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

Kerri and Kevin Black are highlighted for their volunteer work with the Carr's Landing Community and Recreation Association. (Contributed)
Lake Country couple’s passion to make a difference

Spotlight on Carr’s Landing Community and Recreation Association volunteers

Pink Shirt Day’s anti-bullying messaging on Feb. 24 should be understood every day of the year. (Contributed)
COLUMN: Millennial’s guide to online trolls, bullies

Messages of Pink Shirt Day should be front of mind all year long, especially online

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears shoes designed in her honour, as she views her image at the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on July 3, 2020. (Darryl Dyck - The Canadian Press)
Celebrating Vernon women in leadership this International Women’s Day

Pandemic highlights women excelling in critical response roles

Mya Kondor, owner and trainer of Canines and Co. in Kelowna. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
VIDEO: Kelowna dog school offers puppy socialization classes amid COVID-19

Canines and Co. has adapted to the pandemic to provide training essential to puppies’ development

Providing seniors with tablets in order to stay connected is just one of the services offered by the Lake Country Health Planning Society. (Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap Society photo)
Support helps Lake Country society reduce COVID impacts on mental health

District grants funding to Health Planning Society

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Chase RCMP held two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight in their detachment’s cells on Feb. 6. (File Photo)
Chase RCMP hold two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight

The two seperate incidents took place less than an hour apart.

Kamloops Fire Rescue battled a landfill fire which belched toxic smoke into the air on Feb. 27. (City of Kamloops Photo)
Fire at Kamloops landfill sends thick black smoke into the air

Firefighters made slow progress on the fire throughout the morning.

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Approximate location of the vehicle incident. (Google Maps)
Vehicle incident blocking Coquihalla traffic in both directions

Both directions of traffic stopped due to vehicle incident

(HelloKelowna - Twitter)
West Kelowna billboard bearing anti-vaccine messaging deemed misleading

Ad Standards investigated the billboard, noting a lack of evidence to support the messaging

Baldy Mountain Resort is temporarily closed following the death of a resort family member. Pictured above is a sunrise at the resort, Feb. 19, 2021. (Baldy Mountain Resort/Facebook)
Baldy Mountain ski hill closed following death of resort family member

Authorities currently investigating, resort set to reopen Sunday, Feb. 27

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Chase RCMP arrest intoxicated man running into highway traffic

The man was wanted on several warrents in Alberta; was held overnight but released

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Most Read