Dear Minister Miller,
We are writing to you today to identify important issues in your recent announcement regarding funding for Indigenous populations living off-reserve and in urban centres during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As you know, your government has allocated $15 million towards urban and off-reserve Indigenous organizations and communities. While $15 million may seem like a large amount of money, we would like to remind you that over half of all indigenous people in Canada live in urban centres. Moreover, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam has cited that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples are at higher risk of negative health outcomes during COVID-19, due to Canada’s long-standing health inequalities. With the reality of Indigenous peoples often not having their basic human rights met, this gross lack of funding is frankly disingenuous.
We are also particularly concerned with the imposition of a funding deadline for urban and off-reserve Indigenous organizations that has already passed. In a time of crisis where organizations are working with limited resources, limiting funding opportunities for urban and off-reserve Indigenous organizations to a short window is a dangerous misstep that will only put lives at risk. It is with that in mind that we ask you to waive the deadline for urban and off-reserve Indigenous organizations like you have for on-reserve communities and organizations.
In this time of crisis, no one should be left behind.
MP Niki Ashton (Churchill--Keewatinook Aski)
MP Leah Gazan (Winnipeg Centre)