Covid-19 Daily News Digest – March 19, 2020
- Concrete details remain scarce. Finance minister Bill Morneau said they’re working on it. “We recognize that there will be – in cases like supporting Indigenous and northern communities – there will be details that we need to continue to work out,” he said at a press conference. Natalie Pepin, a small business owner, was supposed to be teaching a class in how to make moccasins. That isn’t happening any time soon. The small business owner had to cancel all her workshops: moccasins, beading, tanning, all of them.
- The emergency aid plan includes: $305 million for a new Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation communities.
- COVID-19 relief funds for Nunavut and Inuit will start flowing soon, says Dan Vandal. That money will flow out of Indigenous Services Canada, Vandal told Nunatsiaq News today. And because that spending will be “distinctions based,” Ottawa will consult Indigenous organizations, including Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, as well as northern governments, Vandal said. “I myself have personally spoken with leadership throughout the North since the beginning. The conversations are ongoing and we’re working closely with Inuit partners and the provinces and territories to make sure we can use this money effectively,” he said.
- How are First Nations artists coping with the cancellations of powwows, concerts, and other events amid nation-wide measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19? They’re bringing their art online. “What this time is showing us is now more than ever, we need to be there for each other,” said Wolastoqew musician Jeremy Dutcher, 2018 Polaris Prize winner.
- The province laid down strict new rules, including a ban on public gatherings of more than 50 people. Restaurants and bars must keep half of their seats empty or cap the number of customers to 50. “All [establishments] must be able to ensure social distance of one to two metres between customers,” according to the province. Grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations are exempt from that rule, “but must have processes to maintain a one-to-two-metre separation.” All gyms, casinos and bingo halls must close.
- Eskasoni First Nation has enacted emergency measures that closed all businesses deemed non-essential services in the Mi’kmaq community. Leroy Denny, Eskasoni chief, says they’re trying to protect the most vulnerable in the community. “We have people who have diabetes, who have cancer, who just came from surgeries and have weakened immune systems, so we’re urging our community members to stay home,” said Denny.
- Oochoo originally planned on having a huge celebration of life event for the man with all his friends, family, and fans, as he was a local underground music artist and rapper. Those plans have been halted for Oochoo, and many other families planning funerals, because of the state of emergency that has been declared by the province of Saskatchewan. Gatherings of over 50 people have been banned — so the celebration of life Oochoo planned will have to be cancelled or postponed. “Tensions are very high, and we understand that,” Oochoo said.
- Self-isolation and self-distancing are causing space issues at the Prince Albert YWCA, CEO Donna Brooks says. “Our Our House shelter has a capacity of 40, but that’s doubling up. So this will reduce that capacity right now, because we’re not going to double up,” she said. “Central Avenue, again for women, children, and youth, has a capacity of 60, but that’s also doubling up.” The federal government is doubling the Reaching Home program, which provides funding to communities to help them address their local needs. It’s also setting up an Indigenous Community Support Fund. “For anyone fleeing domestic or gender-based violence, we will boost funding for shelters that provide sanctuary, when self-isolating at home is simply not an option,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
- The upshot: for the next few months federal authorities will not bother you or your employer about taxes owing, it will forgive interest accumulating on student loans and will generally encourage you to get on with the difficult business of surviving the coming economic contraction. Where necessary, the government is making available cash to prevent the economy from seizing up.
- Those confined with an abuser in close quarters for long periods of time, such as the holidays, actually call into hotlines less, because they aren’t able to find a safe space to reach out from. Ray-Jones explained that in these situations, survivors often have no “out” when things are bad. “This limits the victim’s ability to seek help and resources safely.”
- To support national, provincial and regional efforts to contain and control the spread of COVID-19, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen Emergency Operations Centre is asking residents to avoid enclosed public spaces and large gatherings. Proper handwashing, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and staying home when you’re sick is the best protection. For the health and safety of residents and RDOS staff, we strongly recommend restricting your in-person interactions to essential services only. Please conduct your enquiry or business on the RDOS website.