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New Funding for Indigenous People Living Off-Reserve; Testing to be Focus of First Minister’s Call

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced $75-million in new funding to support Indigenous people living off-reserve. In his daily briefing on Thursday, Trudeau said the money will help the 1-million Indigenous people living in cities and off-reserve, as well as the organizations that support them with transportation, educational, and mental health supports. The funding is in addition to $15-million announced in March for people living off-reserve as part of a larger $305-million Indigenous Community Support Fund.

The Prime Minister said testing is important to managing a potential second wave of COVID-19. Trudeau said how quickly they are contained or controlled comes with testing and contact tracing. The federal government has stepped in to help provinces and territories to increase capacity as a result.

“As we move forward into the summer and into the fall, we need to be able to act fast so we don’t have to go back into a mass lockdown,” said Trudeau.

The Prime Minister said he has another First Minister’s call Thursday evening with the country’s premiers, where testing will be a large part of the conversation.

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“We have already seen a ramping up of testing in Ontario and Quebec. But we know we need to do more testing. We will discuss precisely how we can scale up testing in places where it is necessary like Ontario and Quebec.”

Trudeau said they also need to be able to instantly respond to any flare-ups in other regions where the virus is virtually under control.

On Wednesday, the President of the Canadian Medical Association warned the country is not prepared for a potential second wave of COVID-19. Dr. Sandy Buchman testified at a Senate committee that the health care system, with its shortage of personal protective equipment and not enough testing, was “sick” before the pandemic and it has only gotten worse.

Buchman said we are gambling by re-opening with contact tracing and serological testing, which is the test for antibodies to determine how much of the population has had the virus. He believes we are far short of where that testing needs to be in order to make decisions about what to do next. Buchman said those measures are the only way to protect against a caseload spike, that in his opinion, is likely to follow as provinces and territories start re-opening.

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