As of May 4, 2020, there are 75 First Nations people who have contracted COVID-19. This represents an increase of 23% from last week and a 91% increase from the week before. These numbers indicate that spread amongst First Nations is increasing more rapidly than in the rest of Ontario, where the rate of increase is 20% from last week and 46% from the week prior.


Indigenous communities are considered a priority group in Ontario for COVID-19 testing. As a result, the testing rate among First Nations is increasing, and currently sits slightly above the testing rate in mainstream Ontario.

Although more people are being tested in First Nations, the rate of positive test results has not increased. First Nation positive result rates remain lower than the positive rates of mainstream Ontario.


As Ontario begins the its process of re-opening by lessening public health restrictions, First Nations must decide how they are going to respond. To assist in these decisions, Chiefs of Ontario (COO), in partnership with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), has developed modeling projections for First Nations to consider. The projections are estimates of COVID-19 spread and impact on First Nations if:

1) every person who contracted the virus were to pass it on to one other person
2) every person who contracted the virus were to spread it to two other people

In scenario 1, projections estimate that COVID-19 could result in 4,277 deaths amongst the First Nation population in Ontario. This nearly doubles in scenario 2, with projections estimating over 8,900 deaths.

Further details on these projections is contained in the attachment from Chiefs of Ontario called “OFN DATA PPT for OFN CHIEFS.”


Based on the modeling projections and current data secured, Chiefs of Ontario Health Sector is suggesting that the protective measures implemented by First Nations are working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their communities.

There is a recommendation for current community measures in place remain until spread decreases. Weekly First Nation data updates will be provided to leadership.


On May 7, 2020, Ontario released a framework for resuming elective surgeries in the province. The framework provides criteria that must be met before hospitals can resume scheduled surgeries. A summary of criteria includes having:

  • A stable number of COVID-19 cases;
  • A stable supply of personal protective equipment;
  • A stable supply of medications;
  • An adequate capacity of inpatient and intensive care unit beds;
  • An adequate capacity of health human resources; and
  • The availability of post-acute care outside the hospital that would be required to support patients after discharge.

The full framework for resuming elective surgeries is available here:


On May 6, 2020, Ontario announced an extension of its emergency order from May 12 to May 19. The state of emergency order mandates the closure of outdoor amenities including, parks and recreational areas, the closure of non-essential workplaces, public places, bars, and restaurants. It also restricts social gatherings to 5 people or less.

As of May 4, 2020, certain businesses that were ordered to close due to the pandemic have been allowed to open, if they are able to meet the public health and occupational health and safety requirements for COVID-19 (ie. social distancing requirements and sanitation requirements).

On Saturday, May 9, 2020, garden centres, safety supply stores, and hardware stores will be allowed to open and for customers allowed to enter if guidelines are met.

On Monday May 11, 2020, all retail stores with a street entrance will be allowed to open for curbside pick up.

Re-opening guidelines for businesses in 65 sectors in Ontario can be accessed here:

Ontario’s overarching framework for loosening public health restrictions and re-opening the province was announced on April 27, 2020. It sets overarching criteria, indicators, and principles to guide a gradual and phased re-opening of businesses and services within Ontario. The full re-opening framework can be accessed here:

Indigenous Services Offices (ISC) for Indian Status Cards are closed until further notice. Because of this, all service providers are being told to accept status cards that are expired or Temporary Confirmation of Registration Documents past the renewal date with a second piece of identification. This directive is effective for all services providers, including providers processing Non-Insured Health Benefit claims.

If you have trouble using an expired status card for Non-Insured Health Benefit services, report the issue to Chiefs of Ontario NIHB Navigator ( or

AIAI Health Policy Advisor ( or 519-282-5740) so the issue can be escalated.

On May 7, 2020, the Prime Minister of Canada announced federal support would be provided to the provinces and territories with an additional $4 billion flagged to support additional pay for frontline health care workers and other essential workers.

On May 6, 2020, Ontario launched a website dedicated to providing information on temporary pandemic pay regarding pay amounts, qualifications, and access. This website can be accessed here:

Ontario’s pandemic pay initiative was initially announced on April 25, 2020, with the Government of Ontario committing to providing additional temporary support for frontline workers fighting COVID-19 in the amount of an additional $4/hour. Ontario will also provide monthly lump sum payments of $250 for four months to eligible frontline workers who have worked over 100 hours each month.

Pandemic pay will be effective for 16 weeks, from April 24, 2020 until August 13, 2020, and is expected to support over 350,000 frontline workers in health and long-term care, social services, and corrections.


Data reports indicate that the province is now in the peak period of spread of COVID-19 with the amount of new cases reported daily dropping to about 350-450.

Reported cases are concentrated in long-term care homes, retirement homes, and other congregate living settings. There are currently 174 long-term care homes and 70 retirement homes in outbreak in the province. Residents of long-term care homes account for over 1,100 of the 1,500 deaths in Ontario. Five health care workers in Ontario have also died as a result of contracting COVID-19.

To monitor updated case number data in the province go to:

Public Health Unit Contact:

Telehealth Ontario: 1-866-797-0000

Mental Health Supports in Ontario:

Hope for Wellness: 1-855-242-3310 or

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 or

Online COVID-19 self-assessment tool:

Ontario COVID-19 website:

Canada COVID-19 website:

World Health Organization COVID-19 site:

Chiefs of Ontario COVID-19 webpage:

*The information contained within this memo is provided for your information and usage as appropriate. It is collected from various sources and does not necessarily reflect the concerns or positions of the AIAI First Nations.