More funding needed to address inequalities harming COVID-19 response: AFN

Assembly of First Nations

OTTAWA — The Assembly of First Nations regional chief in Alberta says First Nations’ capacities to respond to COVID-19’s second wave are dwindling because of health, social and economic inequities.

Speaking at the House of Commons Indigenous and northern affairs committee, Marlene Poitras says First Nations are facing chronic housing shortages, lack of access to drinkable water and poor access to health services.

Poitras says she was pleased to hear of additional federal funding announced on Friday, but more will be needed before this pandemic is over.

Ottawa committed to spending an additional $204 million targeted at child care, education and infrastructure to help Indigenous communities fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new money is on top of more than $2.2 billion the federal government has already allocated to help Indigenous and northern communities get through the health crisis.

Poitras says the unprecedented level of funding has shown that First Nations have not been a priority in the past, even though they have been living through chronic health and mental health and addiction epidemics for years.