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New funding for Indigenous people living off-reserve; testing to be focus of First Minister’s call

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced $75-million in new funding to support Indigenous people living off-reserve.  In his daily briefing, Trudeau said this money will help the 1-million Indigenous people living in cities and off-reserve and the organizations that support them with transportation, educational, and mental health supports.  This money is in addition to $15-million announced in March for people living off-reserve as part of a larger $305-million Indigenous Community Support Fund.

The Prime Minister says testing is important to managing a second wave of COVID-19.  Trudeau said how quickly they are contained or controlled comes with testing and contact tracing and the federal government has stepped in to help provinces and territories to increase capacity.  He says, “As we move forward into the summer and into the fall, we need to be able to act fast so we don’t have to go back into a mass lockdown.”

He said he has another First Minister’s call tonight with the country’s premiers where testing will be a large part of the conversation, “We have already seen a ramping up of testing in Ontario and Quebec.  But we know we need to do more testing.  We will discuss precisely how we can scale up testing in places where it is necessary like Ontario and Quebec.” He says they also need to be able to instantly respond to any flare-ups in other regions where the virus is virtually under control.

Yesterday, the President of the Canadian Medical Association warned this country is not prepared for a second wave of COVID-19.  Dr. Sandy Buchman testified at a Senate committee yesterday that the health care system, with its shortage of personal protective equipment and not enough testing, was “sick” before the pandemic and it has only gotten worse.  He said we are gambling by reopening with contact tracing and serological testing, which is the test for antibodies to determine how much of the population has had the virus, far short of where it needs to be in order to make decisions about what to do next.  He said those measures are the only way to protect against a caseload spike that in his opinion is likely to follow as provinces and territories start reopening.

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