December 23rd, 2020
Letter to the Prime Minister: The Feds must release a plan for vaccination for Indigenous Communities
COVID-19 won't take the holidays off, neither can the Feds
Dear Prime Minister,
It is with both extreme urgency and disappointment that we are writing to you today, following the inadequate plan your government has developed to ensure First Nations, Metis, and Inuit communities get access to the COVID-19 vaccine on a priority basis.
For weeks, First Nations, Inuit, and Metis communities across the country have been dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks. Indigenous leaders have been sounding the alarm over the lack of consultation regarding vaccine distribution. Instead of showing leadership, you downloaded the responsibility onto the provinces.
Federal responsibilities like the military and correctional facilities will receive the vaccine through federal distribution channels but when it comes to your most important relationship, you’re leaving it to the provinces. When you consider provincial leaders like Premier Pallister are challenging the very idea that First Nations should be at the front of the line when it comes to vaccination despite clear vulnerabilities due to decades of government failures, this plan is a disaster waiting to happen. Not only is this an abrogation of jurisdictional responsibilities, but it’s also a failure of leadership.
The fact that the 14 vaccination sites your government is planning don’t include a single First Nation or Indigenous community reflects the way your government has consistently ignored these communities in its planning. This is no surprise; your government didn’t even include the Minister of Indigenous Services as a permanent member of the COVID-19 Committee.
We understand the Pfizer vaccine creates some challenges, but there are possible solutions for getting this vaccine to Indigenous communities. And now that the Moderna vaccine has been approved, we are calling on you to immediately release and implement your distribution plan for rural and Indigenous communities. We cannot wait any longer.
The reality is, COVID-19 isn’t taking time off for the holidays, and neither can your government. We are demanding your government roll out an immediate plan in consultation with Indigenous communities to make the vaccine accessible to them as soon as possible. Lives are on the line.
Jagmeet Singh, MP (Burnaby South)
Leader of New Democratic Party of Canada
Niki Ashton, MP (Churchill--Keewatinook Aski)
Don Davies, MP (Vancouver Kingsway)
NDP Health Critic