Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has unveiled new government funding allocated to Indigenous Peoples living off reserves amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a routine press conference outside of Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Trudeau revealed the government would be providing an additional $75 million to organizations that deliver immediate services to these populations living in urban areas.

This is on top of $15 million in funding that the government had promised back in March for services such as counselling, health care, food and supportive housing.

“If you live off-reserve or in a city, we’re working to make sure you don’t fall through the cracks,” Trudeau said.

According to the prime minister, the organizations that will receive this funding will address the “critical needs” of over one million Indigenous who live in these areas across the country.

“You need and deserve services that are culturally appropriate and that’s what we’re doing with today’s investment,” said Trudeau.

With this additional funding, Trudeau said that organizations will be able to offer meals, groceries, clothing and supplies, in addition to services that can help mitigate the impact of the virus.

The Liberals have promised $290 million for organizations representing First Nations, Metis and Inuit people, primarily on reserves and in Indigenous communities.

The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, which represents Indigenous people living off reserves, has said that imbalance is discriminatory, denying adequate help to some people depending on where they live.

Service organizations have said that demand for the help they provide is up and it’s difficult to provide it with anti-pandemic safety measures in place.

Along with the new funding announcement, Trudeau reiterated the recommendation from Canada’s chief medical officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, that Canadians heading out in public are being advised to wear a non-medical face mask to help protect others around them.

With files to the Canadian Press.


Graham Cox