- The AFN Executive Committee, led by National Chief Perry Bellegarde and comprised of Regional Chiefs from across the country, passed a motion on March 23 declaring a State of Emergency respecting First Nations and the COVID-19 pandemic.
- AFN leadership calls on all governments to provide funding and support for First Nations based on needs, and to ensure First Nations leadership is involved in all governmental and intergovernmental discussions and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 21, 2020, the AFN Executive Committee held an emergency meeting to assess the situation of First Nations and to assess supports so far announced by federal, provincial and territorial governments regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal, provincial and territorial governments have taken some action to assist First Nations but these are not sufficient to meet needs. More action is needed immediately.
The AFN Executive Committee passed a motion on March 23 declaring a State of Emergency regarding First Nations and the COVID-19 pandemic. I am attaching the motion to this Bulletin. The motion calls for increased resources and support to First Nations – based on needs and equity – and states that funding to First Nations governments cannot be on a proposal basis. There also must be specific consideration for northern, remote and isolated communities. The motion states that First Nations leadership must “be fully and meaningfully involved at all decision-making tables in the development of all plans, legislation, policies, budget allocations and regulations regarding the COVID-19 pandemic federally and provincially.”
I will be writing to the Prime Minister and the Premiers to share this decision and to communicate First Nations concerns and expectations on what is needed to protect and serve First Nations citizens wherever they live. I will continue to share information with you as events unfold.
During this unprecedented public health crisis, we must work together to protect everyone. The AFN Executive Committee will continue to push for resources to ensure the protection, health and safety of First Nations to the greatest extent possible. I strongly urge all of you to follow the advice of medical experts. Please take all precautions to protect yourselves and your loved ones, and to lead by example in following the advice of public health experts.
My thoughts and prayers are with each and every First Nation citizen. The Assembly of First Nations is closely monitoring this situation and will continue to share information on how everyone can protect themselves, their families and communities.
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MOTION
SUBJECT : National State of Emergency
DATE: March 23, 2020
MOVED BY: Regional Chief Kevin Hart (MB)
SECOND BY: Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald (ON)
The Assembly of First Nations declares a national State of Emergency in respect to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Further, that the federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments must respect this State of Emergency;
Further, that the Assembly of First Nations supports those who have already declared States of Emergencies and travel bans into and out of their First Nations;
Further, that the funding allocated for medical, health, and the economic stimulus are not going to be enough. Canada must allocate more resources to support and meet First Nations’ needs, during this public health crisis;
Further, that funds will be distributed on a needs and equity basis and not on a formula nor a proposal submission basis and not on a reimbursement basis, unless First Nations have already spent other resources to prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Further, that specific consideration for all prevention and critical care be afforded to northern, remote, and isolated communities;
Further, that on reserve and off reserve members seek financial assistance in many times of need to their respective First Nation and financial provision must be made for those Nations that provide to their members who are not able to live on reserve;
Further, support all measures put forth by public health authorities to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the most vulnerable populations throughout the provinces and territories;
Further, that First Nations leadership be fully and meaningfully involved at the decision-making tables in the development of all plans, legislation, policies, budget allocations and regulations regarding the COVID-19 pandemic federally and provincially;
Further, that resources be made available for immediate mental health support and for those who suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
Lastly, the Government of Canada, Provincial and Territorial Governments must begin to track infections in First Nations so that we know the daily status of COVID-19 and its impact on our communities.