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Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Bulletin to Ontario First Nations

Updated: Apr 3, 2020


COVID-19 continues to rapidly evolve in Ontario. Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), along with Public Health Ontario and the Ministry of Health, is closely monitoring the outbreak, conducting surveillance and appropriate laboratory testing, and providing public health and infection control guidance.

COVID-19 First Nations Community Guide on Accessing Additional Supports and Ontario Request Form

This guide was sent on Friday March 20. We have updated the request form to be in a format that you can complete online. The process was outlined as follows:

  1. Review the COVID-19: First Nations Community Guide on Accessing Additional Supports

  2. Complete the Ontario Region Proposal Request Form with your requirements as you know them at this time and forecasted, if you can.

  3. Send the form to Emergency Management Ontario email inbox:

  4. Acknowledgement of your request will be sent back to you within 48 hours.

  5. Once the review committee has assessed the requests, you will receive an email confirming what has been approved. An email response will be required from the Chief, Executive Director or equivalent authorized official. This email must be copied to all members of your Council or your Board, and confirm acceptance of the following: a. the funding for the activities outlined in the approved request; and b. amendment to your Funding Agreement to include the COVID 19 funding, activities and any required reporting.

  6. Funding approvals will be actioned on receipt of the Confirmation of Acceptance email from the Chief, Executive Director or equivalent authorized official.

  7. Priority cheque runs will be processed daily to expedite the flow of funding.

Medical or Health Information For medical or health information, please contact your local health care provider or Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000. For medical emergencies, immediately call 911.

If you have any comments on the process, please contact the Emergency Management Ontario’s email inbox at

March 20, 2020 Chiefs Call – Q&A

The list of Q&As was distributed the afternoon of March 20, 2020. If you haven’t received them or have additional questions, please contact First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB), Ontario Region, at The calls with ON Chiefs will continue weekly (unless otherwise notified) on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 4pm Eastern Standard time/ 3pm Central time.

Accomodation for Expiring Status Cards

Individuals can continue to access benefits, even with an expired card. Benefits are based on an individual’s Registration Number regardless of the date of expiry. Expiry dates are a measure put in place to keep card photos current.

Medical service providers and pharmacies can confirm an individual’s eligibility for benefits by contacting Non-Insured Health Benefits General Inquiries at 1-800-640-0642.

COVID-19 Scams, Price Gouging and Misinformation

Communities are encouraged to stay on high alert for COVID-19 scams, price gouging efforts by third-party retailers and by online misinformation. Difficulties with supply chains and limited stock should not be addressed by resorting to inflated online offers. Communities should also be on high alert for counterfeit test kits and available treatments.

Should you have any questions, please contact FNIHB Ontario Region at

Reporting Requirements and Late or Delayed Community Reports

Effective immediately, ISC has removed all funding halts from current contribution agreements. In order to ensure a rapid transfer of funds, these conditions will remain in place for the foreseeable future. Reporting requirements will be communicated once the COVID-19 situation becomes clearer in the future months.

Available Helplines

If you are experiencing feelings of anxiety, are overwhelmed, or if you are in crisis and would like talk to someone, emotional support is available for all Indigenous People living in Canada.

Call the Hope for Wellness Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or chat online at:

Contact Crisis Services Canada anytime day or night at 1-833-456-4566 or text “Start” to 45645 between 4:00pm and midnight EST.

Kids Help Phone is also available at 1-800-668-6868 or text “connect” to 686868 to speak to a live counsellor.

If you need specific COVID-19 information, please visit

First Nations Health Managers Association CODI-19 Town Hall Information Session

Date/Time: March 25, 2020, from 1:00pm to 2:00pm EST First Nations Health Managers Association (FNHMA) has partnered with ISC to offer a live-stream Town Hall session regarding the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Tom Wong, Executive Director and Chief Medical Health Officer of Public Health, Indigenous Services Canada, and Valerie Gideon, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister of First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, Indigenous Services Canada, will provide information and answer any questions about the COVID-19 virus.

The live-stream event will be hosted on the Indigenous Health Today website ( Tune in to hear important information and have your questions answered.

REMINDER: Communities should include their Name and Organization / First Nation in the Fax Subject Line when requesting Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to ensure clarity during these busy times.

Non-Insured Health Benefits

It remains the priority of the Ontario Region Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) program to ensure service delivery to our clients and service providers to the best of our ability during this exceptional time. Please be assured that advance business continuity planning was undertaken to anticipate and plan for challenges that could result from COVID-19. This bulletin will serve as an operational update regarding the steps that have been taken to ensure continued service.

Where operationally possible, NIHB staff are working to deliver service from remote locations. Where required, some limited staff continue to access the workplace to assist with scanning of hard-copy documents and to assist remote workers with accessing material to continue their work functions.

Phone messaging on NIHB phone lines has been updated to provide clients and service providers with alternative options for contacting all three NIHB offices (Ottawa, Thunder Bay and Sioux Lookout).

Toll-free telephone lines continue to be answered. Functions surrounding the prior approval of non-insured health benefits and the payment of vendor invoices continue. Best attempts are being made to process requests in a timely manner, however we ask for and appreciate your patience should delays occur.

NIHB medical transportation Benefit Analysts are taking instruction from health-care professionals and clients to cancel or reschedule medical travel. NIHB is not restricting patient travel; we do recommend however that individuals consult their health-care professional or community health team if they have questions regarding whether they should or should not travel to medical appointments.

For more information, please call one of the FNIHB Ontario Region NIHB contacts:

Heather Larsen Senior Manager, Program Delivery Ontario Regional Office

Jeanet Pierce,

Manager, Sioux Lookout Zone

Shelley Hakala Supervisor, Thunder Bay Zone

Patricia Villeneuve

A/Manager, NIHB Operations Ontario Regional Office

Cynthia Lucier

Supervisor, Sioux Lookout

Ontario Region Client Information Line: 1-800-640-0642

Toll-Free Fax

Ottawa: 1-800-806-6662

Thunder Bay: 1-866-551-5650 Sioux Lookout: 1-807-7373879

Updates and Additional Information

Public Health Agency of Canada – 2019 novel coronavirus: Outbreak update:

PHAC – Risk-informed decision-making for mass gatherings during COVID-19 global outbreak:

Ministry of Health Ontario

World Health Organization – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak:

Indigenous Services Canada COVID-19 Updates available in several languages

Public Health Guidance for schools (K-12) and childcare programs

Previous information bulletins and additional information and resources for health staff can be found at

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