic success we have seen over the last little while is due to medical leadership and your team at NAN; I want to salute this work. It is important in saving lives and flattening the curve.
  • This call is really an opportunity for me to listen and I want to acknowledge the work Grand Chief has done. Grand Chief, your work has been extraordinary to ensure the work you are advocating for is acted upon. This is a result of the work that has been done with the complex challenges that exist in NAN communities, and it is remarkable what has been achieved in difficult circumstances.
  • I want to acknowledge the work that NAN has done in regard to funding resources, but also the concern for members living off-reserve. The $75 million Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) announced stemmed from the $15 million, that was largely insufficient, and I want to recognize that. ISC is working to acknowledge the financial resources that are needed to support the needs as we profile funds in the upcoming months.

Minister Greg Rickford

  • I had a bit of a delay getting on here and thank you for this opportunity today. I want to thank all the Chiefs and Councillors and Grand Chief Fiddler for your leadership.
  • I want to send my thoughts and prayers to Chief Wabasse and his family on the loss of his mother this morning.
  • I want the community leaders to know that we continue to be committed to responding with solutions for issues that you raise. Most of you should know how to contact me directly, and I feel confident that we had very effective communication lines open.

Question & Answer Period Chief Donny Morris:

  • Will the government provide financial assistance for Wasaya Airlines;
  • Does our community apply for funding for the next three months through our contribution agreements; and
  • How do we source out respiratory masks?
    • Minister Miller: Our team at ISC has a working group with Wasaya Airlines. I received a number of communications from the company and it has been brough to our attention at ISC. We have been addressing the essential list of airlines, the small ones flying into the communities, and our effort has been to support employees, not to take over or completely support all revenue.
    • Those band owned business are eligible for the wage subsidy and they are being topped up by the charter service that ISC has put into place to ensure continuity and the health and safety of health workers.
    • On your specific needs for funding and with respect to masks, I would encourage you to work with Anne Scotton and Garry Best directly.

Chief Leo Friday

  • Will the Kashechewan evacuation that happens every year be supported in terms of advance planning so that we do not come up against the same challenges as we did this year?
    • Minister Miller: I am more than glad to have our team at ISC work with you and see what could work well ahead of time and we are glad to support plans. I cannot promise outcome, but I can commit my team to this work. We need to see how the return to the land worked, but the reports I have seen are very positive.
  • Minister Rickford: We cannot treat evacuations as surprise, as floods are more predictable, fires not so much. We will be supportive of any reasonable requests or measures to support leadership on the ground. We have had discussions with senior officials on the site 5. I can tell you one of the things that COVID-19 has done, a silver lining, we had to do further planning steps to anticipate evacuations for this summer and I would like to see this kind of planning go on further every year with improvement next year. This will be lingering concern and we have to be prepared to work with our municipal partners to have places to stay for our communities.
    • Grand Chief: I believe the commitment is there from Ontario and Canada, with the ultimate goal of the community to move to higher ground.

Chief Metatawabin

  • We need to address those living off-reserve, those far from friendship centres and women’s centres and we also need to consider summer jobs for students.
    • Minister Miller: This is an ongoing concern we need to address; we are getting that concern across the board. As those challenges are identified, we will work with your community to ensure those needs are addressed. We see the demand coming in through Jordan’s Principle and those concerns continue to be addressed.

Mike Morris, Councillor

  • Request for update on funding for off-reserve membership, and status of application
    • Minister Miller: I do not have a concrete answer for a second round of money relating directly to community funds. It is not something we have discussed, and we are looking at the financial resources necessary for communities and we are looking to be more tailored to addressing specific needs. The first round was pushed out as quickly as possible, and it drew legitimate criticism. Now as we identify the tailored needs and more needs in communities that are more vulnerable, and we are looking at the variety of ways people will be supported as we know that a second wave can hit. I encourage everyone to work with Anne Scotton and Garry Best to address those needs in a more thought out way.
    • Off-reserve funding, two weeks ago we announced $75 million additional funds for those organizations who have put out submission. We distributed $15 million to friendship centres and resources providers that had larger submissions. We did not respond to some as we needed to get more financing and are now in the process of contacting those organizations to see if their needs are still there or if they are different. We are looking at hopefully rolling out in the next month, but it is difficult to determine exactly.

Chief Bruce Achneepineskum:

  • What are the plans for education in the communities? We need faster internet to provide education programming. We have spent a lot of money for off-reserve

members. We have taken care of some of our members that are out there that are homeless, and some of our organizations have not been funded.

  • Minister Rickford: The Premier of Ontario announced a roll out of $150 million provincial government funding and more than half a billion dollars for broadband. I can tell individual communities as the announcement we made yesterday is open for applications to go in. As for off-reserve membership and taking care of them, including early releases from jail, we are trying to coordinate a better process for release so that these people can go back to their community and/or have services or programs that are available in Kenora.
    • Anne Scotton: we are working in a way to ensure that young people are not losing their education and that the access to broadband and technology is important and should not be the reason young people do not receive their education. We are working with the province in every way we can to ensure young people can get the education they deserve. NAN is already working to put together an education forum.
    • On urban funding, this round of funding is about $15 million in Ontario, we are following up with those who submitted proposals, First Nations who identified needs for those who live off-reserve, and those who are not large Indigenous-led organizations. We are working hard with people who submitted an application with the focus being service providers, and those who may not decide to get services from mainstream to get their needs met.

Chief Moonias

  • We have not been able to identify a site for quarantining people who test positive for the virus because of the lack of space infrastructure. What resources can be provided for the community if we decided to go that way? Additionally, going over some funding agreements I noticed that they are specific with the deliverables. In terms of community consultation, we will not be able to complete a lot of the deliverables in the agreements.
    • Minister Rickford: Deputy Minister Shawn Batise and I will go offline with you to work towards a solution. We will reach out and contact you.
    • Anne Scotton: we have been reviewing the administration of contribution agreements. We have signaled reforms and most of you have had the experience of the electronic signatures and immediate direct deposits to accounts. We did not want payments to be halted or held up and are working with individual First Nations as fast as we can to have the forms filled out. Some of the lessons that were learned in the pandemic response will be kept going forward. We are happy to work with you to ensure that administrative reporting is not a burden.
    • Garry Best: we have been assisting communities in the last months in planning and supporting resources for temporary response to the pandemic where there is not readily available infrastructure in the community. We have provided pop up tents for quarantine and testing. After this call I will have my team reach out to your community to find a solution. This can be an integrated approach with our provincial counterparts.

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