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Chiefs of Ontario Communique - Health Sector Updates

TO: First Nation Leadership, Leadership Council

FROM: Health Sector, Chiefs of Ontario

DATE: May 27, 2020

RE: COVID-19 Weekly Update


As COVID-19 continues to evolve, Chiefs of Ontario Health and Social Sectors will be providing updates concerning technical highlights and vital priority areas.



Each week the COO Health Secretariat presents First Nations testing data to First Nation Leadership on their weekly Thursday calls. It is an opportunity to look at rates in Ontario First Nations compared to Ontario as a whole. Weekly reports are posted on the Chiefs of Ontario COVID-19 website:


In April 2020 the First Nations Health Managers Association began research into a phone line to help provide information related to COVID-19 to First Nation health managers. “InfoPoint was created which is a phone/email “helpful desk”-single point of contact for reliable information on COVID-19. If any health manager is looking for information including funding, supports, up to date information on COVID-19 and responses from government call 1-855-446-2719 or email: Information can be shared directly with you. InfoPoint is a new service and they are continuing to build the data base. For further information you can also contact Marion Crowe:


During this time of COVID-19, RNAO (The Registered Nurses Association of Ontario) through their VIANurse program have registered 7,448 RNs for virtual and clinical care, 1031 critical care RNs, and 289 Nurse Practitioners. As well VIANurse has served the staffing needs of more than 313 organizations in different sectors, including 7 Indigenous health facilities. For further information or to access additional nursing services contact: or


The Indigenous Working Group on Food Security is a national group formed in March 2020, working to address these issues. The goal of the IWG is to ensure that Indigenous communities have access to food through innovations in the redistribution of foods in Canada.

Membership: National Indigenous Organizations, Indigenous communities (bands, settlements, hamlets etc), Indigenous led food organizations who services indigenous peoples (>50% of their mandate), or has current specific Indigenous advisory committee as part of their organizational structure


  1. 1. To identify where food is needed immediately and longer term

  2. To map out existing relationships and strategies that support food security within an Indigenous food sovereignty framework

Juliana Lesage, OFNYPC representative, attends this working group.

"The Indigenous Task Force group aims to have those needed conversations, strategic planning and outreach in regards to looking at food security and sovereignty in Indigenous communities. During COVID-19 we want to ensure that Indigenous communities here in Ontario have their voice heard and are represented at this table.

My goal as a youth representative on the task force is to ensure the youth voice is present and heard during these conversations and the work reflects our realities as Indigenous youth during COVID-19. When we look at food security it is interconnected in all that we are as Indigenous people. It is important to me that we intertwine our traditional ways as much as possible when looking at food sovereignty."

Federal Funding for First Nations communities:

  • Healthy Living and Healthy Children programs: -your community can direct funding provided through existing federal programs-ADI or Nutrition North

  • Indigenous Community Support Fund: Funds give leadership the flexibility needed to address immediate food insecurity needs

  • Nutrition North Canada: enhancements made to subsidies and eligibility lists

  • Indigenous Early Learning and Childcare (IELCC) Transformation Initiative: The IELCC Terms and Conditions have been temporarily amended to extend eligible spending to encompass any activity that provides assistance to Indigenous children and families impacted by COVID-19 pandemic.

Provincial funding for First Nations communities:

  • As part of Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19,funding is available to help First Nations communities respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. Funding can be used for emergency needs such as food, water, basic household goods, baby and elderly care supplies: ongoing food security, including supports for hunters, trappers and communal storage; transportation and distribution of goods to communities. Proposals will be reviewed on an ongoing basis. For more information, funding guidelines and a funding proposal form, email:

Other sources of funding for communities: (Please contact each organization directly)

  • Breakfast Club of Canada: Special grants are available for community organizations including First Nations, remote and fly-in communities to help ensure children and families have access to food during the crisis

  • Second Harvest: Funding must go towards existing food programming (food-related expenses & operating costs) and is available to Band Councils or First Nations communities. Applications through:

  • President’s Choice: A School Nutrition Grant of up to $10,000 is available to cover costs associated purchasing of food for daily school meal programs. The application will be coming soon.

  • Emergency Support Fund: The United Way Canada, the Canadian Red Cross, and the Community Foundations of Canada have received government funding through the Emergency Support Fund to collaboratively support charities and non-profits across the country serving Canadians who are most vulnerable to the health, social, and economic impacts of COVID-19, including members of First Nation communities. The funds will support a variety of activities, including those related to food security, such as: increasing volunteer-based home deliveries of groceries and medications; and helping vulnerable Canadians access government benefits. For updates on the application process please visit:


  1. Shared Summary of federal food-related initiatives with the potential to address food insecurity in Indigenous and Northern communities – Provided by the Indigenous Working Group on Food Security, which is a national group working to address these issues.

  2. Indigenous Services Canada: Food Security Update for Ontario Chiefs


The Ontario Health Coalition: ( on their website (COVID-19 Update) has provided a full list of assessment centres available to FN community members as of April 23rd, 2020 for COVID-19 testing. COO Health Sector has asked the Ministry of Health-Public Health Division for updates to the testing centres, locations and new criteria for testing moving forward. This will be updated in the next health sector update. Original list of testing sites can also be found on previous Health Sector Communique dated: April 29th and posted on website

We remain committed to working together with all of you in keeping our nations protected, supported and embraced. While not possible physically, then with our spirit, as we do everything possible to combat COVID-19 and its impacts.

Be Well.

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