Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller responds to a question during a news conference in Ottawa, Wednesday Jan. 20, 2021. Miller says Ottawa is working with the provinces to prioritize vaccinating Indigenous people against COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller responds to a question during a news conference in Ottawa, Wednesday Jan. 20, 2021. Miller says Ottawa is working with the provinces to prioritize vaccinating Indigenous people against COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Ottawa advocating to prioritize vaccines for Indigenous people: Miller

Miller said he’s been concerned that Ottawa is not able to vaccinate First Nations people living off-reserve

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says the federal government is working with the provinces to prioritize vaccinating Indigenous people against COVID-19, including those who live in urban centres and other places where the provinces provide health services.

“This is a particularly acute issue and challenge when we’re talking about the deployment of the vaccine,” Miller told a news conference Wednesday in Ottawa.

Miller said he has been concerned that Ottawa is not able to vaccinate First Nations people living off-reserve, as well as Métis and Inuit outside federal jurisdiction. He said the federal government is doing “quiet work” with the provinces to prioritize these groups.

“We need participation of the provinces to ensure that needles get into the arms of people that are the most vulnerable,” he said.

“The role of the federal government, in my mind, is to offer our assets, offer our co-operation our resources, our logistical capacities.”

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout prioritize people who live and work in long-term care homes, people over the age of 80, front-line health workers, and adults in Indigenous communities where an outbreak can be particularly harmful and hard to manage.

Dr. Tom Wong, chief medical officer of public health at Indigenous Services Canada, said the department is now working with Indigenous partners and provinces and territories to specifically prioritize elders for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, and other groups.

“We are working with partners, including urban partners, urban Indigenous partners, local health departments, provinces and territories to really emphasize, and advocate for the inclusion in the rollout early on vaccines for underserved First Nations, Métis and Inuit,” he said.

“We’re very glad that in some jurisdictions, they are already making plans in the coming days and weeks to actually specifically support First Nations, Métis and Inuit in those downtown, inner-city, hard-to-reach areas to actually offer the vaccine.”

In a news release Wednesday, Indigenous Services Canada said there have been 89 COVID-19 cases, including 15 deaths, in nine long-term care homes on reserves located in Manitoba, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.

The number of COVID-19 active cases in First Nations communities reached an all-time high this week with 5,571 reported cases as of Tuesday.

The department said COVID-19 vaccine rollouts have already started in 169 Indigenous communities in all provinces and territories except Nova Scotia and P.E.I.

———

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press

CoronavirusIndigenousvaccines

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

HIGHLAND sECONDARY scHOOL comox
COVID-19 exposure at sixth Comox Valley school in past eight days

Island Health has posted an exposure alert at a sixth Comox Valley… Continue reading

Artist Sandra Meigs will be the next speaker in NIC’s online 2021 Artist Talk series, appearing virtually on Friday, March 5 at 1 pm. For the full schedule and link to attend the Artist Talk Online Series, visit https://nicart.tickit.ca/. (Photo: The Glass Ticker (2017) — 15’ X 9’ X 5’, wood, enamel, lights, aluminum, glass, automata. Photo by Toni Hafkenscheid.)
Celebrated artist and mentor joins North Island College Artist Talk series

North Island College’s virtual 2021 Artist Talk series welcomes Sandra Meigs, past… Continue reading

The Coast Range makes a spectacular backdrop for orca heading towards Discovery Passage of Campbell River Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Frank Neil
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

Dasher is back home with mom Christine Girvin thanks to some help from BC Ferries staff. Photo supplied
The cat came back, with help from Comox ferry staff

After Dasher made a dash, ferry staff found her and got her home safe

A rendering of the Denman Green plans for the Kirk Road site. Image, DHA/Ronan Design
Denman Green finds new site for housing

Facing COVID delays, the project reached expiration date on initial site

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Photo: Lt. Sandy Pridmore, MARS Darlene Banerd, MARS, Warren Warttig and Captain Rob Stevens show the new automatic external defibrillator (AED) that will be located at the MARS facilities located at 1331 William Beach Road, Black Creek. Photo supplied
Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society adds AED to Williams Beach Road location

Submitted Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS) has collaborated with the Comox Firefighters… Continue reading

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

Most Read