COVID-19 – Economic Support Update

“Second Wave” Funding for Indigenous Communities

On May 29, 2020, Prime Minister Trudeau announced an additional $650 million of funding to support Indigenous communities’ response to COVID-19. This brings the total federal investment for Indigenous communities for pandemic-related needs to $1.3 billion. Indigenous Services Canada Minister Marc Miller has stated that this new funding will help communities prepare for a “second wave” of COVID-19, that experts suggest may appear by next fall.

The breakdown of the additional $650 million is as follows:

  • $285 million for health care response
    • This includes an increased number of nurses on the front lines, additional personal protective equipment, and setting up isolation centres by building temporary structures or retrofitting existing buildings
    • In cases of outbreaks, this funding can be drawn on to provide surge capacity and additional support for community-based services

  • $270 million for the On-Reserve Income Assistance Program
    • $139 million will be used to address the increased demand on the program and provide direct support for individual and families that are struggling to meet their essential living expenses as a result of COVID-19
    • $131 million will go towards increasing the base funding for the program
  • $95.8 million for women’s shelters
    • $44.8 million over five years to build ten new shelters on-reserve plus an additional two new shelters in the territories
    • $40.8 million to support the operation of the new shelters for the first five years
    • $10.2 million a year in ongoing funding to support the new shelters

AIAI will provide updates as more information becomes available.

Delay in Senior’s COVID-19 Aid Payment

On June 5, 2020, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the one-time payment of up to $500 for seniors to support additional costs associated with COVID-19 won’t be delivered until the week of July 6.

Under this one-time payment program, those who qualify for the Old Age Security benefit are eligible for a tax-free payment of $300, while those who receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement will get an additional $200, for a total of $500. There are 2.2 million seniors expecting to receive the full $500 payment. The total federal spending for these payments amounts to $2.5 billion.

Interest Relief through the First Nations Finance Authority On June 2, 2020, Carolyn Bennet, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, announced that First Nations with existing loans under the First Nations Finance Authority (FNFA) will receive $17.1 million in interest payment relief. This measure was put in place in response to lowered revenues of First Nations due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. It should also be noted that investment in the FNFA serves to stabilize the First Nations Fiscal Management Act regime, considered a part of Canada’s broader municipalization agenda.