December 21st, 2020
NDP calls for federal plan to get vaccine to Indigenous communities
OTTAWA – Today, NDP Health Critic Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway) and NDP MP Niki Ashton (Churchill Keewatinook Aski), called on the federal government to develop an immediate plan in consultation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Public health experts have been clear that Indigenous communities are more vulnerable to COVID-19 and many are experiencing very high infection rates,” Davies said. “They must be a priority for the vaccine, yet we have heard nothing from the Trudeau government as to how they intend to get the vaccine to remote communities. As the Federal Government is directly responsible for Indigenous health, this is an urgent priority that must be immediately addressed.”
Ashton noted that while provincial governments are playing a key role, there is concern that Indigenous communities will lose out as they are not included in the discussions around the vaccine roll-out. Given the logistical complexities regarding the transportation and the storage of the Pfizer vaccine, many remote and rural communities are concerned that it won’t reach those who need it the most.
“We need to ensure it’s not a patchwork approach to delivering the vaccine to Indigenous communities,” Ashton said. “There are outbreaks in every region of the country, all under federal jurisdiction, and we need a coordinated plan now. First Nations and Métis leaders are clear: the vaccine must be there for the people who need it, but they are hearing nothing from the federal government. They must be full partners in developing a plan and there is no time to waste.”
Davies and Ashton urged the relevant Federal Ministers to consult and collaborate immediately with Indigenous leaders and Indigenous health agencies to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine to vulnerable communities as a top federal priority.