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NAN Memo- $650 Million in Further Support for Indigenous Communities

June 3, 2020

On May 29, 2020, the Government of Canada announced a $650 million three-pillar investment targeted to Indigenous communities and on-reserve individuals. Full details on the rollout of this funding have not been announced and we are providing this update as preliminary information only.  As we have further information including what funding will be going directly to communities to support COVID-19 efforts, we will update the leadership and our partners accordingly.


On March 18, 2020, the federal government announced two specific funds to support Indigenous communities across Canada. The $305 million Community Support Fund, and a separate $15 million investment to go towards organizations that support urban and off-reserve Indigenous individuals. The $15 million was proposal based and closed to applications in mid-April. On May 21, 2020, the government announced $75 million in new funding for Indigenous organizations providing services to Indigenous peoples in urban centres and off-reserve.

The latest $650 million investment commitment consists of:

  • $285.1 million to support the ongoing public health response to COVID-19 in Indigenous communities. The investment will fund community-led responses to the pandemic and provide targeted increases in primary health care resources for First Nation communities. In case of outbreaks, this funding can be drawn upon to provide surge capacity and additional support for community-based services in First Nation, Inuit, and Métis communities.

  • $270 million to supplement the On-Reserve Income Assistance Program to address increased demand on the program, which will help individuals and families meet their essential living expenses. It will also help hire additional staff to better serve First Nation communities and connect individuals to other government programs.

  • $44.8 million over five years to build 12 new shelters, which will help protect and support Indigenous women and girls experiencing and fleeing violence. This funding will help build 10 shelters in First Nation communities on-reserve across the country, and two in the territories, to support Indigenous women and children. The government will also provide $40.8 million to support operational costs for these new shelters over the first five years, and $10.2 million annually ongoing.

  • Also announced was $1 million a year ongoing, starting this year, to support engagement with Métis leaders and service providers on shelter provision and community-led violence prevention projects for Métis women, girls, and LGBTQ and two-spirit people.

Key Points

  • Funding for additional health care resources in First Nations communities will support:

  • Increasing the number of health care providers to provide surge capacity.

  • Delivering up to 160 temporary assessment, screening, and isolation units, which includes retooling of existing facilities, ready-to-move trailers, and mobile structures.

  • Medical supplies and equipment in health care facilities.

  • First Nations administer the On-Reserve Income Assistance Program. Program staff members play an important role in helping individuals with other needs, including providing referrals to mental health and addictions counselling, and helping families find and apply for appropriate government benefits, such as Employment Insurance, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and the Canada Child Benefit.

  • 10 new shelters in First Nation communities on-reserve will be funded through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Shelter Enhancement Program, and two new shelters in the territories will be funded through the National Housing Co-Investment Fund. Both programs will offer forgivable loans for up to 100 per cent of the total eligible capital costs of construction.

  • The process to access the funding for the shelters will be through an Expression of Interest. First Nations on-reserve across the country and Indigenous governments and/or organizations in the territories will be eligible to submit proposals.

  • As of March 2020, the Family Violence Prevention Program provides operational funding for a network of 46 shelters for women and children living on reserve and in Yukon that provides places of refuge and services for women and children fleeing violence. The additional investments will bring the number of program-funded shelters to 58.

Eligibility & How to Apply

These programs are targeted to First Nation communities and members living on-reserve.

Information on how to access funding for increased public health capacity is expected to be available through ISC regional offices.

Information on how to apply for On-Reserve Income Assistance is available here. Note: there is no specified deadline, but the application process depends on location.  

NAN will work with the Minister’s office to obtain more details on how this funding will be released. We will provide this information to our communities as it becomes available.

Download Memo

Visit Nishnawbe Aski Nations COVID-19 site

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